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The Fermi Paradox


adesigar
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I think more than likely if we encounter any form of intelligent life it will likely be robotic.

 

It's unfortunate more money wasn't pumped into NASA because getting telescopes off the ground takes decades to occur. The ATLAST telescope is not slated for another 10 years and is our best chance of seeing if life exists 150 light years away.

 

 

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I've read this some time ago.

 

On one hand it is disconcerting.

 

On the other hand, if we found alien civilization(s), the likely effect would not be positive, so "no news is good news" perhaps.

 

If I had to bet, I'd likely bet for "they are so advanced we cannot detect them and they either ignore us or zoo/quarantine us".

 

I think that any Great Filter would be too leaky given the number of stars/planets/life/civilizations involved. Of course, I can't prove this especially if the Great Filter is "every techno civilization eventually self-destructs". It just seems that any filter would be too leaky.

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One possible reason for the paradox is the simulation argument.

 

The more I think about it the more reasonable the argument seems.  I can't see any way to disprove it.

 

The short version is that as a civilization becomes more and more advanced and computing power becomes more and more powerful, they will likely run ancestor simulations.  If they do this, they will run lots of them.  Thus it is more probable that we are in one of those simulations rather than part of the "real" world.  Maybe quantum mechanics is just the simulations quantized approximation of the physics of the real universe.  There may be other life in the real universe, but no other life but on this planet in our simulation.

 

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I can't remember who wrote/said that in the history of civilizations meeting for the first time, there has never been an instance in which a weaker and stronger civilization meet in which the stronger civilization doesn't immediately and aggressively dominate the weaker one. (It's possible this is a movie quote rattling around in my brain...)

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I can't remember who wrote/said that in the history of civilizations meeting for the first time, there has never been an instance in which a weaker and stronger civilization meet in which the stronger civilization doesn't immediately and aggressively dominate the weaker one. (It's possible this is a movie quote rattling around in my brain...)

 

Stephen Hawking has said similar things, that might be what you are thinking of.  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/apr/26/stephen-hawking-issues-warning-on-aliens

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One possible reason for the paradox is the simulation argument.

 

The more I think about it the more reasonable the argument seems.  I can't see any way to disprove it.

 

The short version is that as a civilization becomes more and more advanced and computing power becomes more and more powerful, they will likely run ancestor simulations.  If they do this, they will run lots of them.  Thus it is more probable that we are in one of those simulations rather than part of the "real" world.  Maybe quantum mechanics is just the simulations quantized approximation of the physics of the real universe.  There may be other life in the real universe, but no other life but on this planet in our simulation.

 

Right, I know about simulation argument.

 

I don't bet on simulation argument since it is rather depressing possibility IMHO. They could pull the plug and we would not even have time to sell our BRK holdings. :P Or more seriously: what's the benefit of exploration if you're living in simulation?  ::) There are other deep philosophical questions in such situation, most of them quite depressing.

 

Certainly this is one of the possibilities though.

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I can't remember who wrote/said that in the history of civilizations meeting for the first time, there has never been an instance in which a weaker and stronger civilization meet in which the stronger civilization doesn't immediately and aggressively dominate the weaker one. (It's possible this is a movie quote rattling around in my brain...)

 

Stephen Hawking has said similar things, that might be what you are thinking of.  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/apr/26/stephen-hawking-issues-warning-on-aliens

 

Yes. That's the one. Thanks!

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What I find most fascinating about all of this is what if we do see signs of intelligent life. Now what?

 

Do governments now shift significant resources to putting more telescopes into space? I'm sure there would be lots of debates questioning the merits of communicating with them. If there's one how many more civilizations are out there? Or are we only seeing one because they're the Super Predator or exceeded all odds and have managed like us to still survive...

 

My guess would be a massive collaboration amongst major nations in teaming up to pool resources together to monitor the situation. And science initiatives redirected towards more space based R&D.

