Let's talk aliens

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Let's talk aliens

Post by FallenLeaves on Sat Aug 19, 2017 8:04 pm

Possible spoilers ahead? I'm not sure whether this is really obvious to everyone and just no-one mentioned it, whether I'm just plain wrong or whether or not it's a plot point, but if you want to play it safe, I suggest not reading on.
Spoiler:

(I'd understand why no-one mentioned this in the comments, it was rather a revelatory page.)
Here Rasputin mentions a "great filter". Now, this could be something completely different, but my first thought on hearing that was of the Fermi Paradox.
For those who don't know, basically the Fermi Paradox is that there are enough planets around, and the universe has existed for long enough, that we should have seen other life by now, but we haven't. If, for example, some race in our galaxy a billion years ago had developed self-replicating interstellar robots, they should have colonised the entire galaxy by now. Thus, paradox.
One explanation is that there must be some "filters" which races must pass through to become intelligent, develop signalling or space travel, or otherwise be detectable to us. But since there should be billions of opportunities for this to happen, it seems unlikely that there could be enough minor filters, which only stop a small proportion from progressing, to stop all the races before us. This leads to the theory of a "great filter", which has stopped all or almost all races until now.
But of course, there's no reason to assume the great filter's behind us. If an alien race a hundred light years away had followed a similar technological path to us, then been wiped out about 50 years ahead of where we are, we would be very unlikely to detect them, because the window of radio signals is so small.
So these time paradoxes seem to be the great filter of this universe. It seems that every race at some point develops time travel, and creates paradoxes such that the only stable timelines are those where either the race is wiped out or, possibly, never existed.
I also think I remember the lack of aliens being mentioned as a future plot point in one of our foreign mapmaker's comments under a page, which sort of supports this, maybe?
I realise now that I've sounded very certain on much of this throughout this post. I'm not, but I am curious to hear your thoughts.
A much better explanation of the Fermi Paradox than I gave

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Re: Let's talk aliens

Post by CONNECT 1200 on Sun Mar 04, 2018 11:58 am

As long as we're talking radio, it's an easy one. Nobody would use a single-freq high-amp omnidirectional radio signal for interstellar communications. It's just an error-prone waste of energy and frequency ranges. Even a stupid Wi-Fi chip knows better.

I strongly doubt anyone would use EM waves at all. They are too slow compared to the distances Out There. Moon is half a light second away, and it's already a bother. The second nearest star is about 3 light years away. No conversation would survive a six year delay between a question and an answer.

Now, you'd probably think that scientific data might still be relevant after all these years. Highly unlikely. Right now, a primitive civilization of half-intelligent apes still clinging to their only planet boasts doubling its knowledge once in 12 months. By the time they evolve into, or create, a truly intelligent breed able to get the hell off this rock, it would probably be happening within milliseconds. Granted, some questions would still stay unanswered for much longer, but chances are they would still be answered long before a material body reaches some really far away point in spacetime and its signal comes back home.

Finally, if there is a possibility of faster than light communication, that's what everybody's going to use instead.

And, of course, letting Everybody Out There know your exact position is hardly a good idea, and nobody's going to sit on planets orbiting stars for any longer than they absolutely have to. Competitors annoy, often with consequences. Planets suck. We're looking for the wrong things in the wrong places.

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Re: Let's talk aliens

Post by FallenLeaves on Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:31 am

Now we're going into my own personal opinions on the Fermi Paradox, but I think you may well be thinking too small. If we assume a "large" number of independent civilisations have at some point arisen in our galaxy (we'll stick to galaxy for now), then the question becomes: why hasn't the galaxy obviously been strip-mined for some form of resource by von Neumann machines yet?
Here I'm imagining specifically machines which can be sent off to a solar system, collect accessible resources, replicate themselves a few times using collected resources, send some copies off to new solar systems and send a proportion of resources collected back to the home system.
Given that we haven't yet invented any von Neumann machines, it's a bit tricky to know the required investment in start-up materials. But if we assume 100 years' travel to the nearest solar system, combined with some mass-drivery way to get resources back home at even relatively low speeds, you could be looking at incredibly high returns on investment within a couple of centuries. Assuming that within a few centuries we still have a capitalist, non-post-scarcity society in a few centuries (a big if, I know) and there have been no advances allowing proper interstellar colonisation (in which case the Fermi paradox recurs in its normal form), then I would honestly expect us to do this.
And given that under these assumptions it doesn't seem unlikely (to me, anyway) that we will do this, given a reasonably large number of civilisations I would think it would be almost certain. That is of course if there isn't some organisation of species which has decided strip-mining everything might just be a bad idea, which is I would say one of the most likely scenarios which wouldn't lead to this.
And once there are self-replicating machines spreading across the galaxy and sending anything valuable home, I'd expect us to see some evidence.

