[ExI] Fwd: [x-risk] Martin Rees and Huw Price on the Posthuman World

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Thu Sep 24 19:24:15 UTC 2015

On 2015-09-24 18:04, scerir wrote:
> "There may be billions of Earth-like planets in our galaxy alone, and 
> hundreds of billions of other galaxies, similarly rich with the kind 
> of environments we know to be favorable for our sort of life. Unless 
> we're a lot more special than at present we have any reason to think 
> -- it seems likely that other technological civilizations have reached 
> this point and perhaps had these kind of thoughts."
> ### According to Sharov and Gordon [1] life takes 10 billion years to 
> evolve to the level of complexity associated with humans. Then we may 
> be the first intelligent civilisation in our galaxy. And this could 
> be the reason why when we gaze into space, we do not yet see signs of 
> other intelligent species. Or are they wrong [2]? Any idea?

I certainly think they are wrong, and I have not met anybody in the SETI 
or astrobiology community that takes them seriously. Their approach to 
genome complexity is pretty much at variance with what evolutionary 
biologists talk about, and then extrapolating it linearly is the height 
of overconfidence. It is a bit like a certain somewhat eminent 
astronomer I recently encountered who based a big argument on genetic 
clocks always running at the same rate for all genes; he was surprised 
when a biologist told him they actually run at different speeds for 
fairly well understood reasons.

This is on the same level as estimating the age of the Earth from the 
saltiness of the oceans.

Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Oxford University

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