Re: Hyper Drive

From: Charles D Hixson (
Date: Fri Jan 20 2006 - 14:55:56 MST

On Thursday 19 January 2006 04:30 pm, Randall Randall wrote:
> On Jan 19, 2006, at 10:29 AM, Dani Eder wrote:
> > One of the possible resolutions to the paradox is that
> > civilizations always self-destruct when they reach a certain
> > level of technology. There are many other hypotheses
> > to resolve the Fermi Paradox, but that one is not good for
> > our future.
> Isn't the simplest explanation just that some step or steps
> in the development of life or intelligence are extremely
> unlikely? That temporarily solves the problem, which exists
> even for very sublight civilizations, and is potentially
> verifiable in the lab, later.
> --
> Randall Randall <>
> "It's alright, it's alright, 'cause the system never fails;
> The good guys are in power, and the bad guys are in jail."

It would need to be unlikely indeed. Several other lines of thought are "more
promising". E.g., the prevalence of small asteroids, etc., might be high
enough that there is a strong upper limit on speed regardless of the engine
that you're using. So far it's looking like the rule of thumb "The smaller,
the more common" is holding true far below the level at which it was
perviously thought to cease. (I.e., originally it was believed that brown
dwarfs were impossible, because matter just didn't clump into clumps that it's looking like they may be much more common than red dwarfs.
And there's no clear reason why this trend should stop at any particular
point, as it seems to be driven by turbulence.)

Then there's the argument of transcendence: nobody's willing to get that far
away from their phone line. We already observe this, where tourists aren't
very willing to go to places where McDonalds hasn't already implanted a
"resturant". And it seems quite likely that things will only get more
extreme. (Consider the frequency of couch potatoes.)

Still, a speed limit would help explain the absence of robots. More likely,
there's the what's to gain? argument to explain the absence of robots. If
nobody's willing to go, then why bother to send more than a photographer (if
that). And photographers might well choose to be inconspicuous, so as not to
disrupt the scenery that they were shooting.

Do you really think that mining over interstellar distances would be even
plausibly profitable? Slavery? Why bother intruding, when you can get all
the benefits more cheaply by running simulations?

I'm not sure that the Fermi Paradox needs to be answered, because there are so
many potential reasons, and plausibly different races would encounter
different reasons. The question really might be "Why would we expect to
encounter anyone? What could they possibly get out of it?" A faster space
drive doesn't help answer that question. People are adapted to live in a
particular environment, and other natural planets are quite unlikely to
provide that environment. So lebenraum isn't a plausible answer. (Though
see "MacroLife" by George Zebrowski.)

Personally, I see technologically advanced races as expanding to occupy (in
artificial structures) a few nearby solar systems at most before going in for
virtualization. They ones that are more aggressive are quite likely to run
into a Matrioska Brain that will handle them in some way, so that they aren't
aggressive anymore. They might live through it, but I don't know if that's
the way to bet. I don't really see something like the Escaton as being
plausible, but it does make a great story for singularity level
civilizations. (However I find Accelerando much more plausible...and much
more likely, even if it is quite optimistic.)

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