[extropy-chat] When did intelligence first emerge in the universe?

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Fri Jun 23 01:21:42 UTC 2006

On 6/22/06, George Dvorsky <george at betterhumans.com> wrote:

> "Where is everybody?"

The short answer probably is "in front of our faces".

I've dealt with this question previously in several forums including the ExI
list years ago.  I haven't read the chapter in the SIN where "We are the
first" is discussed but I'm reasonably certain Ray's assumptions are faulty
(I doubt he read the Matrioshka Brain papers completely and neither he nor
Amara Angelica actively participated in the ExI list discussions).

There is abundant evidence if you take an unbiased look at the astromical
data that the universe is not "pre-development" or "post-development" but is
instead in the "mid-development" stage. As a simple example from a recent
astronomical report -- what explains the "radio bright" but "visible dark"
galaxies?  Or what explains all of the "dark energy" or missing "dark
matter"?  I point some of these and others in my original Matrioshka Brain
paper.  As a prominent example the "exoplanet" count is now up to about 170
now -- but there is *zero* evidence that they are classical "planets"
(instead of say Jupiter Brains).

You cannot grasp this problem by thinking about it as a human with a typical
human "reproduction" mindset.  Human reproduction (and/or colonization)
involves a significant loss of information resources when a copy is produced
or one colonizes a distant location.  We accept that because we haven't had
the means to engineer the reproduction (copying) system from scratch.  Shift
intead to a cellular (duplication) reproduction mindset where you split all
of the resources on a relatively equal basis.  For JBrains and MBrains you
have, relatively speaking, instanteous copying of huge amounts of
information (entire human populations worth) in very short periods of time
*if* you have very close proximity between the original and the copy.  You
cannot copy even a femto-subset amount of that information across
interstellar distances.  So colonization involves information loss costs
that we cannot even imagine now.  Probes are a relatively useless investment
because it is extremely difficult to get back information of any value from
a colony.  The only colonization and/or copying that occurs that makes sense
(to me) takes place during close proximity near-stellar collisions (KT-II
copying) and/or galactic collisions (KT-III copying).  You *can* do MBrain
duplication between a developed and non-developed solar systems at
sub-parsec distances without it costing excessive amounts of energy or
matter or sacrificing too much information).  So the spread rate isn't
limited by c or 0.1c as many colonization scenarios postulate but is instead
limited by the frequency of high complexity information substrate
encountering extremely low complexity information substrate.  Such
encounters are very infrequent except in dense stellar environments such as
globular clusters.  If MBrains migrate to outer galactic environments as I
have postulated and Milan and I touch upon in the recent New Astronomy paper
(this is based on Minsky's observation to Dyson regarding thermodynamic
efficiency at the first Byurakan CETI conference in 1971) then the frequency
of stellar close encounters is even lower than it is for emerging
pre-singularity civilizations in locations similar to those our solar system
is currently in.

You can't look at the Fermi Paradox and get sensible answers from where we
are now with implicit human assumptions.  You have to assume full nanotech
and singularity development at the limits imposed by a solar system (i.e.
MBrains).  Then it starts to make some sense.


Side note: I spent a significant fraction of 1998-2000 reading almost all of
the existing SETI literature (including F.P. discussions) and converting it
into a hypertext database.  I also saw one of Lineweaver's early
presentations on his research and cite his work as pointing out how the SETI
community collectively isn't thinking about the problem properly.  There are
probably less than 200 people alive familiar with a reasonable subset of
that literature and only a dozen or so who have been given access to the
database.  If you are asking the question in a blog simply trying to get
people to think about it that is fine -- but *unless* you want to educate
them with a large body of knowledge I very much doubt you will generate
useful insights from the process.
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