We’re in the light cones of all the stars we can see, and as far as we know, we can’t get out of them. If a civilization ended even 100 years earlier than our equivalent “now” in their light cone, we wouldn’t have seen them. And if they became visible even 1 year later than our equivalent “now,” we would not have seen them yet.
We’re proceeding through time at 1 sec per sec and basically if we’re going to see an alien civilization at this point, I think the only way would be if one happens to achieve the necessary technology to be detected while we’re looking at it. If there were existing civilizations that were easy to see, we would have seen them already.
I think it’s far more likely we will confirm alien life first by indirect means, for example spectroscopically detecting free atmospheric oxygen on an exoplanet, or finding tiny fossils on Mars.
you know what really alarms me? these things are only chances on a very, very short-time scale. they are inevitable, yet no one seems alarmed when meteors come between us and the moon and we dont see it coming until hours beforehand.
sun bursts blowing out the electric grid, nuclear war, antiobotic resistance, crop and animal monoculture, climate change, natural resource depletion... taleb is right. we need an agent of chaos to make anti-fragility valuable. otherwise we learn the lesson the hard way. by dying.
On balance, I think we could spend more, but I also think diminishing returns is very real. Giving the wright brothers 100,000 workers to build copies of their planes would not have gotten us to the space shuttle much faster. Ironically, it could have slowed us down because of sunk cost fallacies.
I think your view is skewed. Every single person I've talked to about this as looked at me like they are bored. Of course, here on HN, I've found many like-minded people. That's great, but I think very few humans, especially humans in the power structures that run this planet, care about this issue.
We're slowly getting comfortable enough about our immediate situation, leaving room to start thinking on a bigger scale. But I think it takes actual effort to say: "ok brain, I understand our immediate situation is important but I think we've got that covered enough to allow us to start caring about the less immediate problems we might face"
I'm a glass half full guy so maybe it's naive but I think we're actually doing pretty well. Climate change sucks and we're pretty slow to respond but you wouldn't expect a hunter/gatherer to be able to see the importance of fighting it. Our situation is different but the brain isn't all that different when it comes to prioritizing things to spend time/energy on. Obesity is a good example of what happens when you combine ancient instincts with modern situations.
Same thing probably goes for racism. We're advanced enough to know better and responsible for our actions but we're dealing with a brain has evolved mostly during times where trusting other tribes and survival of the fittest were Incompatible. Xenophobia had some evolutionary benefit and now we have to deal with it's existence in a vastly different situation.
Like I said, people should know better and have to be held responsible for their actions and we should never be comfortable with the slow rate of change.
Still I like to remind myself every now and then that its amazing how much progress has already been made changing things that evolution hasn't had time to value yet.
This turned out way longer than I expected but it's something I think about a lot. Hope you don't mind me using your comment to finally put some thoughts into words.
I suspect it's more that we have different definitions of how widely a feeling of alarm should spread before saying this. I agree the absolute number of people who are worried about the problem is small.
I guess I think about it in terms of "what proportion of the population that would be directly involved in solving this problem"? I would suspect that is close to 100%. Anyone involved in space work is aware that we may we wiped out and would not like that to happen. Government leaders are also, I think, aware, but unconvinced that more resource expenditure would be meaningfully helpful. Given how difficult it's been to convince people to deal with a much cheaper & easier problem that is much more obvious and immediate (global climate change) I have trouble critiquing people for being insufficiently zealous about this issue.
To e40's point, sadly, when Anand asked the audience how many would be willing to commit to getting involved in the then upcoming election, it was a small minority despite generous applause at other points in his talk about effecting societal change. And this was for local changes in taxation if I recall correctly. I'm guessing they were mostly "old" and have their life's effort to lose in the latter halves of their expected lives.
This is where technical solutions seeking wide societal traction need a helping hand from that other side of our brains that relate to stories, myths, meaning, and purpose.
That is why Elon is so hell bent on making humanity multi planetary.
> These are the missing practical arguments: safeguarding the Earth from otherwise inevitable catastrophic impacts and hedging our bets on the many other threats, known and unknown, to the environment that sustains us. Without these arguments, a compelling case for sending humans to Mars and elsewhere might be lacking. But with them—and the buttressing arguments involving science, education, perspective, and hope—I think a strong case can be made. If our long-term survival is at stake, we have a basic responsibility to our species venture to other worlds.
Besides, anything at all that we can imagine hitting the earth (except a gamma ray burst or collision with another planet) would still leave the earth in a better shape than Mars is. It's entirely doubtful that humanity could be self-sustaining on Mars even in principle, it is certainly not possible with known technologies.
What's the blocker here?
Energy production on Mars? Why not Solar or Simple Stirling Engines.
Food/Closed ecological systems? Hard, for sure yeah, but even not particularly well funded small ecosystems like Biosphere2 worked for several years.
The biggest issue seems psychological.
