[ExI] Why Alien Life Would be our Doom - The Great Filter

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Sat Feb 10 03:40:25 UTC 2018

On Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 9:01 PM, Samantha Atkins <sjatkins at mac.com> wrote:

>> On Feb 4, 2018, at 8:09 PM, Adrian Tymes <atymes at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Except there's another couple interpretations:
>> * We are indeed the first, however mathematically likely if you make
>> certain assumptions that are not necessarily warranted.  (They kind of
>> alluded to this in the "filter is behind us" bit, but this is not
>> quite that scenario.)
> I find that by far the least likely.

I agree, except

> The universe is so vast.  Hundreds of billions of planets in this galaxy alone.

We don't really know how hard it is for life to emerge and get to the
technological stage.

> I do however think that it is very unusual for an evolved technological species to survive and thrive across the its period of accelerating technologies.  I think the challenge of transcending evolved psychology and species limitations, much less letting go of being intellectual kind of the hill produces such turmoil that it rips many species apart.

The filter says nothing about what happens to such hypothetical
species except the ones in our light cone (if any) don't impress
themselves in an obvious way on what we observe.

It could be there are many surviving species, but the process of
change they all undergo to survive don't lead them to make an obvious
visible splash.  The outlines of such changes were discussed in the
early days of this very list.  Charles Stross gathered up most of them
and stirred them into Accelerando.

>> * The filter ahead of us has stopped others but it won't stop us.
>> With literally no data, any filter could be supposed - including one
>> which we are the first to cross.  It's kind of Pascal's Wager.
> I think the challenges we obviously face now and in the next few decades are a good enough Great Filter.

It might be worth thinking about ways to step sideways out of the
universe we inhabit.  That's one alternative that would account for
the silence and not imply extinction.


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