On Sat, Dec 24, 2011 at 11:13 AM, Jason Resch <jasonre...@gmail.com> wrote:

> "The great filter might simply be a belief in non-interference."

A universe wide conspiracy of silence seems like a pretty weak idea to
explain the profound fact that the universe does not appear to have been
engineered. Just one Von Newman Probe sent to just one other sun would cost
pocket change for an advanced civilization, to suggest that not one
individual in one of those civilizations bothered to do so even on a whim
is simply not credible. Even if the probe moved no faster than the rockets
of today (a ridiculously conservative idea) it could engineer the entire
Galaxy in less than 50 million years, the blink of an eye in other words.
Then we would see an engineered Galaxy, and if that had happened you
wouldn't need sophisticated experiments to detect ET, a blind man in a fog
bank would know.

So either we are the first or mind always runs into some sort of
impenetrable wall if it tries to advance beyond a certain point. What could
be the nature of that wall? I can think of 2 possibilities, the second much
more likely than the first:

1) This idea is almost certainly bullshit, but suppose, just suppose nature
is unkind. Suppose that in the technological history of any civilization
there will come a time when it will find hints of a new force in nature,and
suppose there is a very obvious experiment to investigate that possibility,
and suppose because it is so new there is not one scrap of information to
think it is in any way dangerous so the experiment is performed. And then
BOOM, more energy is released in 10 seconds than the sun has generated in
its entire 5 billion year history.

It is of course difficult to predict how a newly discovered force in
Physics will behave, that's why it's new. Madam Curie was certainly not
stupid, and when she first discovered Radium she had not one scrap of
information to think that the strange rays given off by that element were
in any way dangerous, but it ended up killing her.

Well OK, Gamma Ray Bursters are almost certainly not industrial accidents,
but the idea might
make a good science fiction story.

2) This possibility I think is much more likely. Once we completely
understand how mind works it will be possible to change your emotions to
anything you wanted, alter modes of thought, radically change your
personality, swap your goals as well as your philosophy of life as easily
as you change your shirt today, and that would be very dangerous.

Ever want to accomplish something but been unable to do so because it's
difficult? Well just change your goal in life to something simple and do
that; better yet, just flood your mind with a feeling of pride for a job
well done and don't bother accomplishing anything at all. Think all this is
a terrible idea and stupid as well, no problem, just change your mind (and
I do mean CHANGE YOUR MIND) now you think it's a wonderful idea.

Complex mechanisms don't do well in positive feedback loops, not
electronics, not animals, not people, not ET's and not even Jupiter brains.
I mean who wouldn't want to be a little happier; if all you had to do is
move a knob a little what could it hurt, oh that's much better maybe a
bit more, just a bit more, a little more...

So the world could end not in a bang or a whimper but in an eternal
mindless orgasm. I'm not saying this is definitely going to happen but I do
think about it a little.

"I think nearly all alien civilizations will reach a state of
> super-intelligence before it achieves interstellar travel."

Even without interstellar travel or Von Newman Probes our largest radio
telescopes could communicate with a similar instrument almost anywhere in
the Galaxy. So why don't we hear ET?

  John K Clark

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