Re: Great Filter, Low Profile, Cryptocosmology

Robin Hanson (
Tue, 22 Oct 96 10:31:39 PDT

Crosby_M writes:
>... by "Mechanism Design" and "signaling games" ... are you referring
>to mechanisms like Vickery's auction and your own Idea Futures?


>What would economists call the type of mechanisms (for trying to
>modulate chaotic systems, rather than eliminate them)

Economists don't focus much on systems described by differential
equations in time. So they don't have a snappy name for it.

>I fail to follow the reasoning behind that whole Hanson-Bishop
>discussion that aliens would likely have a "kill them and eat them"
>attitude rather than a "study them and trade with them" approach.

Some people try to explain why the universe looks dead by saying there
are lots of folks out there, but they are all hiding for fear of being
attacked by others. The point of our discussion is to analyze if this
is a plausible and self-consistent scenario. We are not advocating it.

>the impression that such a civilization would need an almost
>totalitarian control of its members in order to "hit and run" and avoid
>detection (low profile scenario), OR just to maintain its momentum and
>keep everyone committed to the 'pave it over', bigger-is-better strategy
>even if some might prefer to drop out and become independent agrarian
>planet huggers.

While central control might be needed to keep people quiet, little is
lost by letting people drop out of the expansion quest at will.

>By "pre-programmed" I was thinking that such a civilization would
>require a strict constitution and would use only approved designs in
>order to be 'optimal', rather than let market mechanisms, technology and
>cultural modes continue to evolve spontaneously.

Central control seems far more likely to perpetuate worse designs, so
allowing diversity seems a clear winning approach to expansion.

Robin D. Hanson