[ExI] The Universe is big - really, really BIG.

Stuart LaForge avant at sollegro.com
Wed Jul 12 06:22:09 UTC 2023

Quoting BillK via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>:

> On Wed, 12 Jul 2023 at 02:48, Adam A. Ford <tech101 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Anders Sandberg and Stuart Armstrong wrote a paper 'Eternity in 6  
>> hrs' - tldr build a dyson swarm from the matter of a few large  
>> asteroids and use it to thrust heaps of VN probes towards every  
>> solar system/energy source within reach - and that reach is far.   
>> We don't know how much dust there is btw galaxies, and galaxy  
>> clusters atm, so hard to model success rate.  Assume lots of  
>> redundant probes.  
>> http://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/intergalactic-spreading.pdf

Von Neumann probes are only really only useful for a postbiological  
species. Until we are able to reliably upload, we would be seeding the  
galaxy with unaligned AI, potentially causing problems for us if we  
ever master shields and cryptobiosis or cryogenic suspension and need  
planets of our own to colonize. If AI causes us to go extinct, then  
the probes wouldn't be spreading our civilization but theirs.

>> "A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and  
>> move toward higher levels." - Albert Einstein,  May 1946)
>> _______________________________________________
> I seem to remember some discussion here on that paper some years ago.
> The idea that an advanced civ could send probes to every planet in the
> galaxy within a comparatively short timescale does seem to be quite
> reasonable.

Advanced civilizations could if they wanted to but are unlikely to  
want to until they have reached machine phase or have somehow managed  
to successfully align AI.

> As there are no signs of probes or advanced civs, the conclusion drawn
> was that either there may only be one civ per galaxy (i.e. advanced
> civs are very rare). And we are the one for this galaxy.

We could be the first spacefaring civilization in the galaxy, VN  
probes might be unpopular among spacefaring civilizations, or the  
probes of other civilizations might already be here.

There is an interesting phenomena experienced sporadically amongst  
radio operators where they will receive the echo of their own  
transmissions several seconds after they send it. It is is called long  
delayed echoes (LDE), and it has been experienced since radios were  
first invented in the early 20th century. Although there are over a  
dozen theories, so far nobody has been able to pin down a cause for  
these long delayed signal returns or even be able to predictably  
reproduce them. In order to qualify as an LDR, a signal has to echo  
back more than 2.7 seconds after it is transmitted, which would  
suggest a reflective echo from something outside of the moon's orbit.  
The longest delay ever reported was 40 seconds.


Something to keep in mind that most of these LDEs are not reported by  
Houston Control, radar arrays, or radio telescopes, but instead from  
amateurs using hobby grade equipment in the 100 W to 20 KW power  
range. So how are they getting reflections back from the moon or  
farther without something amplifying their signal?

> Or there is some fundamental reason that makes all advanced civs
> decide not to spam the galaxy with probes or replicators.
> Not necessarily self-destruction, as retreating to live within virtual
> reality is also possible, among other reasons.

Standard probes are more likely than replicators for reasons that I  
discussed above. Civilizations probably universally see the creation  
of unaligned AI von Neumann replicators as a bad idea.

> The Fermi Paradox remains unsolved.

Give it time. Humanity has only sampled a 100-year light cone of an  
enormous universe that is at least 13.8 billion years old. There is so  
much tantalizing stuff going on lately on so many fronts, we might be  
close to some answers to the Great Silence.

Stuart LaForge

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