*Bzzzt* Fermi Paradox (was Re: >H Re: transhuman-digest V1 #562)

From: Jeff Davis (jdavis@socketscience.com)
Date: Wed Jan 12 2000 - 12:20:15 MST

On Mon, 10 Jan 2000 18:21:15 -0500 (EST)

in response to Eliezer's

>*Bzzzt* Fermi Paradox.

Robert Bradbury <bradbury@genebee.msu.su> replied

>Robert Freitas <snip>argues that advanced "moral entities" would be highly
>and seek to maximize the possible information content in the universe.
>They would never "consume" or "destroy" anything that has some
>"minimum" information content.

This seems logical to me as well.

The idea of Von Neumann probes "colonizing" the galaxy per preprogrammed
plan, seemed, when I first encountered it, not only rude, but also not well
thought out. Any reasonable intelligence would foresee that such an act
would be viewed by those on the receiving end, as an "assault", and all but
certain to provoke a forceful "corrective" response. So, aside from
ethical concerns (not to mention discourtesy), simple self-preservation
would suggest a more circumspect approach: Von Neuman stealthy, or--if you
wanted to be bold--friendly exploratory probes, with perhaps the colonizing
program as an option. When one is uncertain as to who one will meet when
venturing out into unexplored territory, it is best to be both cautious and

An additional factor to be taken into consideration is the age of the
universe. The older the universe the more capable and community-minded the
"residents" are likely to be. In this setting, I see little opportunity
for misbehavior by late arrivals. But even in a brand-spanking-new
universe, the first civilization out of the starting blocks is unlikely to
know that they are the first, and therefore likely to exercise caution.
Whatever their "attitude", they will embark with a limited quantity of a
certain level of technology, and are unlikely to restock, or upgrade that
tech while in transit. Meanwhile, the stay-at-homes they are on their way
to visit will have some advantages: they will have time to "catch up"--the
transit time--if in fact they are lagging behind vis a vis tech, they will
be on their home turf, and they will have their entire resource base close
at hand. The drop-ins will, perhaps, have the element of surprise.

Finally, anyone embarking on interstellar exploration will no doubt have
benefit of such analysis long before they depart. Consequently, I would
expect a contact strategy based on an abundance of gifts, interesting
stories, and massage therapy.

In my own exploration of the "Are we alone in the universe?" question I
have awarded Best of Breed to Fritz Freiheit"s

The Possibilities of FTL: Or Fermi's Paradox Reconsidered

which can be found at:

I have not had the pleasure of reading Robert Freitas's "Xenology", but
would most certainly like to. Robert (Bradbury), is it available online?

                        Best, Jeff Davis

           "Everything's hard till you know how to do it."
                                        Ray Charles

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:02:14 MDT