Re: Will SETI show us we can survive? (fwd)

Robert J. Bradbury (
Mon, 2 Aug 1999 12:22:44 -0700 (PDT)

> Brent Allsop <> writes:

> Rammage <> said:

> > The receipt of a single message from space would show it is possible
> > to live through such technological adolescence: the transmitting
> > civilization, after all, has survived. Such knowledge, it seems to
> > me, might be worth a great price."

Logical disconnect! Why do you need a message from space to show us that it is possible to live though "technological adolescence"? While the universe is a dangerous place due to both its physics and "active efforts" on the part of individuals trying to survive (evil?), surviving our adolescence *does not* violate laws of physics. A message from space (unless it includes statistical information from billions of years of observations) will tell us nothing about the *odds* of surviving. They could be 1 million to 1 *for* or *against*.

So IMHO, such knowledge isn't worth the carrier wave it is sent on.

> I get so sick of "prime directives" and all the
> other theodicies attempting to twist evil into being good so people
> can find a scapegoat for their cherished belief in supper aliens or
> Gods out there watching us down here suffer and struggle.

The aliens are effectively "gods", and they simply don't care. Every day you sit on the toilet you are flushing trillions of harmless little bacteria (they are even benificial to you!) down the pipes, to go to the local processing plant where most of them end up dead! Does that make you *evil*?

> What
> possible reason could there be for some kind of a "prime directive"
> (and all the other logically absurd theodicies attempting to justify
> God) implying they should just sit idly by watching while we struggle,
> suffer and die down here!?

There isn't a prime directive (unless we are an experiment) or our evolution into a higher form represents something of potential value. The simplest explanation is they is simply too little interest.

> My parents are dieing...! I don't want to lose them! Screw
> the prime directive, all the other theodicies that attempt to justify
> the existence of Gods in the face of our suffering... and give us a
> hand down here!

Brent, while I am extremely sympathetic to your position, I think you should reconsider it. Natural selection works. Stick your fingers in it and you end up with suboptimal entities.

> I don't want to try to justify all this evil and
> suffering and think that it is necessary some how, and that we
> possibly may not want to help other life that we might find (or create
> ourselves) that might be more primitive than our own for some "prime
> directive" like idea or theodicy.

Ok, well it puts you on the slippery slope. If you don't have a "prime directive", how do you decide exactly who to help? Dogs but not cats? Cats but not dogs? Resources & time are limited and you have to make decisions. If you share your resources with someone else, you might not have them someday when you need them. I'm not saying that you shouldn't make sacrifices, but I think you may not have a "rational" system to decide what to do and what not to do.

> If I ever gain the ability to go
> out exploring in space and find a kind of life that is still suffering
> and dieing in mere slow and tortuous survival of the fittest mode, I
> can tell you, I plan on jumping in as fast as is possible and more or
> less giving them anything they want that we can possibly manage to
> give, to bring them at least up to our level.

You don't have to go out into space to do it. You can start right here on earth. Block "whale hunts" or "tiger hunts" for starters. When you have stopped those, come back to me and I'll list a few other endangered species you can devote some time to.

> I hope there is no need
> for all this suffering and that I will eternally do all I can to
> eliminate it all for every sentient being as soon as is possible.

Ah, well now we do have a dividing line -- "save" the sentient beings and let everyone else "suffer" under the ruthless knife of natural selection. Last time I checked, starvation and AIDS were killing millions of people a year (here on Earth!), you could help them here and now instead of waiting for interstellar travel.

With regard to your parents, you should discuss cryonics with them. The interesting thing is that I've discussed it to some degree with my parents and they don't want any part of it. The memes for "I like my world just the way it is" are too strong. Without a mindset that embraces adapting to an ever increasing rate of change your parents are doomed anyway. Sooner or later they will fail to choose an option (e.g. not living in S.F. when the big one hits, not flying in 20th century aircraft, not investing in searches for asteroids likely to hit the earth, not uploading when it becomes available, etc.) that would allow them to live forever. I found that knowing that my parents will pass on simply leaving the memories of who they were and what they contributed to me are sufficient. I do hope they will however go quickly and painlessly and would work actively to ensure that is the case.