[ExI] Eternity in six hours: intergalactic spreading of intelligent life and sharpening the Fermi paradox

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Fri Sep 13 11:35:08 UTC 2013

On Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 05:06:09PM -0600, Kelly Anderson wrote:
> On Tue, Sep 10, 2013 at 3:06 AM, Tomaz Kristan <protokol2020 at gmail.com>wrote:
> > The Rare Earth is the only sane explanation for our apparent solitude.
> >
> I don't know if this is a supportable assertion. It is certainly a top

You've got that exactly backwards. The only conservative
explanation to 'where's everybody?' is that we're the first
ones on the block. We're in nobody's smart light cone.
Arguments from probability do not apply for self-measurements 
of any kind (including Simulation Argument),
so but for the first three coefficients of Drake's equation
which can be derived from observation, the other parameters
are currently unknown. We *might* get a second data point
for the fourth parameters just from finding causally independant
source of life in this stellar system, but chances for that
are not very good.

Why this is so hard to grasp I don't know.

> contender in explanations, but the only "sane" one... not by a long shot.
> Space is REALLY big. It seems hard to see intelligence from REALLY far off.

No, it would be quite easy to see. Except, observation window before
subexpansive observer and expansive observer for relativistic expansion
is so short probability is nil. Everywhere the wave passes subexpansive
observers are extinguished, or have no chance to develop. Applying
anthropic principle, above means what we're seeing is exactly what
we should be seeing for expansive (all the other ones are undetectable)
relativistic (all expansive observers will become relativistic)

Why this is so hard to grasp I don't know.

> I mean how close would you have to be to be able to detect our intelligence.

We're undetectable, because we're not expansive. If we don't become
expansive we'll become extinct rather soon. Nonexpansive cultures not
just invisible, they're also doomed.

Why this is so hard to grasp I don't know.
> Seriously, let's turn this around. Within how many light years could an
> intelligent race detect our intelligence? How would they do it? Would

Don't flatter yourself. We're not intelligent, because we're not a
space-faring culture. Pioneers are only as intelligent as much as
it's useful to map the resource base upon arrival, before starting
to feed and self-replicate.

> someone outside that light cone just assume there was no intelligence in

Nothing is observable outside of its light cone, by definition.
This is why you don't see the "smart" (they really aren't anymore,
but long time ago and long space away, they used to be) expansive 
guys coming, until they go right through your front door with a 

Remember why Vergeltungswaffe was so spooky? You didn't hear them
coming, them being supersonic. Relativistic craft is the same
way, only you don't *see* them coming until they're almost here.

> our direction? Is it not similarly likely that we would miss intelligence
> out there for the same reasons?

No. Because you can see the stars, and in fact because you're at all
around to read this message. That's the best evidence that Fermi's
apparent paradoxon wasn't.

Why this is so hard to grasp I don't know.
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