On Sun, Feb 11, 2018 at 3:21 AM, Telmo Menezes <te...@telmomenezes.com>

> ​> ​
> the argument ignores the possibility that civilizations
> might be able to thrive for a very long time without ever expanding
> much beyond their original planet.

​I'm sorry but that argument just makes no sense. Unless the laws of
physics are very different from what we think they are then nanotechnology
is possible, if so then intelligence is going to have a major impact on the
large scale structure of the universe; the fact that we can't observe the
slightest sign of this happening has profound implications.    ​

> ​> ​
> Even if a
> ​ ​
> civilization figured out a way to tolerate interstellar voyages taking
> ​ ​
> thousands or millions of years,

​Civilizations don't have to figure out ways to tolerate interstellar
voyages, only Von Neumann probes do, and that would be easy for them.

> ​> ​
> Without fast communication channels, they would fragment-- perhaps like
> the Roman Empire.

​Yes. So what? Fragmented or not Intelligence ​
​would be a major force effecting the large scale structure of the

​> ​
> It could be that this idea that the external space is more interesting
> than the internal is just an obsession characteristic of our stage of
> ​
> development.

​Not plausible. All it would take is one individual in one civilization to
take an once or so of matter and turn it into a Von Neumann  Probe​

​and then build a rocked far less powerful than Elon ​Musk's recently
launched Falcon Heavy and we're off to the races. But this has clearly not
happened, the ET equivalent of
Elon ​Musk
​ does not exist in the observable universe ​
and I can
​only ​
of two explanations for this that doesn't sound ridiculously contrived.

> ​> ​
> Perhaps the mysteries of the external space are exhausted
> ​ ​
> in a few millennia past our current point, and then all that is left
> is to invent new things within artificial computational environments.
> ​ ​
> Who knows?

​It's not as if we're talking about some huge expensive commitment, ​once
you have Drexler style nanotechnology its not only possible its easy to
turn the galaxy into a power station, and doing so would be literally as
cheap as dirt too.

> ​> ​
> Well... you talked about Von Neumann probes. I also imagine that as a
> way to expand a civilization. But then, who knows what transformations
> the entities go through? Do they merge with machines, or opt to be
> totally emulated by machines?

​I don't need to answer those questions if I'm trying to figure out why
intelligence has
​not shaped the universe, they're irrelevant. ​

> ​> ​
> At what time scales will they operate
> ​ ​
> then?

​50 million years would be enough time to reshape our 13 bullion year old
galaxy, and that is
making the absurdly conservative assumption ​that ET can't send probes any
faster than we could in the 1970's.

> ​> ​
> And needing which type of resource?

All a Von Neumann probe needs is energy and ​atoms, carbon being the most
important although other elements ​would come in handy. Stars provide lots
of energy and there are plenty of nice juicy atoms in asteroids and

> ​> ​
> And how do they obtain them?

​By going to stars and asteroids and planets in a small rocket.

> ​> ​
> Aren't you expecting that something absurdly advanced in relation to
> ​ ​
> us is readily recognizable by us?

​Certainly. We're ​absurdly advanced compared to Neanderthal culture so if
you dropped Mr. Neanderthal down in the middle of Manhattan he wouldn't
understand a lot about what was going on but he'd understand that this was
a special place, this was something fundamentally different from mountains
and valleys and lakes and rivers, which was all he had ever seen before.

> >
>> ​>​
>> I don't see why a galactic civilization would give a damn if we knew about
>> ​
>>  them or not, and even they can't hide from the second law of
>> thermodynamics.
>> ​
>>  Where is the galactic civilization's waste heat??
> ​> ​
> They could do it for our benefit. Or for the opportunity to study us. Or
> both.

​That explanation strikes me as contrived as hell, and you still haven't
told me where there waste heat went. ​

> ​> ​
> If they can maintain a civilization at the galactic scale -- with
> communication and all -- then they clearly know some physics that we
> don't.

​No new physics is required to reshape the galaxy, it just needs improved
engineering skill.

John K Clark ​

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