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Alicorn 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 author: AngryParsley 05 January 2010 04:32:24AM 2 points [-]

I don't get the feeling that a superior intelligence is going to be so petty as to just waltz around the universe sucking up resources.

Sucking up resources? Nobody else is using them. They're just being wasted; hastening the heat death. One star will only last billions of years. All the matter in a galaxy could be organized to support a larger civilization for much, much longer.

After all, any post-Singularity Society should realize that the ultimate goal of their intelligence is to merge with the rest of the universe.

You are making a claim about a very large portion of possible minds. Also, I don't even know what you mean by "merge with the rest of the universe."

Why would that mean that they must eliminate all other intelligences along the way, rather than using those intelligences as a proxy to complete the task of total utilization of the universe's energy.

First, aliens that evolved separately wouldn't have similar values. Some of them would actually be threats if they valued paperclips above your civilization. Second, automated probes can do a much better job of organizing matter than some random apes with nukes.

My point is that we do not yet know enough to even begin speculating on possible motivations for ET, until such a time as we can sort of terrestrial motivations among our respective intelligent species.

Actually, yes, we do know enough to speculate. We notice that everywhere we look, there is no evidence of alien intelligences. The lights are on but nobody's home. So there are three possibilities:

  • Every civilization that has ever come into existence destroys itself.

  • Every civilization that has ever come into existence "transcends" in such a way to make the universe indistinguishable from ordinary stars and galaxies.

  • There aren't any other civilizations in our observable universe.

Comment author: Alicorn 05 January 2010 02:01:46PM 0 points [-]

Sucking up resources? Nobody else is using them. They're just being wasted;

I'd like to point out that even among the forms of intelligence that we have met, this is not a universally compelling argument. Consider that many people have a strong negative emotional reaction to the idea of putting garbage on the moon (assuming this could be made efficient). Now, objecting to this makes precious little sense. The moon is huge: even if we decide we want a colony there later, we're unlikely to coat its entire surface in waste and leave no room there. In fact, even putting enough trash there to be visible from Earth would take a while if we decided we wanted to avoid that for aesthetic reasons. It just weirds people out to use the moon as a landfill. Why should we expect that aliens wouldn't have analogous reasons to avoid "sucking up" resources that are doing less good by themselves?

Comment author: pdf23ds 06 January 2010 12:37:03AM 0 points [-]

It should be noted that right now humans are in a very unstable point in our evolution. Our scruples about garbage are almost certain to be eliminated if we continue to evolve under natural selection. Natural selection rewards the most efficient replicators, period.

Comment author: AdeleneDawner 06 January 2010 12:42:04AM 3 points [-]

Our scruples about garbage are almost certain to be eliminated if we continue to evolve under natural selection.

By what method? How will agreeing to do things with garbage that we currently prefer not to do help individual humans reproduce more successfully?

Comment author: AngryParsley 05 January 2010 03:57:06PM 1 point [-]

Sure, if all aliens had values like that, then maybe all of them would stay in their original solar systems. But if even one is different, it would quickly expand.