Re: Fermi's paradox and observer selection effects?

From: Richard Loosemore (
Date: Wed Jan 11 2006 - 07:53:34 MST

I have to say that I completely agree with your reasoning here.

Richard Loosemore.

Olie L wrote:
> (Responding to Psy Kosh <> 's observations re
> replicators and Fermi paradox, below)
> This seems like a perfectly reasonable application of the same meta-idea
> as the Anthropic principle:
> Intelligence is most likely to evolve independently, looking for other
> existing intelligences, only where there has not been some pre-existing
> "consuming" intelligence.
> Please, consider for a second, whether it matches your view of
> Friendlyness, to consume the resources available for future
> intelligences (and the ecosystems that cultivate them), before they have
> an opportunity to utilise them?
> It seems to me that stunting the development of future intelligences
> through resource depletion is just as inconsiderate as stunting the
> development of concurrent intelligences.
> ...
> Now, is it just me, or does this seem to be another example of how
> consumptive* attitudes towards resources - that they are there to be
> used at the first available opportunity - have a strong tendency to
> cause selfish behaviours?
> All that dead rock out there /can/ be seen as a resource available for
> exploitation. But it can also be viewed as having value in itself.
> There is wisdom in being prudent - doing the most with limited
> resources, rather than immediately reaching for more.
> I'm not saying that using more resources is necessarily a bad thing, but
> using more resources where fewer resources would suffice _is_ Waste.
> Christian Zielinski <> posted the following
> the other day:
> "With growing technology the energy consumption of such a civilisation
> should grow too.
> Let's assume it for the sake as a linear relation"
> I don’t see that technology need have a linear relationship with energy
> consumption. Quite the contrary – I think that most technology revolves
> around reducing the resources needed to achieve outcomes. A bigger
> engineering project isn’t an advancement of technology; it’s just more
> of that one tech. A mound of 1000 blocks uses no more tech than a mound
> of 100 blocks. However, a tower of 100 blocks fitted together in a
> structurally sound manner /is/ an instantiation of greater technology.
> A taller structure using more bricks isn’t technology – using glue is.
> If it is possible to perform computations with negligible energy
> consumption, as reversible computing suggests, that would imply that
> there would be no need for an advanced civilisation to increase its
> energy consumption.
> So, why would an advanced intelligence “spam the galaxy with replicators
> or themselves or something?” Why would we spam other peoples’ inboxes?
> To quote Calvin:
> “Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists
> elsewhere in the
> universe is that none of it has tried to contact us”
> -- Olie
> * I went to a dictionary to check that this was a "real" word. Turns
> out the nearest dictionary available, published in 1962, didn't have any
> other meaning for consumption except "sickness".
>> From: Psy Kosh <>
>> Reply-To:
>> To:
>> Subject: Fermi's paradox and observer selection effects?
>> Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2006 03:04:20 -0500
>> Just a wee bit of wild speculation I had:
>> Let's consider universes in which some other intelligent species
>> developed slightly before us, sent out Non Newman replicators or
>> somesuch.
>> Well, if they had, then we'd expect to see such probes and perhaps
>> them all over... But wait, if they were, especially via the Von Newman
>> spamming of the galaxy, including our own personal favorite planet,
>> where would we evolve?
>> ie, I'm going to suggest the possibility that once at least one
>> species has spammed the galaxy with replicators or themselves or
>> something, then it'd be much less likely that human (or human like)
>> life could then develop, since the resources of the world would
>> already be in the process of being munched on by the replicators and
>> or the members of the species themselves. Any galaxy already taken
>> over would have less places and/or opportunity for something
>> "essentially like us" (leave it to you do decide what the proper
>> reference class is here) to develop.
>> So we may then be able to validly say that we have no right to be
>> supprised at the lack of signs of such, since the lack of such may be
>> a near prequesite for us existing.
>> Of course, we'd also expect as a prior "number of galaxies in all
>> possible universes with something showing up sufficiently before
>> humans to 'take over' before we show up" > "number of galaxies in
>> which we're among the first, sufficiently early at least that
>> nothing's 'taken over' yet."
>> So the exact relation of p(humans developing | someone else took over
>> first) * p(someone else took first) vs p(humans developing | noone
>> took over first) * p(no one took over first) is the question. My claim
>> is that the second conditional is significantly larger than the first,
>> and my wild eyed speculation is that the ratio is sufficiently large
>> compared to the ratio of the first prior to the second that we
>> shouldn't actually be supprised at, well, at the Fermi "paradox"
>> Or is this all just complete nonsense? :)
>> Psy-Kosh

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