[ExI] Where are they? was Re: 2^57885161-1

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Tue Feb 19 15:55:53 UTC 2013

On 19/02/2013 15:04, spike wrote:
> I am toying with the possibility that intelligence does self-limit, 
> for reasons we don't yet understand. If we have 100 billion people, 
> would we eventually decide that's enough? Is there any reason to think 
> we would be better off with fewer, smarter brains than just in 
> creating more and more like the current ones?

Suppose the Meaning of Life is maximizing pleasure. Then you should make 
as much pleasure-experiencing stuff as possible, and turn the universe 
into a pleasure maximizing system. Conversely, if the Meaning of Life is 
thinking truly deep and vast thoughts. Then you should colonize a few 
superclusters and move them together, converting it all into long-term 
computronium. If it is reciting all 9 billion names of God you just 
build the right supercomputer and turn off your civilization when it is 

These are just random possible Meaning of Lifes. It might be that there 
is none, or that different species (or individuals!) have different 
ones. But advanced civilizations will - if MoLs can be figured out - 
have figured them out, and knowing them they will act to achieve them 
very powerfully. So if the reason for the Fermi paradox is related to 
this, the silence in the sky actually gives us a hint what the Meaning 
of Life is.

> In any case I have as a background on my computer one of NASA's deep 
> space images

It is a magnificient picture.

I should be preparing tonights talk rather than emailing, but thanks 
Spike for setting me back on track - my talk *is* about the Fermi 
Question, and your picture is the third slide.The first is Copernicus - 
happy 450th birthday! I then show a picture of a Sagittarius starfield, 
where I talk about the vast size of the galaxy. Then I use the deep 
field picture - every dot is now more than was in the previous 
starfield! And in that picture, every single star has the potential to 
have a planet. A planet that could develop life, intelligence and 
technology. And if they did, they did it many billion years ago, since 
by now nearly all the stars in that picture have burned out and been 
replaced by new ones.

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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