Re: Kardeshev is pre-Spike thinking

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Mon Jun 05 2000 - 09:35:09 MDT

Damien Broderick responded to Jeff Davis:
>I do have a hunch that even more advanced science isn't going to show us
>that the Earth is actually a gigantic tetrahedron. Will it teach us rules
>of game theory and economics that *altogether* escape the strictures known
>to us? Maybe, in which case you're probably right. But if so, the
>post-Spike ET cultures are likely to be beyond our cognitive event horizon,
>aren't they? So even if they're *there*, you can't get there from here -
>*except* via a Spike of your own... Does this disable the Great Filter
>model? Dunno. Over to Robin... :)

Anders Sandberg writes:
>Unless the third law of thermodynamics is a kind of
>phlogiston theory believed in by primitive civilisations, even the
>post-spike entities will do stuff to entropy. And this is likely to be
>noticeable, assuming they do big entropy-modifying things.
>(Which hinges on the assumption that they would do that, which might
>of course be a culturally influenced assumption we make since we
>currently live in a "more is better" culture. The environmentally
>conscious posthumans of Egan's _Diaspora_ might have a different

They conclusion that much more advanced creatures would be visible
to us is based on the idea that
A) they would be subject to physical resource constraints that we
perceive (e.g., visible mass and entropy), and that
B) their preferences would be such as to make such constraints
frequently binding.

It seems that people trained primarily in the physical sciences
appreciate how strong the arguments are for the first of these
conditions, but do not appreciate that the social sciences offer
similarly strong arguments for the second condition.

One the one hand you could imagine that advanced creatures will
find sources of mass and negentropy that are so bountiful as to
make such creatures completely uninterested in making use of
the mass and negentropy we see in the universe. Possible in
theory, but not very likely, it seems to people with
physical science expertize.

On the other hand you could imagine that advanced creatures would
have preferences so different from those of the Earth creatures
we know that they would just have no interest in using the resources
we see in the universe, even though such resources would be of
great use to creatures who had preferences like us. To someone
with expertize in social science and evolution, this also does
not seem very likely.

Now I know that many people with physical science expertize are
of the opinion that there is no such thing as social science
expertize. But such people are just wrong.

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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