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

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Thu Feb 21 18:01:33 UTC 2013

On Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 11:26 AM, Anders Sandberg wrote:
> My answer was based on an observation Drexler made in one of the agorics
> papers. Yes, replicators soon run out of unclaimed resources and compete.
> But competition can be done in a lot of different ways. Humans do not just
> compete by stealing stuff or killing each other. We compete by trading,
> creating institutions and by creating impressive non-rivalrous goods. The
> fact that it is news when somebody cheats in business is evidence that it is
> a relatively rare phenomenon: most business is totally win-win. In nature,
> we find symbiosis noteworthy: it is rare, most organisms just eat each
> other. Humans, thanks to our minds, are able to construct better ways of
> handling scarce resources. Sometimes these systems break down, but we also
> invent ways of handling breakdowns (and breakdowns of the breakdown
> handling, and so on). As we become more advanced we become better at
> coordinating what needs to be coordinated, and this produces a very
> cooperative system.
> To me, this suggests that when we meet an alien civilisation it might not be
> "nice" in any moral sense, but if it is a coordinated system we are likely
> to be able to game-theoretically interact in a fairly win-win way. In fact,
> meeting a space empire might be better than encountering the autarchic space
> nomads.
> There is another wrinkle. If civs are far from each other, when they meet
> they will be old: they will essentially have figured out what can be figured
> out about physics and technology. Hence they will be equally matched
> tech-wise, and if their domains are large, at the meeting point the amount
> of local resources belonging to civ A within a certain radius will be equal
> to the amount belonging to B. So they will be perfectly matched in a
> conflict, if it breaks out. Worse, if A penetrates into B's domain, it will
> now have a convex region surrounded by B stuff, so it will potentially be at
> a disadvantage. So it seems (there is a tree of assumptions here, of course)
> that there is a strong incentive to either ignore the other or trade with
> it.

I think that when we discuss possible contact with alien civs we make
the big mistake of thinking that we will be in a Star Trek type
environment where our civ is basically cowboys with spaceships. :)

Humanity won't be like that after we go through the Singularity.  It
is difficult for writers to write about posthumans as their thinking
and motivations won't be the same as us in our present condition.
That's why people have great difficulty in considering possible
posthuman civs. They *want* them to be cowboys with spaceships and
laser guns.

We find the Great Silence to be unbelievable because if we were given
lightspeed spaceships now, we would immediately set about polluting
the galaxy. The thought that posthuman level civs might think that is
a bad idea just cannot be allowed. Perhaps the Singularity is going to
be a bigger change than anticipated.  ;)


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