RE: "Web-mediated SETI": Robert Bradbury Replies

Billy Brown (
Tue, 2 Nov 1999 15:57:01 -0600

Robert J. Bradbury wrote:
> No, when I look at this problem I'm not looking for "enforced" solutions
> (for the reasons you point out). I'm looking for logical solutions
> by the environment.

> I don't assume there is an "enforced" Prime-Directive. I do assume
> (a) there really is nobody out there; or
> (b) the prime directive "followers" are our care-takers/observers; or
> (c) the non-prime directive "followers" haven't reached us (yet); or
> (d) there is virtually no point for a prime directive because we
> aren't of any interest or importantace to the ETs (i.e. convergent
> evolution creates a disinterest in non-space environment occupying
> creatures by space occupying creatures).

As the above list makes clear, you have a much bigger implicit assumption that is very improbable, and therefore requires a great deal of justification. Specifically, you are assuming that no SI ever wants to do anything that would be especially visible to us. They don't disassemble solar systems to build things, they don't reorganize galaxies to optimize the mass distribution, and they certainly don't to any recognizable sort of cosmological engineering.

> If (b) is true, my personal opinion is that they will suspend the
> rules when we are "interesting" to talk to. If one of those rules
> is that they be "invited to the party" (IR), then we should do that.

We've been doing that ever since we learned how to pray. If sincerity were the key we'd already be talking. If correctly understanding what they are is important we still have a long way to go. Either way, I don't see that posting a message on the Internet is any more likely to work than striking up a conversation with the nearest wall.

> Part of allowing evolution to occur "naturally" is to allow the
> brutality of [human] "nature" to takes its course. If they
> were around 65 million years ago and didn't off the dinosaurs
> they certainly didn't stop it either. It isn't easy to come
> up with a set of rules for when you can violate the prime
> directive. Numerous Star Trek episodes about that one.

What could possibly convince every single individual of every sentient species within a billion light years to abide by such a code? The Prime Directive is a human invention founded on the idea that all cultures are equivalent and meaningful improvement in the human condition is not possible. Neither of these propositions is true.

If primitive sentient life has value then allowing primitives to die while they struggle towards understanding is immoral. If primitive sentient life does not have value then why not convert the solar system into something that does? Either way, you don't get the world we live in.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I