Obviously I'm making a hell of a lot of assumptions here, so anyone is of course quite entitled to disagree with me, but still.

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Re: Let's talk aliens

Post by CONNECT 1200 on Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:46 am

Uh, but what's "valuable" to folks who can send their mining machinery to other stars and get the stuff back? I'll be damned if any human knows for sure. Maybe we already see a Galaxy lacking something that should be there. Maybe we'll need it too when the time comes. Maybe not. We've seen life on this planet evolve to make do without resources destroyed by previous generations, or adapt to poisons produced by other organisms to the point of urgently needing them, be it oxygen or caffeine. We've seen human cultures switch from bronze to steel when easy to obtain tin was consumed, from blubber to kerosene when whales became a rarity. Surely, the same must be happening on a larger scale, too. If something's lacking, an obvious solution is to switch to a technology that needs other materials that are plenty at the moment. Which may lead to a Galaxy evenly strip-mined of everything in turns, so there is no single obvious lack for us to notice at all.

As for colonisation... I don't think it makes sense. If you have a space transportation technology good enough to get you to a planet hundreds light years away, you have a space transportation technology good enough to stay away from both stars and planets forever. Why bother terraforming a piece of rock orbiting an uncontrolled thermonuclear explosion if you already have a highly autonomous artificial biosphere to thrive in?

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Re: Let's talk aliens

Post by FallenLeaves on Mon Mar 05, 2018 3:01 pm

Fair. But while I'm always happy to talk about the Fermi Paradox, I still have absolutely no idea what anyone thinks of the relevant part of my post.

[EDIT:
And because I apparently cannot let anything lie, I think that the fundamental difference of opinion is that we're thinking on different scales. My reasoning has mostly been along the lines of "It seems likely that this thing has a let's say low-double-digit percentage chance of happening in such a way that it would be really obvious to us. Therefore, since it apparently hasn't happened in that obvious way, we've moved from no other intelligent species to no more than probably around 20 other species before this state of affairs becomes vanishingly unlikely, so we've not really made any progress."]

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Re: Let's talk aliens

Post by CONNECT 1200 on Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:13 am

The possibilities are too many. What do we know about time? Pretty much nothing, except for the obvious fact that time travel ability is highly independent from spelling skills. Then again, all you need to move in time is a special talent easily unlocked by a few exercises. Chances are that it's not a trait specific to humans, and time travellers would appear among any time conscious species long before they are able to build their interstellar machinery.

As you might have noticed, right now I'm thinking about the scenario where a race, having mastered time tricks, creates its own separate spacetime, one perfectly suited for its specific needs, and thus completely removes itself from its original universe.

Which, in turn, may well make humans just a bunch of pests in somebody's paradise garden, and Gaia a pest control team. We don't see anyone tinkering with our universe because it was built to somebody's specifications from ground up.

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Re: Let's talk aliens

Post by CONNECT 1200 on Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:16 pm

On a second thought, time travelling ability, especially until trained and tamed, may actually disrupt spelling skills. At least in part, spelling is about pressing the right button at the right time, isn't it? If you involuntarily wobble on your timeline a little, you may easily get the very sort of typos our friend Luke Timewalker is famous for.

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Re: Let's talk aliens

Post by FallenLeaves on Sun Mar 18, 2018 5:17 am

Definite spoilers. What follows is from one of the pages behind an authcode gate:
Spoiler:
"While celestial bodies beyond Sol would theoretically remain unaffected, this does not seem to be a sufficient difference to prevent culled timelines merging into a "graveyard" timeline, consisting of nothing but an empty cosmos and an ever-expanding true vacuum. The effectiveness of this protocol is taken to indicate the nonexistence of extraterrestrial life, or at least intelligence."
This is from:
Authcode page:
Gaia (EDIT: Apocalypse. I have no idea why I said Gaia. Thanks, Arbiter)
Which has code
Authcode:
The-Center-Cannot-Hold
Give me a moment to work out the implications of this.


Last edited by FallenLeaves on Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:18 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Let's talk aliens

Post by Xenocartographer on Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:30 am

Authcode gate aside, you're collectively onto some interesting, and relevant, ideas. And I snerked hard at "Luke Timewalker".

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Re: Let's talk aliens

Post by Arbiter on Sun Mar 18, 2018 11:06 pm

About That Authcode Gate:
That quote isn't from the Gaia article, it's from the Apocalypse article. I thought maybe that was an intentional mislead, but there are only a handful of articles anyway so if someone tried to get the code and it failed on the Gaia article, they'd probably just try it on the others until they got the right one anyway.

Also, I'd just briefly like to complain about how Americans spell that goddamn word, which provided me with a much larger obstacle than the actual authcode riddle did. "Fuck you, Britain, you can't tell me what to do! I'm gonna put the E first, and then dump a bunch of tea in the ocean or something!"

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Re: Let's talk aliens

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