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Australian Green Party leader Bob Brown talks about global democracy, X-risk, and immortality

16 Broggly 30 March 2012 12:18AM

It's interesting to see someone with actual political power (with balance of power in the Senate and being part of the Lower House coalition) talking about the Great Filter.

However, recent astronomy tells us that there are trillions of other planets circling Sunlike stars in the immensity of the Universe, millions of them friendly to life. So why has no one from elsewhere in the Cosmos contacted us?

Surely some people-like animals have evolved elsewhere. Surely we are not, in this crowded reality of countless other similar planets, the only thinking beings to have turned up. Most unlikely! So why isn't life out there contacting us? Why aren't the intergalactic phones ringing?

Here is one sobering possibility for our isolation: maybe life has often evolved to intelligence on other planets with biospheres and every time that intelligence, when it became able to alter its environment, did so with catastrophic consequences. Maybe we have had many predecessors in the Cosmos but all have brought about their own downfall.

That's why they are not communicating with Earth. They have extincted themselves. They have come and gone. And now it's our turn.

An Earth parliament for all. But what would be its commission? Here are four goals:





... Eternity is for as long as we could be. It means beyond our own experience. It also means 'forever', if there is no inevitable end to life. Let's take the idea of eternity and make it our own business.

...The pursuit of eternity is no longer the prerogative of the gods: it is the business of us all, here and now.


Comment author: Broggly 20 November 2011 07:02:37AM 3 points [-]

According to Peter Watt's blog toxoplasmosis doesn't actually reduce fear in rats, but instead causes the odor of cat urine to activate sexual arousal pathways as well as fear pathways. The overall effect causes them to approach the smell of cat urine.

Comment author: Kenny_Easwaran 23 April 2008 08:12:40PM -1 points [-]

"human eyes function the same way that camera lenses do, and that you make an image of a thing every time you look at it."

Cameras make a visible image of something. Eyes don't.

Comment author: Broggly 22 October 2011 02:49:15PM 3 points [-]

I'd think they do. Surely in principle someone could see the image of whatever you're looking at reflected off the retina from the inside of your eye. It's only not visible in the sense that nobody's inside your eyeball and the image is probably very dim.

In response to Universal Law
Comment author: AndyCossyleon 08 November 2010 09:09:49PM 3 points [-]

Only 80%? I hope you've brushed up on your physics in the past three years.

The speed of light isn't some arbitrary speed limit. The speed of light is the speed of masslessness. Everything without mass (prime example: photons), must travel at that speed. Further, anything traveling at that speed does not witness the passage of time, experiencing the entirety of its trajectory at once.

Stated even better, everything travels at the speed of light; it is merely that massive particles divert most of that velocity into traveling through time. There is an intimate connection between spacetime and mass; note that no amount of electric charge bends spacetime.

The speed of light barrier exists absolutely with a probability easily exceeding 99%.

Comment author: Broggly 07 June 2011 05:01:02AM 3 points [-]

Hey, go easy on him. For a brief moment of insanity I considered the probability of anti-gravity being discovered greater than a LW poster thinking the law of gravity was s=4.9t^2

In response to Universal Law
Comment author: billswift 29 April 2007 10:26:25PM 5 points [-]

"The law of gravity holds precisely only in a perfect vacuum."

This is another case of confusing the law with the scientific model of it, the equations. The law holds precisely, everywhere, the equations describing it are too difficult to solve except in the simplest cases.

In response to comment by billswift on Universal Law
Comment author: Broggly 07 June 2011 04:58:03AM 0 points [-]

I was totally shocked when I read that, thinking that there'd been some discovery that anti-gravity had been discovered, and matter is in fact made up of (net positively charged) gravitational dipoles.

Comment author: MinibearRex 30 May 2011 05:23:24PM 7 points [-]
  1. The whole idea of public key cryptography. Take a message, put it through a certain algorithm, but the algorithm doesn't work in reverse.