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What I find most fascinating about all of this is what if we do see signs of intelligent life. Now what?

 

Do governments now shift significant resources to putting more telescopes into space? I'm sure there would be lots of debates questioning the merits of communicating with them. If there's one how many more civilizations are out there? Or are we only seeing one because they're the Super Predator or exceeded all odds and have managed like us to still survive...

 

My guess would be a massive collaboration amongst major nations in teaming up to pool resources together to monitor the situation. And science initiatives redirected towards more space based R&D.

 

I'm not sure what we would/should do, but at least we would know

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https://hacked.com/scientists-confirm-impossible-em-drive-propulsion/

 

Very very exciting! the almost ancient law of physics about to be broken. Who knows what will come out of this. we might be able to travel into space with significant % of light speed if this is true. It would also take a lot of the cost for satellites out of it if true.

 

The way i heard this explained was that it would be like rowing through the electromagnetic field. or like a submarine through water.  Light is basically a disturbance in the EM field (waves in a invisible field that stretches through the universe). And by shoot lightbeams in a closed tube in a certain way, supposedly you would then get thrust, if this is not a measuring error. Without an actual action reaction between mass.  would be interesting if this was true, and how far they could stretch this.

 

And ofcourse it was discovered by accident lol.

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Hey all:

 

It could be that most advanced civilizations are NOT transmitting via radio waves.

 

Think about our society over the last 80 years.  At first almost everything was broadcast via radio (shortwave, AM),  As time progresses we went to cable, direct satellite, and of course the internet.

 

I imagine that in 20 years, most communication will be through the internet and will have very little leakage that could be picked up.  A society 500+ years more advanced than we are might have virtually no radio waves or EM leakage.

 

It could also be that we've listened to well less than 1% of the available spectrum.

 

With the new initiative by Yuri Milner, we might know a lot more in a few years.

 

It certainly will be exciting...

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Hey all:

 

I forgot to mention that the amount being spent on the search for radio contact is about the amount being spent on ONE new generation fighter plane.

 

Additionally, construction of the world's largest radio telescope is well under way in China.

 

Kind of makes one think.

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Or that radio waves only have a tiny tiny reach in our galaxy. As they tend to spread out as they travel longer. And there are 100 billion galaxies. So the signal becomes lost in the back ground noise rather quickly.

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2012/3390.html?

 

It could be that faster then light travel is not possible, so alien civilizations have given up on space travel. For us it is still exciting, but maybe if a civilization progresses another thousand years, they stop caring about it. Possibly they terraform a nearby planet, but that is about it. Since the universe is really really empty. There was a planet discovered 1200 light years from here recently, almost exactly like earth, with very similar sun, that had been orbiting for a billion years longer then us. Could be that they are super advanced, but don't see the point in travelling several thousand years to us? Even at 30% light speed, which would be ridicilous, it woudl take 3600 years. And then there is risk our planet might be destroyed by that time. Maybe they are watching us, except ofcourse they are watching us in the middle ages now with super powerful telescopes.

 

Also worth noting that most stars in the universe are red dwarfs (70% of them). And red dwarfs dont support life very well. Planets tend to be tidally locked if they are in a spot to reach enough sun light  (meaning only one side to the sun all the time). And solar winds tend to blow off the atmosphere because they have to be closer to the sun, plus huge variations in temperature.

 

We are also relatively early in the age of our universe at 14 billion years.  It took at least 6-7 billiion years for planets to form. And then it takes several billion years longer to actually form life. It could be that chances of intelligent life over the next few billion years increases rapidly?

 

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Or that radio waves only have a tiny tiny reach in our galaxy. As they tend to spread out as they travel longer. And there are 100 billion galaxies. So the signal becomes lost in the back ground noise rather quickly.

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2012/3390.html?

