Re: Planetary SETI: What _should_ we be looking for?

Technotranscendence (
Sat, 24 Jul 1999 15:12:11 -0700

On Saturday, July 24, 1999 9:23 AM Rik van Riel <> wrote:
> A few mails back the (IMHO sensible) idea was mentioned
> that supersocieties have space as their living environment
> and only use planets to get building materials.

I tend to think so, but since we've no examples of such, this is all speculation. I also wonder if it would even be necessarilty to get materials from planets at all. My guess is that when you needed materials, you can finds hunks of rock and ice or just gather some dust and gas -- if recycling won't do the trick.

> If that is the case, why should they be in a hurry when
> they're travelling from one star to another?

Why even travel from star to star? Why not, instead stay in the less messy areas between stars, even between galaxies?

> The obvious answers would be population expansion or the
> 'need' to expand their living quarters or get material
> for scientific tests.
> But that answer can be effectively countered because:
> - advanced species very probably master birth control

Maybe, but all of this is predicated on an advanced species somehow being unified. Even on Earth, we have nations, regions, communities, and individuals who do not go with the overall flow. For instance, I heard a news story yesterday (on NPR, I believe) about how the Amish (an American religious group based mostly in Pennsylvania, USA) doubles its population every 20 years. That's an incredibly high rate. Granted, the Amish are not the cutting edge technologically, but I can imagine an advanced species having its subgroups doing stuff like that.

> - advances in science and building means you can do
> more with the same amount of material, so you don't
> usually need to get more and more raw materials

I generally agree. Of course, with increased ability, usually people want to do even more. Hence, we see people who are not just happy having all the things their parents or grandparents had for less. I certainly want much more than the around 100 years life span current tech might give me!:)

> - a huge ecology bubble needs a very good social system
> to start with -- and such a near-perfect society
> probably doesn't have the same urge as we have to have
> more and more possessions

I don't know. I think we can work with less than perfect solutions and even more advanced societies will have their problems. I'm sure what will probably happen is in many cases postbiological existence. In others, biological systems might be adapted to deal with messes much better. In still others, perhaps better ways of exploiting resources might come about for those who wish to adapt the system to them rather than vice versa. And I'm sure their will be solutions mixing these or even outside of these.

Move in clades!

Daniel Ust