Re: ...The evolution of Stellar Based Superminds...

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Thu Jul 20 2000 - 07:52:32 MDT

Robert Bradbury wrote:
>... If *any* civilization gets to the point that it *can* colonize it is
>going to *look* to see where it should colonize. ... You are not going to
>want to go someplace unless you have a fairly high certainty that it is
>"unoccupied". ... If you don't buy the above argument, then you have to make
>a concrete case for civilizations "leaping" before the look. ... Now, I
>believe any civilization ... will wait until nanotech ... dirt-cheap to
>build millions of telescopes to conduct the careful surveys ... discover an
>uncolonized galaxy or a colonized one ... If it is uncolonized, then you
>colonize out to the limits dictated by your advance knowledge that is
>limited by the speed of light. ... I would argue that the most likely
>situation is that that has already happened ... you have to make an argument
>that a civilization would strike out and start colonizing *knowing* that SIs
>existed. ... If the colonizers ... look and see nothing, then Robin's
>colony waves makes sense. If they cannot *prove* to themselves that they
>will not be stepping on some giant's toes, then colonization should only
>occur when you have taken your civilization to the highest possible levels
>because that is the only way you can defend yourself if you piss someone
>off. ... When I look out into the galaxy, I don't expect to see the people
>who reproduced and colonized the most -- I expect to see the smartest people.

I think your argument comes down to assuming the universe is pretty fully
colonized, with high powers near each location, but that such powers pretty
universally make themselves very dark, do not touch the bright things we see
near them, and aggressively squash anything that comes to touch them. It is
this last assumption that is most difficult to swallow.

After all, if there were dark powers everywhere that didn't care if you used
the bright things near them, then colonization waves could pass through the
universe just using the bright things, and staying clear of dark powers.
Whether you can see if a galaxy is colonized with dark things is irrelevant
in this case.

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

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Oct 02 2000 - 17:34:56 MDT