 

It could be that faster then light travel is not possible, so alien civilizations have given up on space travel. For us it is still exciting, but maybe if a civilization progresses another thousand years, they stop caring about it. Possibly they terraform a nearby planet, but that is about it. Since the universe is really really empty. There was a planet discovered 1200 light years from here recently, almost exactly like earth, with very similar sun, that had been orbiting for a billion years longer then us. Could be that they are super advanced, but don't see the point in travelling several thousand years to us? Even at 30% light speed, which would be ridicilous, it woudl take 3600 years. And then there is risk our planet might be destroyed by that time. Maybe they are watching us, except ofcourse they are watching us in the middle ages now with super powerful telescopes.

 

Also worth noting that most stars in the universe are red dwarfs (70% of them). And red dwarfs dont support life very well. Planets tend to be tidally locked if they are in a spot to reach enough sun light  (meaning only one side to the sun all the time). And solar winds tend to blow off the atmosphere because they have to be closer to the sun, plus huge variations in temperature.

 

We are also relatively early in the age of our universe at 14 billion years.  It took at least 6-7 billiion years for planets to form. And then it takes several billion years longer to actually form life. It could be that chances of intelligent life over the next few billion years increases rapidly?

 

 

If they're that advanced, maybe they can travel at 95% or 99% the speed of light, at which point the time experienced for those on board would be a fraction of the 1200 years due to time dilation.

 

We shouldn't be so quick to rule out life on planets that may be inhabitable to us. Life comes in so many different forms on Earth, who's to say it can't be vastly different on other planets, with vastly different types of needs and tolerances?

 

Just being devil's advocate. This stuff is fascinating to talk about but I hate how it's all just speculation and nothing more.

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yeah that is true, time would contract a lot, and it would take a lot less time. The problem is it would shred everything inside the space ship because you would have to speed up so fast. At least as far as I understand it. And even a tiny little object in the way would completely destroy it at those speeds.

 

Also not ruling out that life could exist on a red dwarf, just think they could not be intelligent. It would be very simple life, since they would either have to have a super dense atmosphere or they will have no atmosphere at all. And temperature variations would be huge. They would not have the luxury to have their offspring develop their brain for that long like we have. Gravity would be a lot stronger, so space exploration would only be possible if they would get super advanced tech. And would looking at the stars be possible?

 

It does seem that if the enviroment is extremely harsh, you also get tougher but more hostile people. So it would be interesting if intelligent life actually did develop on a planet like that. They must be so different then us!

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I think confusing intelligent life with life that has the desire/ability to reach space is a mistake. Even here on Earth there are relatively intelligent life forms that have no chance of ever reaching space. Take Orcas for example, they're the most widely distributed animal on the planet and by all accounts one of the most intelligent after primates. Still, their chances of building a rocket capable of reaching space with flippers for appendages are almost nil. As humans we're incredibly lucky in that we have both intelligence and the means to express through the creation of tools. It also helps we live on a planet small enough to make it relatively easy to reach space using chemical rockets. If Earth was more massive like some of the recently discovered Earth-like planets reaching space would be quite a bit harder using chemical rockets, if not impossible. At the end of the day, humans are the right mix of smart/crazy to be able to reach space and actually want to go there. I suspect this combination  is a lot more rare than we can appreciate, space is a very hostile environment and most intelligent extraterrestrials would probably have no desire to go there. Couple that with how expansive space is and you get our isolation.

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I think confusing intelligent life with life that has the desire/ability to reach space is a mistake. Even here on Earth there are relatively intelligent life forms that have no chance of ever reaching space. Take Orcas for example, they're the most widely distributed animal on the planet and by all accounts one of the most intelligent after primates. Still, their chances of building a rocket capable of reaching space with flippers for appendages are almost nil. As humans we're incredibly lucky in that we have both intelligence and the means to express through the creation of tools. It also helps we live on a planet small enough to make it relatively easy to reach space using chemical rockets. If Earth was more massive like some of the recently discovered Earth-like planets reaching space would be quite a bit harder using chemical rockets, if not impossible. At the end of the day, humans are the right mix of smart/crazy to be able to reach space and actually want to go there. I suspect this combination  is a lot more rare than we can appreciate, space is a very hostile environment and most intelligent extraterrestrials would probably have no desire to go there. Couple that with how expansive space is and you get our isolation.

