[extropy-chat] What if Dyson spheres are obsolete? (was the Drake Equation)

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Thu Oct 26 10:34:48 UTC 2006

On 10/26/06, The Avantguardian <avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com> wrote:

> One of the "possibilities" that I think you guys seem to be missing is
> that it may turn out that harnessing dark/vacuum/zero-point energy may
> actually be easier than building a Dyson sphere.

I very much doubt it.  At least while I'm on watch, I try to keep a "no
magic physics" zone in effect.  And other than when we let Anders get
carried away from time to time its also a "no magic engineering" zone.
*When* you show me that it exists *and* there is a way to tap it *and* you
get a significant number of other physicists and engineers to agree with you
-- you can bring it to the table.  Until then it belongs in the nice but no
cigar idea pail with Star Trek transporters and Star Gate SG-1 worm holes

Robert, I don't understand your comment about Lineweaver and earth lagging
> behind "70% of solar systems". What is the rationale of that?

Lineweaver and his graduate students over the last several years have
published a set of papers which argue that of the "Earth's" in our galaxy (
i.e. those solar systems which should have Earth like conditions allowing
for a similar evolution of life) that 70% of them are *older* than ours is
(implying that their civilizations stand a significant chance of being much
further along than ours is).  Since many of those older civilizations may be
up to several billion years older than ours they would long ago have gone
past any Singularity transition from pre-KT-I to full or somewhat post KT-II

Of course this make the Fermi Paradox much worse until you realize that
there is no point to transitioning from a classical KT-II to a classical
KT-III level.  If you want to evolve along the intelligence vector you have
to bring the galaxy's matter and energy into the smallest volume you can
manage (before gravity crunches it and makes harvesting any information a
wee bit difficult).  If you want to evolve along the long term survival
vector you migrate out of the galaxy entirely into intergalactic space.  Or
you can play around in your MBrain virtual universe and bud off mini-MBrains
when close encounters with uncolonized star systems (every few million
years?) allow for cheap duplication of ones collective mindset [2].

The big bang, if it actually happened and relativity is true, would be the
> only time that was the same time for everybody (fair start scenario).

Yes, but the evolutionary vectors are *very* much different and *very* much
determined by the role of the dice.  The element mix of our solar system
(which plays a key role in how bacteria and subsequent life evolves) was
strongly influenced by one or several nearby supernovas shortly before the
formation of our solar nebula (something like 5-6 billion years ago).  "Rare
Earth" goes into a lot of the conditions that had to be "just right" to get
us here -- but "Probability One" offsets most of those with the argument
that if *we* are here then others should be as well.  The current exoplanet
trends seem to be providing a lot of evidence that there are lots of planets
and that some solar systems are "strange" but not that systems like our own
are highly improbable.

With respect to Eugen's comments on converting this system to a Dyson Shell
and subsequently a MBrain there are lots of paths.  The first table in the
paper I did for OSETI III  [3] gives you some idea of the various
possibilities.  Within this solar system I believe that sometime in the
2030-2040 time frame relatively robust nanotech will enable the disassembly
of the asteroid belt and our sun (from an external perspective) will start
going dark.  Whether we continue the process by going after the outer
planets or the inner planets (or both) after that opens up a can-o-worms
political discussion.  One thing is for sure -- advanced civilizations, if
they haven't predicted our development properly (i.e. we got "lucky"),
*will* start to notice us at that point.  Whether they will care gets back
to the "we don't talk to nematodes, nor do we talk to invertebrates"
conversation.  Of course, unless they are sitting in the Oort cloud or
closer there will not be much they can do to influence things [4].


1. A post-KT-II civilization would be one which is utilizing manufactured
fusion reactors and H/He lifted out of its original sun (or harvested from
interstellar gas clouds) to achieve greater than natural star power output
energy scales.  Such a civilization could build a externally powered MBrain
which has somewhat greater thought capacity than "traditional" internally
powered MBrains.
2. It is worth noting from an astronomical perspective that some think that
"Blue straggler" stars are the result of stellar collisions.  These are
relatively rare which gives an indication of how infrequently star systems
might pass close enough to allow a KT-II superintelligence replication
party.  It isn't that one *can't* replicate across light years of distance
-- its just that the energy and matter costs of doing so are relatively high
if you want to take a significant fraction of ones collective knowledge and
history along with you.
4. If you play with the numbers from the Exponential Self-Disassembly and
Disassembly with 10E26 W columns of the table it becomes fairly obvious that
disassembly of everything but the four gas giants can be accomplished in a
matter of months.
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