Re: Fermi Paradox in the news

From: Jason Joel Thompson (
Date: Fri Oct 27 2000 - 13:56:46 MDT

From: "Nick Bostrom" <>

> Yes, if you thought that the improbability lay in the task of getting a
> suitable solar system together and that once you had the right
> constellation of planets etc then it would be easy for organic matter to
> emerge and evolve into intelligent creatures.

Actually, I think the improbability lies on the highest level-- we inhabit a
reality with physical laws that can give rise to intelligent life. Any
further improbabilities below that level (class of sun, distance from gamma
ray bursts, planet with atmosphere, nominal gravity, etc, etc.) are the
purvue of hard science. We can measure them. We can form theories.

In any case, I think I've said enough on the subject. I think we'd require
a face to face conversation to achieve further mutual edification. (Too
much immediate feedback required to steer these thought processes in the
right directions. "No, wait, that's not what I'm talking about!" etc.)

So, let's talk about something else for a minute:

> That reality begets observers might well be surprising. It depends on what
> reality is like. If things were set up in such a way that it would have
> been extremely improbable that any observers should have come to exist
> (imagine e.g. some cosmic fortune wheel that had to stop in a very
> spot for life to emerge) then our existence would indeed be surprising. It
> is partly in order to avoid stipulating such a surprising contingency that
> people are leaning towards theories (such as multiverse theories)
> to which it would be much more probable that observers should exist.

What I find sort of puzzling is the concept that somehow the variables
required for reality have the capacity to be selected for. Scientists say:
"Well, if this fundamental number was even -slightly- different, life never
would have come into being! How extraordinarily unlikely!" as if the
variable in question were being spit out by a mystical random number
generator somewhere-- as if it had the opportunity to be many different
numbers and by pure chance settled on this one.

I have my thoughts on this, but let me ask: why is this an appealing way of
looking at reality?


::jason.joel.thompson:: ::founder::

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