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Roko comments on Max Tegmark on our place in history: "We're Not Insignificant After All" - Less Wrong

18 [deleted] 04 January 2010 12:02AM

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Comment deleted 04 January 2010 01:51:02PM *  [-]
Comment author: timtyler 04 January 2010 09:29:00PM 4 points [-]

It seems like a weak argument to me: living systems typically invade all available niches - if they are here, we would see them.

For a much better argument, consider:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox#Intelligent_civilizations_are_too_far_apart_in_space_or_time

Comment deleted 05 January 2010 11:51:22AM [-]
Comment author: timtyler 05 January 2010 06:51:31PM 0 points [-]

Superintelligent agents can be expected to evolve out of systems that evolved by random mutations.

The systems that they evolved from can be expected to have goals that result in tracking down and utililising every available source of negentropy.

They will build superintelligent agents to help them attain these goals - and so the resulting systems are likely to be even better at tracking down and utilising negentropy than the original systems were - since they will pursue the same ends with greater competence.

Systems with radically different goals are not logically impossible. I call those "handicapped superintelligences". If they ever meet any other agents, it seems that they will be at a disadvantage - since nature disapproves of deviations from god's utility function.

Comment deleted 05 January 2010 07:24:24PM [-]
Comment author: Jack 04 January 2010 03:33:23PM 2 points [-]

I think wireheading, religious seclusion or some other memetic effect could keep them from expanding. I get that there is a selection effect in favor of expansionism but I think aliens could be weird enough that the entire range of variability is within isolationist boundaries. Besides, if you think the aliens can all agree to stop expanding to hide from theoretical simulators then I don't see why some other meme couldn't do the trick too.

Comment deleted 04 January 2010 08:54:44PM [-]
Comment author: Jordan 06 January 2010 08:42:59AM 1 point [-]

If the simulators are looking for intelligent life, then they may be removing it when they find it, to allow the rest of the universe to continue on producing other original life forms. Then, there would be intelligent life in hiding, and other intelligent life would be selected against.

Comment author: Jach 05 January 2010 09:24:27PM *  1 point [-]

While I'm not in any way an expert in simulation making, wouldn't it seem just a bit too convenient that, in all the monstrous computing power behind making the universe run, the Overlords couldn't devise a pretty clever and powerful algorithm that would have found us already? Maybe you can help me see why there would only be a crude algorithm that superintelligences should fear being caught by, and why they wouldn't have considered themselves caught already.

Apart from this, I'm in agreement with other commenters that a stronger argument is the vastness of space.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 05 January 2010 09:00:44AM -2 points [-]

Myself, I suspect the most plausible explanation is that interstellar colonization is simply a lot harder than we think. Nobody yet has managed to build a self-replicating probe that will actually survive through interstellar space intact and manage to set up a colony, and it's not a given that anyone ever will. Add to this the fact that even if it were possible, it could be horribly expensive, with a return on investment at least hundreds of years away.

Comment deleted 05 January 2010 11:45:56AM [-]
Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 05 January 2010 05:34:58PM 1 point [-]

space colonization is the only one that is so simple that even contemporary humans have a definite recipe for doing it that would probably work

Maybe. The nearest solar system - which would apparently take about a hundred years to reach - is over four light years away, and it isn't even certain whether it has any planets. The closest planet that is actually known is apparently ten light years away, which would then take 250 years to reach. It's obviously not impossible that we - or some future superintelligence - might manage to build a craft that survived that whole journey intact enough to continue with a colonization effort, but it doesn't seem obviously possible either.

Comment deleted 05 January 2010 06:01:41PM [-]
Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 05 January 2010 06:38:46PM 0 points [-]

Granted.

Comment author: Alicorn 04 January 2010 02:39:19PM 0 points [-]

The strongest reason that aliens might be invisible to us is that they are deliberately hiding.

Couldn't they just be really, really far away; or have a structure and value system such that their bustling activity looks like natural phenomena; or be trying like hell to get our attention but finding us kind of hard to talk to?

Comment deleted 04 January 2010 02:59:06PM [-]
Comment author: Jack 04 January 2010 03:25:09PM 2 points [-]

They'd want to capture low entropy sources of energy, and radiate away all that energy as high-entropy infra red radiation.

Could we detect Dyson spheres if they were out there?

Comment author: whpearson 04 January 2010 04:03:51PM 0 points [-]

Might we be able to see them if they went in front of galaxies or other highly luminous body?

Comment author: Jack 04 January 2010 06:01:05PM 0 points [-]

Come to think of it, wouldn't they look a lot like black holes?

Comment author: whpearson 04 January 2010 06:31:01PM 0 points [-]

Not really. The black hole might have hawking radiation it should also gravitationally lens the surroundings more than a dyson sphere.

It might also have an accretion disc.

Comment author: MatthewB 04 January 2010 04:37:53PM 0 points [-]

Or if they entered a region of dust or gas that had a temperature differential to the sphere.

If fact, I just realized that if any such structures like Ringworlds existed, they would be trivially easy to spot if they were at the right aspect to us. It would look like a star with either a band across it, or like the star had a single ring. The ring on the far side of the star would also be tremendously bright (if angled to our solar system slightly) and much easier to spot with a telescope that blocked off the light of the central star.

Just an OT thought.

Comment author: Jack 04 January 2010 06:00:54PM 0 points [-]

Stars are too bright and too far away and the ringworld too thin (at least I think there would be stability problems if they were built too wide, but I don't know enough). Worse, I thought the way we were trying to detect planets these days was by looking at the gravitational effect the planet has on the star. But wouldn't a ringworld balance out its own gravitation effect on the star?

Comment author: MatthewB 04 January 2010 08:47:04PM *  0 points [-]

The Kepler Observatory also detects planets by masking the light from the star and then looking for any bright spots (Coronal Masking).

Even more advanced telescopes will use this technique in combination with the gravity wobble. There are also diffraction and coronal masking.

http://www.iop.org/EJ/article/0004-637X/662/1/738/65461.web.pdf

http://spie.org/x24241.xml?ArticleID=x24241

why did I get down voted on that post?

Comment author: Cyan 04 January 2010 03:12:20PM 1 point [-]

you need to think about physics, engineering, thermodynamics and information processing

Like this guy did. Short short version: to get the most out of your star, you drain the energy of the emitted photons until they are (almost) at the temperature of the CMB. Infra-red is still harvestable.

Comment deleted 04 January 2010 08:06:43PM *  [-]
Comment author: Cyan 04 January 2010 08:22:19PM *  1 point [-]

I think the idea is not all the stars in a region -- it's one star per civilization. The basic idea is to maximally exploit energy transfer between the star and interstellar space, so optimal efficiency makes the artifact appear from the outside to be as close to interstellar space as possible.

Comment author: MattFisher 05 January 2010 02:35:40PM -1 points [-]

Another possibility is that they've gone through their own singularity, and no longer have a significant visible (to us) presence in physical space (or at least don't use radio waves any more), i.e. they've transcended.

Naturally we can only speculate about what new laws of physics become identifiable post-singularity, but string theory suggests there's a lot of extra dimensions around to which we don't have direct access (yet?). What if civilisations that transcend tend to find 4D spacetime too limiting and stretch out into the wider universe, like a small-town kid making it big?

It look like, if it happens for us, that it will happen within the next hundred years or so. Considering that we've only been using radio for a bit over a hundred years, that gives a roughly two hundred year window for any two pre-singularity civilisations to spot each other before one or both of them transcend. 0.4 seconds in the year of the cosmos.