[ExI] Drake Equation Musings

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Wed May 18 00:41:31 UTC 2016

On Tue, May 17, 2016 at 10:09 AM,  Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> wrote:


> If intelligence often turns into black boxes, then p is small. But note
> that you need many orders of magnitude to weaken the update a lot: since
> x can be arbitrarily large, even if you think black box civilizations
> are super-likely the lack of observed civilizations in the vicinity
> should move your views about the possible upper range of densities a
> fair bit. Arguing p=0 is a very radical knowledge claim, and equivalent
> to positing the most audacious law of sociology ever (true for every
> individual, society and species!)

We have intelligence and physics interacting here.  I suspect that
there is a universal characteristic of intelligence, that is of you
are smart enough to impact the look of the universe, then you have the
desire to be smarter.  One of the ways to get smarter is to think
faster.  If this is the case, then we run into the physics limits,
which I suspect keeps the aliens home just due to the insane expansion
of space you get with moderate (million to one) speedup.

> [ Some of you will by now wonder why I do not say we should expect an
> uncertainty of p running over loads of orders of magnitude, like the
> life probability does in our paper. The reason is that there is a
> curious asymmetry between reasons intelligent life may not emerge and
> reasons intelligent life may be quiet. The first group is largely
> conjunctive: "intelligence will happen if X and Y and Z and W and...
> happens" - if one of the conditions in the chain is missing, there is no
> intelligence. Explanations for silence have the form "X or Y or Z or W
> or ...". If one of them is wrong, nothing happens to the outcome. But
> their probabilities need to sum to nearly exactly 1, and if one of them
> actually has less probability than needed then the entire explanation
> breaks. ]

If Aliens do stay home, confined to their system rather than their
planet, what might we be able to see?



One of the things that are hard to understand is the lack of IR from
all the intercepted light from that star.  But as Tabetha put it, they
may be directionally radiating heat away from our line of sight.
Anyone looking into the James Web telescope would not see IR.

The long term, 100 year, dimming is also also consistent with aliens.
One of the things mentioned in the talk is a new mission to stare at a
million stars for this kind of dimming.

I would modify the title of her talk to be "the most mysterious star
in the universe so far."


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