  2. Rockets in space. A flying vehicle that seems to move forwards by pushing on nothing.

  3. The absolute speed limit of special relativity. Not quite technology, but the experiments could be described.

Comment author: Broggly 07 June 2011 03:59:24AM 0 points [-]

Algorithms that are hard to reverse is pretty simple to understand. Every Schoolboy Knows that division is "harder" than multiplication, and I'm still not entirely sure how to find roots in my head.

In response to comment by Laoch on Remaining human
Comment author: wedrifid 01 June 2011 12:55:04PM *  2 points [-]

The exciting thing about snowboarding isn't the challenge it's being able to do air time with little effort or at least I think so.

The appeal to me is based on engineering intuitions. Skis, seriously? Hook up a great big lever to apply torque to a single joint that is not intended to twist that way at all? Something seems wrong when I do that.

In response to comment by wedrifid on Remaining human
Comment author: Broggly 07 June 2011 03:43:14AM 3 points [-]

I'm not sure, but I think skis were designed for moving across mountainous terrain. I find the whole idea of "cross country snowboard" somewhat absurd, but have seen alpine troops chasing each other down on skis in WW2 documentaries.

In response to comment by Alicorn on Remaining human
Comment author: Prismattic 01 June 2011 03:39:53AM 7 points [-]

The overwhelming majority of humans do, in fact, want to be human, much to the annoyance of the transhumanist minority.

Putting that aside, though, I see what I think is a different problem, though perhaps I'm overgeneralizing from my own motivations. Human endeavors tend to feel worthwhile because they are a challenge. Assuming that we do develop the ability to self-modify, recursively improving our physical and mental abilities, I worry that things will seem better and better -- until suddenly they seem worse. When anyone can be as strong or as fast as they want, there will be no such thing as athletics or martial arts. When anyone can be as smart as they want, there will be no such thing as puzzles or games. Etc. When all the hard questions have been answered, what will be left, except wireheading?

In response to comment by Prismattic on Remaining human
Comment author: Broggly 07 June 2011 03:40:06AM 1 point [-]

I still see martial arts and athletics existing, extrapolation from our present situation. Ignoring artificial handicaps and rules, these could well end up being status symbols (depending on the economic system) with people who have the resources to be able to juggle planets being seethingly envious of those rich bastards who can afford bodies and cerebrums strong enough to juggle stars.

In response to comment by [deleted] on Remaining human
Comment author: tel 31 May 2011 07:51:33PM *  2 points [-]

That's close, but the object of concern isn't religious artwork but instead states of mind that are highly irrational but still compelling. Many (most?) people do a great deal of reasoning with their emotions, but rationality (justifiably) demonizes it.

Can you truly say you can communicate well with someone who is contemplating suicide and eternal damnation versus the guilt of killing the man responsible for the death of your significant other? It's probably a situation that a rationalist would avoid and definitely a state of mind far different from one a rationalist would take.

So how do you communicate with a person who empathizes with it and relates those conundrums to personal tragedies? I feel rather incapable of communicating with a deeply religious person because we simply appreciate (rightfully or wrongfully) completely different aspects of the things we talk about. Even when we agree on something actionable, our conceptions of that action are non-overlapping. (As a disclaimer, I lost contact with a significant other in this way. It's painful, and motivating of some of the thoughts here, but I don't think it's influencing my judgement such that it's much different than my beliefs before her.)

In particular, the entire situation is not so different from Eliezer's Three Worlds Collide narrative if you want to tie it to LW canon material. Value systems can in part define admissible methods of cognition and that can manifest itself as inability to communicate.

What were the solutions suggested? Annihilation, utility function smoothing, rebellion and excommunication?

In response to comment by tel on Remaining human
Comment author: Broggly 07 June 2011 03:34:24AM 0 points [-]

Tosca sounds like it has some strange theology. Surely most people who believe in Hell also believe in Absolution?

In response to The 5-Second Level
Comment author: Broggly 11 May 2011 10:58:06AM 2 points [-]

The first fictional example I thought of was the Wax Lips scene from The Simpsons. "Try our wax lips: the candy of 1000 uses!" "Like what?" "One, a humourous substitute for your own lips." "Keep going..." "Two, err...oh, I'm needed in the basement!"

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