 

I agree and disagree with you.  I disagree that most intelligent (at the level of human or higher) species would have no desire to go to space.  There are obvious everyday communication advantages in having the ability to put objects in orbit around your planet.  These advantages would be even more important on a larger planet where the potential distances are even greater than on Earth.  Also, any species intelligent enough to put satellites in orbit would be intelligent enough to think that it might not be a good idea to have all of your eggs in one basket.  The idea of colonizing nearby moons, planets, large asteroids naturally follows.

 

Now where I agree with you.  I don't think a species without the right mix of smart/crazy to do those things would ever build cities or have anything like what we call a civilization.  This quote comes to mind:

 

“Every fact of science was once damned. Every invention was considered impossible. Every discovery was a nervous shock to some orthodoxy. Every artistic innovation was denounced as fraud and folly. The entire web of culture and ‘progress,’ everything on earth that is man-made and not given to us by nature, is the concrete manifestation of some man’s refusal to bow to Authority. We would own no more, know no more, and be no more than the first apelike hominids if it were not for the rebellious, the recalcitrant, and the intransigent. As Oscar Wilde truly said, ‘Disobedience was man’s Original Virtue.”  Robert Anton Wilson

 

Progress comes from the smart/crazy/rebelliousness in human nature, and all three of these qualities together are even rare in us, but without individuals who posses all three we would never have been anymore than chimpanzees are today.  I wonder if there are a ton of worlds out there with the intelligence equivalents of chimps and orcas on them where no species with appendages able to grasp tools ever evolves the smart/crazy/rebelliousness attributes required for real progress?

 

Maybe that is the great filter.

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Maybe that is the great filter.

 

Anybody who posits a "Great Filter" has to remember that it has to be very very good filter. There are billions of stars/planets. There's also billions of years in development. So "Great Filter" has to be something on the order of 1B:1 if not stronger.

 

Most of the filters proposed here and elsewhere are much more leaky IMO.

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Maybe that is the great filter.

 

Anybody who posits a "Great Filter" has to remember that it has to be very very good filter. There are billions of stars/planets. There's also billions of years in development. So "Great Filter" has to be something on the order of 1B:1 if not stronger.

 

Most of the filters proposed here and elsewhere are much more leaky IMO.

 

 

There could be multiple filters.  What if only 1 in a billion planets which can support life ever develop it.  What if 1 in a billion planets which have life ever develop multicelled organisms.  What if 1 in a billion planets with multicelled organisms ever develop a species with a large brain.  What if 1 in a billion species with large brains have appendages able to grasp tools.  What if 1 in a billion of those species has the right combination of smarts/crazy/rebelliousness to build a technological civilization.  What if only 1 in a billion technological civilizations fail to destroy themselves before discovering faster than light travel, .... and on and on.

 

There could be a great number of filters all put together comprising a Great Filter.

 

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Yeah from watching cosmos I got that there were early human like creatures that would make tools and would be more advanced then chimps. But they were very focused and specialized in certain things and could not adapt quickly. They had an edge on early humans that were like us (that were not very specialized).  Then conditions on earth became more harsh (or just harsh enough?) and only the creatures that would constantly adapt to new climates and environments could survive (us). And the very fixed creatures who specialized but could not change their ways quickly did not survive.

 

So you have to wonder how much more harsh could things have been before we would have died out? What does that bell curve look like? Where a certain type of harshness produces us? A bit less harsh and you get bad adjusters that take way too long to change their ways and a bit too harsh and you get more extreme humans that are more violent (because of the lack of resources + hostile nature), or a quick extinction altogether?

