Re: the end of fermi's paradox?

From: Philip Goetz (
Date: Thu Jan 04 2007 - 16:24:50 MST

On 1/4/07, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <> wrote:
> Philip Goetz wrote:
> >
> > If you do the math, you may find that the payoff from harvesting a
> > sun's energy, is not high enough to justify the energy investment for
> > a space probe, due to the very high discounting rate. If it takes 20
> > years to harvest that sun, and your expected return has to equal 200%
> > per day after 20 years to make it worthwhile, you need a return of
> > 10E2200 times your original investment. A sun is simply not enough
> > energy to be worth going after.
> Until you've used up your current sun, which, if your discount rate is
> that high, you're going to do damned fast, quite possibly less than 200
> years. A solar system's resources are finite and at some point, it's
> going to make sense to throw out that one little probe - unless you're
> suggesting that their discount rate is high enough to provoke literal
> suicide because they'd rather think one last thought today.

Yes, I think that might be the case. I think we had this conversation
on SL4 half a year or so ago. I said, at that time, something to the
effect that perceiving the approaching end of your solar system would
itself increase your discount rate, only aggravating the problem.

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