Thursday, August 14, 2003

Singularity Sky: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal (Fermi's Paradox revisited)

Singularity Sky: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal:

"All good responses, though with one exception no-one was immodest enough to claim the paradox was solved. Remember, it's not MY paradox. It's been puzzled over by people far smarter than I..."

The catch of the Fermi Paradox though is that if even ONE civilization propagates across star systems, they quickly (within galactic time scales) cover the galaxy. So the sieve preventing that from happening has to be verytight.

That's what's interesting about the paradox. What could be THAT tight? Mats proposes a common solution to the paradox, but that solution implies a universal law -- all civilizations crash. Matt argues this by analogy to biological species, but I'm not sure the analogy holds. For that matter, why use a species as the analogy rather than a 'kingdom'?

We could easily become extinct, for example, but our 'memes' could propagate into abiologic entities.

James suggest exploring with robots. I suspect no biological entities actually every cross star systems -- that might be a hard barrier. But that leads into the post-singular category of answers to Fermi's paradox.

That's the tight sieve I prefer. Civilizations are never stable. They either crash and burn (Mats preference) or they go post-singular. When they are post-singular they aren't interested in exploration. It's not something post-singular entities ever do. I don't know why, I'm definitely pre-singular.

So, there might be a universal law, analogous to Godel's Theorem. 'Any nervous system complex enough to create a technologic civilization will consume itself'. Either it consumes itself by self-destruction (Mats assertion) or by becoming post-singular (an alternative). Stability does not occur. Either outcome, is incompatible with exploration -- the first for obvious reasons, the second because of something characteristic of post-singular entities. (So like any answer to a good paradox, this just shifts the question a bit ...)

Posted by: John Faughnan on August 14, 2003 01:50 PM "

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