Re: Re: Re: Barely Detectable Aliens
Tue, 27 Jul 1999 00:30:11 EDT

John Clark writes:

>>Assuming that they _wanted_ to engineer the cosmos.

>To repeate, "they" don't need to do anything, all it would take is one
>deciding that the Universe wasn't quite the way he'd like it to be.

I understand exactly what you're saying. My problem is not with the scenario, per se, but rather with the following assumptions. I'm not claiming that any one poster endorses all of these, but they're certainly prevalent.

  1. Alien civilizations using highly advanced nanotech are going to have goals and ambitions that we can readily understand, even from our current state-of-the-art. I find this premature. I'm _all_ for speculation, so long as it's addressed as such. But too many posts have simply said "this is the way it is," clinging to the nanotech scenario with such intensity that I find it sort of absurd.
  2. Alien civilizations are necessarily going to be more rational than us. I agree that a lot of them will be. But the "reasoning" here is that, if they're rational, they'll wait until they develop a sophisticated nanotechnology before they dare step out of there solar system. We just don't know enough to make pronouncements about this. For heaven's sake, we have yet to even upload a person's mind. One possible reason flesh-aliens may choose to travel bodily (and I'm not excluding genetic engineering) is because they want to experience the thrill of discovery firsthand, not through sentient proxies.
  3. The prevailing idea of late is that not only will alien civilizations employ advanced nanotech, but they will necessarily use nanotech to perform megascale projects visible at galactic/intergalactic distances. I agree that we should be looking for such structures. But the assertion that since we haven't seen any structures (at least, not immediately recognizable as such) _ intelligent aliens don't exist_ is an imaginative and intellectual failure.

We have a long history of making "aliens" out to be advanced versions of ourselves. This is fine, as long as it's grounded in the realization that said "aliens" are thought experiments, extrapolations of ourselves from a single point in technological history. On the other hand, I can imagine enormously intelligent aliens who might very well scoff at the sort of roles we've been assigning them (assuming, of course, they could even _understand_ such roles).

>My friend, any technology that has the awesome power of Nanotechnology will
>have religious implications. This fact makes some people uncomfortable. So
be >it.

This is debatable. Some alien cultures may well interpret nanotech religiously. But I tend to think that any culture who can develop and use nanotech will have surpassed the need for such primitive devices.

>Like permanently stimulating the pleasure centers of their brain? There's
>no disputing matters of taste but personally I don't find a civilization of
>junkies to be very interesting.

I don't either. But I wasn't referring to rats pressing levers; rather, something the likes of which we haven't yet conceptualized. And I firmly think that there are evolutionary pathways the likes of which even us extropians haven't mapped out in all their intrinsic complexity.

>My ideas are certainly crazy, the only question is, are they crazy enough
>to be true?

Sure! My only real objection here, and let me reiterate, is that I'd be really surprised if the nano-scenario was the only one at work in our galaxy. And since we haven't yet seen evidence for the megascale clues predicted by this scenario, it's a real shame to see list members announcing that _there are no aliens_--the proclamation of a dangerously fragile ego, in my opinion. Perhaps even more upsetting to me is the cowardly add-on "well, even if there _are_ aliens, if they don't use nanotech, they aren't interesting." I recommend we leave the definition of "interesting'" up to individual posters instead of cramming it down others' throats.

--Mac Tonnies