Re: The Great Filter

Anders Sandberg (
Thu, 15 Aug 1996 15:33:09 +0200 (MET DST)

On Wed, 14 Aug 1996, Robin Hanson wrote:

> Eugene Leitl writes:
> >Yes. The transcension scenario. The silence in the skies is a good
> >argument for it, imo.
> You mean silence is good evidence for unlimited local computation?

Not good evidence, but it is compatible with it. Note that it doesn't
have to be local, just on another plane. Maybe there is a lot going on in
the quantum noise around us.

> Michael Wiik writes:
> >I agree, but then we get back to the original question of why we don't
> >observe the impact of intelligence upon the universe. The idea of the
> >inward path is only a speculation on how advanced intelligence may survive
> >(and even thrive) and yet have minimum impact upon the physical universe.
> >One could say that both Egan's _Permutation City_ and Bear's _Blood Music_
> >are fictional examples of a society with exploding populations which don't
> >move out into the real universe.
> These stories are all pretty short on cosmological time scales.
> Unless you can create local baby universes, our best physics says you
> will eventually run out of local negentroy for computation, after
> which the only route to growth is spatial expansion.

_Permutation City_ describes an interesting universe where negentropy
never runs out, since it appears as part of its expansion. But in our
spacetime and physics, it is limited.

> >Sometimes I think that the "natural order" is artificial: stars are
> >power generators, galaxies are really computer nets and so on.
> But then why have we had so much success explaining astrophysical
> phenomena with simple physical processes?

Good question. One possibility is that very advanced technology is
extremely ephermeral and natural-looking and hence hard to distinguish
from natural phenomena. For example, the sun might work as expected, but
the solar neutrinos are used by someone for something. Dark matter might
be large nanostructures spread across the universe, sending packets of
information as gamma ray bursts.

How to tell the difference between nature and technology? Technology
tends to optimize *something*, and a good guess would be (given our
current information-bias) information production or storage. So, what
media in cosmos might be able to store or process a lot of information?

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y