Michael Wiik wrote:
> the price of failure for contact, even at a very low risk, is much
> higher than any potential rewards. A power might have a few hours
> amusement studying earth people, but if this planet contains (unbeknowst
> to us) a hidden evil power that entraps such a visitor, this leads to
> the aforementioned hideous torture for eons.
If technological progress is open-ended, any hostile Power that isn't part of your own society will either be far more advanced than you are (in which case you can neither fight it nor run from it) or far less advanced (in which case you are invulnerable to it). This follows clearly from the fact that biological evolution is many orders of magnitude slower than technological progress.
If progress eventually comes to a halt, then you get a situation where all SIs are of comparable sophistication and the results of combat depend primarily on who has most resources. In this case combative Powers would rapidly be forced to mobilize all the mass in their environment for defensive purposes - either as physical weapons, as computing devices devoted to information warfare, or (more likely) as some combination of the two, plus whatever infrastructure is required to support them.
Neither case predicts the sort of scenario you suggest.
Billy Brown, MCSE+I