[extropy-chat] The Drake Equation and Spatial Proximity.

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Wed Oct 25 13:57:35 UTC 2006

On 10/24/06, John K Clark <jonkc at att.net> wrote:
> Even in the extremely unlikely event that ET can't produce speeds faster
> than we can with our rockets, in less than 100 million years ET could
> send von Neumann style reproductive probes to every star in the Galaxy.
> Remember the universe is 13.7 billion years old. A blind man in a dead
> drunk
> on a cloudy day could observe that event, but we don't see a hint of it.

First, until all of the dark matter and/or dark energy is explained I
question the assertion "we don't see a hint of it".  The best you can assert
is that "what we see isn't what an anthropocentric perspective would lead
one to expect to see"-- e.g. stellar colonization.  Say for example that it
is possible to imprint or transfer ATCs onto dark matter/energy -- then they
*aren't going to waste their time colonizing stars -- they are going to
dedicate their resources to evolving into/onto a better substrate.

The thing which *always* gets left out of the colonization perspective is
the lack of bandwidth and communications between the stars.

1. If you colonize you can only take a very, very, very small fraction of
your knowledge with you.  Sure the Library of Congress looks huge to us now
but it isn't even a speck of dust to an ATC.  It would be like the Pilgrims
having to leave behind cloth making, crop growing, weapons manufacture,
cooking, etc. knowledge bases on their voyage of colonization.  They would
get to America and they would be lucky if they could still walk and talk.

2. Yes you could colonize, and yes you could communicate across those
distances, but the information content of the communication is effectively
so low that it would be difficult to justify the mass or energy it would
require.  Given how long the communication takes and how limited its
information content would be (relative to what is available on either end)
what good is it?  It would be like a cave man sending us instructions on how
to make a spear point.  We can figure out how to make a spear point
ourselves in a day or two.  If the singularity transition takes only 10-50
years everything beyond that distance in light-years is "beyond knowing".
By the time you "know" them they would be completely different.  You can
only know what they *used* to be.  Interstellar communication consists
entirely of historical docudramas.


1. I don't know how to create a good metaphor losing 20 or 30 orders of
magnitude of ones knowledge base -- the U.S. population *still* depended
upon Europe for many years for a vast set of resources -- but that knowledge
set was transferred in dozens or thousands of humans -- not 10^25.
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