[ExI] fermi paradox again, was: addiction

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Mon Apr 6 09:16:42 UTC 2015

spike <spike66 at att.net> , 5/4/2015 7:29 PM:

​>>…Long ago psychologists established that if you inserted a stimulator in a lab animal's pleasure centers, (in fact the studies that established the existence of them), the animal would make a response to get the stimulation until it fell over …  BillW
>…Evolution has not had long enough to act on addiction, which is a maladaptive hijacking of a physiological system.-- Stathis Papaioannou
I haven’t looked at that list of possible explanations for the Fermi paradox to see if this is among them, but some massive nearly universal addiction could do it. 

I think it is on some lists. However, I don't buy it as an explanation. It is essentially the cultural convergence hypothesis. 

You need 100% addiction, not 95% (and in humans, most things that are addictive only for about 5%). If some individuals escape, they will be able to expand, breaking the paradox. There would also be selection for those immune to the addiction in this scenario. Essentially you need to posit that every civilization develops something super-addictive long before there is any chance of escape/expansion (there is a kind of time trade-off; today we need a fairly large chunk of human civilization to go somewhere else, but the size is declining: beyond a certain point even a handful of non-addicted individuals are enough to escape, so the addictiveness must *always* be higher than this limit). 

Imagine we discover a chemical which does that: creates that feeling for people in general, a real Love Potion Number 9.  It caused the addicted person to be still functional, not stoned as one on opium but definitely high.  Suppose it causes the addicted one to be kind, generous, good, charitable, optimistic, happy, that spectrum of euphoric emotions one feels when in love.  If such a thing is discovered, that could cause a society and even a technology-enabled species to lose interest in anything but having that potion.  Result: cosmic silence.

But some of us will want to help the aliens too! We will go there and give them an adapted version of the potion!

Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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