[ExI] Fermi Paradox and Volvo star systems

Ben Zaiboc ben at zaiboc.net
Mon Mar 30 13:30:01 UTC 2020

Someone (Rafal or Stathis, I don't remember which) wrote:

"It would be a problem if uploads could just maximise positive 
reinforcement without going to any effort. It has even been postulated 
that this is an explanation of the Fermi paradox: once civilisations 
become advanced enough, they transfer their minds to a virtual Heaven, 
and stop being interested in exploring the universe"

That's an idea that crops up quite a bit, but to be honest, I don't 
fully buy it. Why would anyone with any sense at all deliberately put 
themselves in such a state, knowing that it could well doom them to 
extinction? Especially when it would be so easy to avoid. Being in a 
virtual paradise would not per se doom anyone to extinction, but losing 
interest in the wider universe easily could.

As I posted before, things like nearby supernovae are existential 
threats to biological beings, but they would be very dangerous to /any/ 
computing substrate. If I'd uploaded myself into some paradise, I'd be 
very wary of simply losing interest in the enormous and hostile outside 
world. That sounds like a recipe for suicide, to me.

At the very least, I'd want some automated systems capable of 
recognising and initiating a response to any threats like that. Maybe we 
shouldn't be looking for direct evidence of alien civilisations, but for 
their defence mechanisms. Even better than just defence mechanisms would 
be to create a nice safe, quiet neighbourhood in the first place. With 
added defences on top.

Maybe the hallmarks of advanced civilisations aren't Dyson Swarms and 
other mega-engineering projects, but failed supernovae, and nearby 
super-stable stars that would provide a steady supply of energy for very 
long periods of time, systems with little or no rubble in ever-changing 
orbits, that kind of thing. Maybe we should be looking for 'Volvo' star 
systems: Suspiciously quiet, safe and long-lived.

Aren't something like 60% of the stars in our galaxy nice, quiet, 
stable, long-lived red dwarfs? Maybe our alien neighbours have been in 
plain sight all along.

Ben Zaiboc

Ben Zaiboc

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