[extropy-chat] Runaway consumerism explains the Fermi Paradox.

Russell Wallace russell.wallace at gmail.com
Fri Jan 13 11:53:53 UTC 2006

I just had another thought about this.

It's been remarked how strange and wondrous it is that creatures evolved for
survival on the plains of Africa should be capable of discovering
relativity; and indeed our Stone Age brains have worked surprisingly well -
until now. Why should the late twentieth century have been the time the
system really started breaking down? One obvious answer is that the
evolution of lethal parasite memes only really kicks into gear when
information technology reaches a certain point.

Another possible answer is that the Great Filter might have a whole series
of mini-steps _after_ the evolution of intelligence. Perhaps most species
that evolve the ability to make tools don't happen to have the psychology to
reach the Bronze Age, most of those don't invent the printing press etc.

It's interesting to note that our own species may have lasted just long
enough to still have a chance - that is, the development of new technologies
such as life extension, nanotechnology, AI etc might still come in time.
Combine that with something like the Simulation Argument, and we would
expect that most intelligent _species_ don't get to the point of being
astronomically observable, but most _observers_ find themselves members of
species that _just barely_ make it.

(I'm not necessarily claiming this should be taken seriously - I'm not sure
anthropic arguments of this type have logical force (though they have made
one successful prediction that I know of) - just offering it for those who,
like me, find it amusing to dip into existential paranoia now and then :))

- Russell
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