Re: The Point of No Return

Anders Sandberg (
Fri, 20 Dec 1996 18:42:58 +0100 (MET)

On Mon, 9 Dec 1996, David Musick wrote:

> Is
> there a level of advancement beyond which highly intelligent life is
> impossible to destroy?

I define a technosphere as a spreading cloud of interstellar
civilization, that colonizes the solar systems it reaches and spreads
farther and farther. This could be just a slow expansion due to amateur
colonists and "Oort gypsies", or it could be a blazing expansion of von
Neumann probes.

A disaster able to wipe out the entire technosphere would have to overrun
it. If the technosphere spreads close to lightspeed, then any catastrophy
moving at lightspeed (like vacuum decay) will take a very long time to
devastate all of the technosphere.

Here is a spacetime diagram:

\ \
\ "safe" \
\ area \
\ \ Awful disaster
\ \ spreading at lightspeed
\ \
\ / \
\ / \
\ / \
\/ \
Birth of \
the technosphere.\

So in this case the necessary technological level would be the ability to
spread close to lightspeed in a technosphere. Anybody care for a race to
the Berenices Cloud?

Of course, other disasters might be space-like, like proton decay or The
Arrival Of The Great Handkerchief.

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