 

So you might need a white star like us (only 10-20% in the universe?). You need a planet circling it in stable orbit for at least 1-2  billion years or so. It would have to be in a relative quiet area in the universe without gamma rays (that would rule out a lot of sun like stars).

 

And then you would need all kinds of  natural selection filters that last just long enough and are just extreme enough to produce the kind of intelligence that can figure out how to cross to other star systems.

 

Finally you would need a certain amount of resources like metals and fossil fuels. What if there are too many fossil fuels? There might not be enough pressure to find alternatives. Too little and you might run out too soon and it could destroy civilization.

 

It would have to have the right amount of gravity. Who says that you could get enough info to advance tech without the info our hubble telescope provided about the universe?

 

Or how about this, without satellites the cold war might have went different? As that provided a big break through in intelligence for the allies. So you would have to avoid an extinction event there.

 

And we are scared of nukes now, but what if we invent a new energy source that is even more powerful and can use anything as fuel? It might become suddenly much easier to build powerful bombs.

 

And finally you would have to assume faster then light travel is possible in theory. Our galaxy is about 100k light years across. So 50k light years from us there might exist a massive advanced multiplanetary civilization that possibly knows of our existence (that would be very hard though, since they cannot see us yet)? But they think we are too far away to bother visiting if they would have powerful enough telescopes.

 

So if there are a 100 billion habitable planets with intelligent life in our universe that is only one planet per galaxy on average. So odds are very low of meeting in that case, despite having a 100 billion planets with inteligent life!

 

Even if there were 10 or 20 in our galaxy, on average they could be too far away to practically meet.

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There could be multiple filters.  What if only 1 in a billion planets which can support life ever develop it.  What if 1 in a billion planets which have life ever develop multicelled organisms.  What if 1 in a billion planets with multicelled organisms ever develop a species with a large brain.  What if 1 in a billion species with large brains have appendages able to grasp tools.  What if 1 in a billion of those species has the right combination of smarts/crazy/rebelliousness to build a technological civilization.  What if only 1 in a billion technological civilizations fail to destroy themselves before discovering faster than light travel, .... and on and on.

 

There could be a great number of filters all put together comprising a Great Filter.

 

There could be.

 

Just to note that so far some filters are shown to be more leaky than expected before. E.g. the number of planets is much higher than expected before. The number of planets in "life zone" is much higher than expected before.

 

Some of the filters you mention are addressed in the studies and are much leakier than you suggest.

 

But for some probabilities are not known and cannot be easily known until we find life/etc. in other planets/stars. So you might be right about them.

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So you have to wonder how much more harsh could things have been before we would have died out? What does that bell curve look like? Where a certain type of harshness produces us? A bit less harsh and you get bad adjusters that take way too long to change their ways and a bit too harsh and you get more extreme humans that are more violent (because of the lack of resources + hostile nature), or a quick extinction altogether?

 

 

Any harsher and it would have been over. From our DNA it has been determined that the human population was once reduced to less than 1,000 reproductive adults. This near extinction event was the eruption of the volcano Toba on Sumatra.

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Multiple filters combined with the vastness of space is in my opinion why we haven't found anything, yet. I'd also wager that our first contact with an intelligent civilization goes something like when European explorers encountered Native Americans, with humans playing the role of the Europeans.

 

I saw this about an asteroid with more than $5 trillion of platinum making a pass near Earth. Once space starts to become profitable I think we'll see a tech boom that leads us to at the very least operating throughout our solar system. This leads to another possible filter, space is likely filled with numerous uninhabited solar systems, a space-faring race would have to pass up 100s of resource rich systems on its way to us. Even if they knew of us, why make the trip, our solar system probably isn't all that special, if you're capable of getting here there are likely many others closer.

 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericmack/2015/07/19/trillion-dollar-baby-asteroid-has-wannabe-space-miners-salivating/

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