[extropy-chat] The Drake Equation and Spatial Proximity.

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Thu Oct 26 10:40:51 UTC 2006

On Wed, Oct 25, 2006 at 08:29:27PM -0400, Robert Bradbury wrote:

>    Because the cost is low.  They would not be here if they were not

Forking off clones is always a costly and risky business. Yet you
will notice everybody is doing it. Why? The costs of the alternative
is nonexistance, long-term.

>    preprogrammed to spread.  Their lack of  exo-awareness specifies that
>    they cannot spread in a way which dictates probability of survival.

I don't understand what this means.

>    You can easily colonize the marginal niches -- show me a path to
>    colonize the niches which will dominate! [1]

Originally, we were talking about why the universe looks sterile.
I've made a number of arguments about how even comparatively primitive
systems would nucleate a wave of expansion which would very visibly
transform the universe in its wake. Anything which can spread over
interstellar distances and cause stars to gray out due to circumstellar
photoplankton is reasonably dominant, at least from an astronomer's
point of view. Because we can see the starry night sky, we know we're
>    Yes.  But it is sooner or later (whether it be in this galaxy or in
>    others as one might attempt to colonize -- one is going to have to
>    face up to the fact that there *are* other ("alien") footprints in
>    Hollywood Boulevard.) [2].

I would be very happy to see them. But, so far, we seem to become the
only advanced culture in the whole visible universe (meaning, we're
in nobody's advanced light cone). Anthropic principle applied to
expansion waves says this is not a coincidence. The only wave we
can observe is the one we ourselves will start (or pioneers
meeting other pioneers).
>      If you have time, and there's stuff growing (fusion metabolism) in
>      Oort and Kuiper contamination will happen spontaneously, even if
>      you don't have the genome for a plasma thruster.
>    I am not sure that I understand this inference.  If important you
>    should elaborate.

Stellar systems don't have sharp boundaries, and there are occasional
pretty close flybys. Assuming several sustainable strain of machinery which fuses
nonmetals from ice for metabolism there will be spontaneous infection even if you don't
have propulsion in the genome. However, any fusion reactor venting backwards
is a really really good rocket, and time is of no essence to systems
which thrive in deep space.
>    No, at each step of the way, "colonizers" will assess the "state of
>    the universe" to determine whether the investment justifies the
>    benefit.  This is the *key* factor which has not been brought into

If you have colonizers which work that way, they will be completely 
left behind by colonizers which are much simply structured, being
growth oriented. And these colonizers would be evolutionary optimized
even further, with each generation.

>    SETI, colonization, exploration & growth discussions (at least that I
>    am aware of) before now.
>    *WHY* Grow????  We understand reproduction, we have condoms, we have
>    birth control pills, we understand enough about human
>    self-satisfaction feedback loops that we can say, "We choose not to
>    'grow' -- We choose to better ourselves!"  You *have* to justify

You haven't happened to noticed that the birth rate about humans
who subscribe to above memeset is way below replacement? And that
there are subpopulations which have a really high birth rate?

Isn't it richly ironic that those godless Darwinists breed themselves
out of existence, whereas folks who believe the wife should be barefoot
in the kitchen, when she's not busy giving birth to kids, which in turn
let themselves get knocked up as teenagers?

>    growth across light year distances (and the delays it would impose
>    upon the computronium) vs. growth across solar system distances (light

Adjacent cells in an organism communicate just fine, whether this is a
Armillaria ostoyae covering some 8 km^2, or a daphnia.

>    year delays vs. light minute delays).

Here is a leaf of grass. Why should a leaf of grass need to communicate
to a leaf of grass 100 miles from here, or with a leaf of grass in
Australia? If it does in order to thrive, you can well assume it's
a goner, soon.
>    Of course.  Unless a superior force says "All your matter (and energy)
>    are belong to us.  Ha Ha Ha..." [3]

Do you see any evidence that all visible space is anything but a sterile
>    You seem to be assuming a send everything everywhere with a colonize
>    everything worth colonizing perspective.  I would argue that you do

I personally think it's a reasonably dumb idea. Unfortunately, darwinian system
collectively think otherwise, so we don't have much to say in that matter.

>    not have enough matter or energy to do this.  You have to select your
>    targets -- and if they are not there when you arrive its an "opps"

Critters are making mistakes and dying all the time. Some of them don't,
and that's enough. 

>    situation.  I am willing to entertain this approach but I would want
>    to see the numbers ( i.e. you have to argue that you can blanket
>    planetary or asterioid size areas within the surface area of a
>    galaxy).  I am maintaining that if you miss you miss.  You have to
>    know *in advance* with *high probability* that what you want to reach
>    will be there when you arrive.  Otherwise you are shooting bullets

Local star movements are highly predictable with Newtonian mechanics
alone. Navigation is dead easy, even bacteria can do it.

>    into the sky -- don't you have something better to do with them?

