Re: "Web-mediated SETI": Robert Bradbury Replies

Robert J. Bradbury (
Tue, 2 Nov 1999 18:26:40 -0800 (PST)

On Tue, 2 Nov 1999, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:

> The only way the Prime Directive works is if you assume the first
> species to attain power imposed the Prime Directive by force on all
> other species.

Horse puckies. I'm surprised that you would make such a statement. Convergent conclusion (evolution) is an equally valid way to get to the prime directive. If the galaxy is rife with broadcasts (directed at emerging species) of "The History of Failed Contacts" then "rational" species would never attempt contact. (Or the might attempt one or two to confirm that the broadcasts are accurate).

You don't go out into the environment and see hyenas attempting to take down lions. Why? Because it simply doesn't work in the average case. If knowledge of the average case not working is available, and civilizations trust it, then they will not attempt the average case.

For the Prime Directive *not* to be "in practice" you have to make a very strong case that the overlords can "salvage" a contacted species without "poisoning" it. If you destroy its will to survive/evolve (because of an awareness of how pointless it is) then you do not want contact. If you do have contact and they are aware of it, how do you salvage the goals of "uninfluenced" evolution?

The "Prime Directive" is not so easily circumvented as you might like and may be a very natural conclusion by rational thinkers.