Re: Converting scientists into transhumanists (was Re: seti@home ...)

Robert J. Bradbury (
Fri, 9 Jul 1999 17:28 PDT

> "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <> wrote:
> I really don't think we should strike at SETI.

I'm not "striking" at it, I'm bringing our thoughts to the table for examination. See my abstact at:

The SETI effort IMHO is very valid (though it has to be done a bit differently). What "our" ideas (can I say that?!?) do is strike at, however, is "astronomy" in general. There are many assumptions in astronomy that are determined by Ockham's Razor [the simplest explanation]. Unfortunately *almost all* astronomers assume that the UFE (universal fatality [probability] equation) for intelligent life = 1. Paraphrasing one of the gravitational microlensing experts with whom I dicussed these possibilities (and he was one of the younger, presumably more open minded individuals)) -- "If what you are saying is true (that SIs are capable of significant astroengineering), then we can't count on anything". I would anticipate a lot more resistance from the average astronomer than the average SETI researcher for the simple reason that I'm telling the average SETI researcher, you are basically correct, you just have limited your thinking too much. In contrast, I'm saying to the average astronomer -- you need to rethink your fundamental assumptions entirely in the light of an "intelligent" universe.

> For one thing, it's a perfectly legitimate endeavor,
> even if they're doing it for different reasons.

Agreed. And they aren't doing it for different reasons. They want to detect "life" out there. The only problem is that many people are limited by the preconception that the life is like "us", "now".

> For another thing, perhaps, say, the New Agers are more our
> natural enemies than people who don't measure up to Singularitarian
> standards in every possible respect.

I'm not sure if I understand this statement correctly. If you mean to say that because "New Agers" invoke or rely upon "magic" for their philosophies or perspectives, then I would agree. I have the same distaste for new-agers that I have for hard-core physicists invoking "new-magic" (why explain the missing mass as WIMPs when it can be explained by SIs?). Existing, generally accepted physics gives us a *lot* of room to play in -- lets completely explore that before we resort to "magic".

Fundamentally you are up against the meme (hope) that there isn't an integrated intelligence out there that is 25+ orders of magnitude above our level.