Those who're not into heavy panspermia never figure on the really long
run. They might be there, but you will never run into their kind.
Instead, you would have to elbow more expansive species out of the way,
>    This assumes you have now way of predicting better outcomes or *know*
>    that there is a better way to predict outcomes.  I would argue that we

Smart critters have a much better chance than random, but they're
still gambling. There is no perfect knowledge in an imperfect universe.
In fact, in co-evolution most of the fitness function is the others,
which almost completely wrecks predictability, and makes a stochastic
approach be the best. People know that too, you should talk to military
strategists about predictability.

>    are long past that point.  Would you spend $200 billion on sending a
>    spacecraft someplace potentially "colonizable" or $2 billion on where
>    to send it to? [4]

I understand raising a kid today takes about a megabuck. That's about
the most expensive thing you can do in your life.
>    Agreed.  The question revolves around whether we are currently
>    oriented towards detecting such.  I would argue that we are not
>    (yet).  Though we appear to be getting closer.

You don't see such individual assemblies, but you see where such
dark entities encroach on luminous matter. You might miss a single
dark galaxy, but you can't miss a cluster of them. We typically
see things like http://www.pparc.ac.uk/Ps/aac/images/densitys.gif
which doesn't strike me as unnatural.
>      If they're infected, you can't miss it. Especially aggregated,
>      they'd
>      be visible across the entire visible universe.
>    This is the light-cone problem.  The aren't detectable if they are
>    spreading directly towards the outskirts of the galaxy or towards the

The expansion is always a sphere, and yes, you don't see them coming
precisely because they've started a relativistic expansion very soon
after they hatched (became observable). And you don't see them coming 
because in passing through they make emergence of observers impossible/
extinguish presentient observers. That's the anthropic principle
thing: you can't observe very well if you're dead (never been born).

>    nearest GC unless we happen to be in their path.  This is similar to
>    the GRB problem -- you can detect an "impossible" amount of energy if
>    it happens to be focused in your direction.  If it isn't focused that
>    way you may be lucky to notice it.

Have you noticed that all bacteria colonies are circular, the center
being the point of inoculation? In 3d medium, they're perfect little
>      If the stuff has grown legs, you're an animal at sea.
>    I'm not sure I understand this.  You seem to be still presuming (a)
>    spherical growth patterns and (b) that random distributed growth has

Absolutely, you're always moving away from high density to low
density. The highest density is always at the nucleation point.
This might be slightly distorted due to local density variations
of the medium and random asymmetries, but is averaged out on the 
long run into a pretty perfect sphere.

>    value vs. directed growth ( i.e. colonize the galaxy vs. go to where
>    your history, skills, experience, etc. will be most useful.) [5]

The pioneers are almost certainly not sentient. They're just extreme
specialists, begotten by some ancient culture somewhere.

>    Robert
>    1. Colonization of niches which will dominate requires a high degree
>    of precognisance, which in turn requires a high degree of simulation

No, darwinian optimization is enough. If you try many things, some of
them will result into something with a high payoff.

>    capability.  [We will for a moment ignore the fact that you are
>    erasing all of those unsuccessful future thoughts...]  If you
>    colonize, at least if you are somewhat above being brain dead, *or*

All organisms colonize. All organisms have offspring. The one which don't
don't make even a trace in the fossil record. The history is full of
silent have-beens, who would or could not. 

>    roughly about our at our current state of evolution, you would do so
>    hoping for a reasonable chance of success.

Radiation goes in all directions, both up and down. If you have a
genome for a fusion reactor, you don't need to understand physics, no
more than people need to know all the intricacies of biochemical

>    2. I state this on the basis of Lineweaver's assertions ~70% of solar
>    systems are ahead of us.  We are playing catchup.  I will freely

Where's the evidence? 

>    modify the position based on evidence in opposition.
>    3. You will not understand this unless you are aware of the "Are your
>    base are belong to us." history.

I'm reasonably hip with the Net trivia, thanks.

>    4. Numbers are entirely arbitrary -- we can refine the discussion by
>    providing more accurate estimates.
>    5. You *know* everything which is the 'at current state' within the
>    galaxy (within your light perception).  What you don't know is what
>    the future will be.  You have to position yourself into the future
>    with respect to probability of survival, greatest contribution,
>    etc.  It is *no* longer about *your* survival, or your children's

You're pretty alone in this world to think this. Say, do you have

>    survival.  You can choose this but you have to ask "What is the
>    probability that this will be really important in the long run?"  If
>    you select the past -- my survival, or my children's survival, or my
>    societies survival, you may be selecting that which is either (a)
>    doomed to extinction; or (b) not the "best" path.  Or you could,
>    instead, opt for the non-predictable future -- one which is not based

The details of the future are always nonpredictable. Co-evolution
will make this so, in case it isn't this yet.

>    upon "make more copies of me and my offspring" but is instead based
>    upon very far upstream efforts at value manipulation.  I suspect the
>    non-simulated futures fail in signifcant numbers compared to the
>    simulated futures.

It is much too expensive to run simulations of anything. People build
houses to live in them.

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820            http://www.ativel.com
8B29F6BE: 099D 78BA 2FD3 B014 B08A  7779 75B0 2443 8B29 F6BE
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