[ExI] Meat v. Machine

Darren Greer darren.greer3 at gmail.com
Wed Dec 29 18:31:03 UTC 2010

>Which is why we cannot compute the probability for the emergence
of life as long as we don't have access to causally unentangled
data points<

Of course that makes sense. And of course we can't know. But whenever I
truly think about or hear being listed potential outcomes in
singularity-type discussions, like cosmic engineering and interstellar
travel and immortality and other large-scale events that would make any
sapient being sit up and take notice that something really seems to be
happening in that section of the galaxy, I start to consider John's first
possibility. In the broad strokes. Why isn't there some evidence elsewhere
-- Von Neumann probes, as Avante said, or radio signals? If a singularity is
inevitable, and even if it isn't and just desirable for some
technologically-inclined species, shouldn't such goings on be apparent to us
if it has happened elsewhere? Especially if it has happened frequently?

I mentioned Robert Charles Wilson's novel Spin the other day in a post. Have
you read that? In it, Von Neumann machines sent out from advancing
civilizations all over the universe have "teamed up" and formed a vast cloud
AI that then begin to interfere in the affairs of their makers. In Isamov's
Foundation Trilogy and Herbert's Dune, human beings are the progentitors of
cosmic engineering and the first technologically-proficient species to
emerge in the universe. What I was saying, I guess, as ridiculous as the
last sounds, it seems more probable than the first to me. Because the only
evidence we have seems to support that. Or at least supports that there
seems to be no evidence of a large-scale singularity and superior
machine-based civilization elsewhere that is suddenly messing around in the
universe dramatically enough for others to notice. A third possibility is
that other civilzations are advancing at roughly the same rate as we are,
and are on the verge of their own explosions into the universe around them
but still struggling with biological imperatives and resultant limitations.
A fourth is that even very advanced civilizations are limited by vast
distances and lack of resources so that they barely make a dent in the
universe around them, no matter how smart or powerfully they can engineer

There may be a million other possibilities, none of which I am smart enough
to come up with. Carl Sagan came up with a number of reasons in Contact why
there could be advanced species capable of revealing itself to us via its
technology but chose not to, but everyone of them was based on human ethical

Surely we'd be able to recognize the technology of a post-singularity
civilization before we'd recognize their ethical motivations?

I'm pretty new at this, and just trying to understand. So I may be covering
very old ground here, but this thought has been troubling me for many years.
Since I was a kid in fact.


*"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard everyone would do it. The
'hard' is what makes it great."*
*--A League of Their Own
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