[ExI] SETI for Post Singularity Civ

avant at sollegro.com avant at sollegro.com
Fri Jan 23 19:19:54 UTC 2015

On Fri, January 23, 2015 2:20 am, John Clark wrote:

> And we can also infer how much power all the stars in our Galaxy are
> pumping out, and we can observe that by far most of that power is in the
> form of low entropy visible light, ultraviolet, and X rays. If ET was
> getting work out of the stars (such as in Dyson Spheres) it would have to
>  convert the low entropy electromagnetic wave to high entropy ones such
> as infrared and radio waves, but that's not what we see.

What if ET *does* convert 1% of the low entropy light into IR and RF
because that is all it needs? There is a crap load of high entropy light
in the galaxy. Take a look:


How do you know that some of the low frequency EM in that picture wasn't
once high frequency EM that had useful work extracted from it already?
Because there is still high frequency light out there? That's the same
logic as saying there are no organisms on earth that burn oil because
earth still has lots of oil left.

> ET may or may not want to make copies of himself but we were talking
> about thermodynamic efficiency and the cost of building a Von Neumann
> probe would be trivial for an advanced civilization. It would be like one
> of us purchasing a candy bar. The cost of launching such a probe to the
> nearest star at 25,000 miles an hour, something we can do today, would
> cost even less.

It's not the cost of a VN probe, it is the risk and externalities
involved. Perhaps VN probes are illegal in ET society because dysoning all
the stars in the galaxy would cause the vacuum to decay to a lower energy
state, changing the fine structure constant and rendering computation
impossible. Or maybe it just likes the aesthetics of stars.

> If somebody did that just once then in just 50 million
> years, a tiny fraction of the life of the universe, the Galaxy would look
> vastly different from what it looks like today  and ET could harvest
> astronomical (and I mean that word literally) amounts of energy. Your
> explanation of why we don't see that engineered Galaxy is that out of the
> billions of individuals in millions of civilizations no one, absolutely no
> one, bothered to buy that candy bar.

Biological warfare is cheap too but that doesn't mean any rational person
would engage in it lightly. Not even the Jihadis so far.

> Be honest now, does this excuse put forward to explain away the lack of
> large scale engineering really strike you as credible? If you knew for a
> fact that ET existed but had never seen the night sky is this really what
>  you would predict the sky would look like?  I don't see an elephant in
> my living room so I can reasonably conclude there is not an elephant in my
>  living room. Sometimes a absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

If you read my original post, as an exercise, I assumed a lack of
megaengineering. Yet you keep forcing the issue without a shred of
evidence as if you had some divine revelation that all post-singularity
evolutionary trajectories will strongly converge on dyson-tech and VN
probes as some kind of "perfect fitness solution".

To summarize your argument:

Intelligent Life -> Singularity -> Dyson sphere -> Von Neumann probes -> 5
Myrs -> No visible stars

Stars are visible therefore there is no intelligent life.

Do you not see how each step in the process is subject to a whole bunch of
variables that can throw a monkey wrench into tour tidy progression of
events? Don't you see how your argument suffers from a flaw similar to
that of the "unexpected hanging"?

> The amount of energy you could get out of rotating black holes would be
> trivial compared with the energy of the stars, especially the big bright
> stars, and you're the one who said ET would be worrying about
> thermodynamic efficiency, and yet it's letting all that energy radiate
> into infinite space.

Thermodynamic efficiency is defined as the ratio of Work Output / Energy
Input. The laws of thermodynamics ensure that it is always less than or
equal to unity. How does letting the denominator grow without bound,
increase that ratio?

> If ET has found a way to get work out of dark energy then it knows of
> some fundamental laws of physics that we do not, that is always a
> possibility but conjuring up new laws of physics to explain why things
> look as they do should be the last resort not the first; and in this case
> there is a explanation that needs no new physics that can explain why the
> night sky looks uninhabited very nicely, namely that it IS uninhabited
> because we are the first, after all somebody had to be.

But, John, by your argument we *can't* be the first. Not until we spam Von
Neumann probes to tile the galaxy with Dyson spheres. Until we do, we
don't qualify as intelligent. ;-)

Stuart LaForge

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