But the more you scale to reach the required resources, the more of those resources you will need - especially when you'll more or less have to tunnel your way everywhere if you don't want everyone to die of cancer in their thirties.
And one of the biggest potential limiters is water: we don't actually know how much water there is on Mars. The reserves we know for sure exist at the poles are somewhat small, and it's hard to say how much of Mars' ancestral oceans froze and how much were boiled away and carried off into space along with the rest of its atmosphere. All of the water is frozen (very hard to extract) and likely full of corrosive salts (very hard to separate). Water used in industrial processes is going to be very hard to recapture, and water that evaporates is likely to be lost forever to space (slowly but surely).
You'll also need massive ecosystems to sustain an industrial chain with 0 access to fossil fuels, since you'll need to be able to produce bioplastics and biofuels in addition to food. Again, you'll consume huge quantities of water to achieve this.
Finally, energy production will be extremely difficult, as solar panels are extremely inefficient, efficient forms of solar require boiling water compounding your water problems (and so does nuclear), and both wind and solar of any kind will have massive dust problems, probably insurmountable with today's technology.
>For a self sustaining colony on Mars you need to span a huge part of the Martian globe to get access to enough raw materials to build things like the microprocessors required for basic life sustaining devices.
I don't see any reason that microprocessors are required for basic life sustaining devices. They are certainly convenient and valuable. Even if there were required, a simple microchip fab is a known technology. Expensive but does not require new technology.
An interesting question here is how big such a colony needs to be to be self-sustaining.We have clear answers because our present complex Terran economy assumes a planet wide network of trading industrial economies. Perhaps other, smaller solutions exist but we haven't bothered exploring them here because there is no market for it on Earth. Then again I suspect that as long as Earth has an industrial space faring civilization, there will be continuous trade between Earth and Mars. We might not be able to determine how self-sufficient Mars ever is because trade between Earth and Mars may never be shut off.
>And one of the biggest potential limiters is water: we don't actually know how much water there is on Mars.
I agree with you here and it is important point. If it turns out that extracting useable water on Mars is exceptionally difficult, a self-sustaining Mars colony is much harder to create. However we don't really know how true this is. This degree of uncertainly does not support the statement given earlier that "it is certainly not possible with known technologies."
>You'll also need massive ecosystems to sustain an industrial chain with 0 access to fossil fuels, since you'll need to be able to produce bioplastics and biofuels in addition to food. Again, you'll consume huge quantities of water to achieve this.
Yep, strong agree this is why most of these architectures assume large quantities of usable water. I wonder when we get the answer to this question?
>But the more you scale to reach the required resources, the more of those resources you will need - especially when you'll more or less have to tunnel your way everywhere if you don't want everyone to die of cancer in their thirties.
You tunnel for living spaces, you tunnel for resources, a self-sustaining Mars colony will likely require a sufficient investment to get going. Part of that investment will be in energy used for tunneling. Light weight nuclear batteries and generators. Bootstrapping a self-sustaining Martian colony would be extremely difficult but taking a dependent colony and growing it to a self-sustaining system seems easier.
Probably the longer Earth sustains it, the cheaper it will be to become fully self-sustaining.
>Finally, energy production will be extremely difficult, as solar panels are extremely inefficient, efficient forms of solar require boiling water compounding your water problems (and so does nuclear), and both wind and solar of any kind will have massive dust problems, probably insurmountable with today's technology.
I don't know the science but I would assume wind is out because of the thin atmosphere. Solar might be inefficient but how much electricity do you need? I suspect you want to build farms and living spaces that can survive at least a few days to a few weeks without electricity. Low electricity usage and dependency is probably a critical component of robust martian colony architectures.
You can run nuclear on things other than water. US and Soviet Submarines use liquid metal cooled reactors . Why not run underground breeder reactors on Mars, if something goes wrong collapse 5km of soil on them?
While I think fusion is going to play a big role on Earth, I suspect it won't be well used on Mars for a while due to its inherent complexity and dependence on rare materials.
Human nature, apparently. Just about all large-scale human activities at the moment are predicated on exponential growth. We're nowhere near achieving a long-term stable steady-state here on earth. The odds of achieving that in a vastly more hostile environment are even lower.
And even people with important jobs, they would work maybe 50-60 hours a week, but consume resources 24/7.
On average, the value all humans produce in a week might not be enough to keep them all alive for a week.
To me the likely blocker is reliability/accident.
Most places where humans are on Earth, if one piece of equipment fails (say the engines fall off of your passenger plane while you're over the ocean), you survive and carry on for at least days. In space or on Mars, you're dead in minutes.
We've only been here for a few minutes. We aren't really making any efforts to save the planet or colonize space. It's totally possible that we will wipe ourselves out before our TV and radio signals ever make it far enough to be detected by aliens, even if there are a ton of them out there.
This theory is incredibly type-zero-civ-pocentric. A species capable of interstellar travel will have mastered technologies we can't even comprehend. By the time humanity is able to meaningfully reach across the stars, we'll have spread life across our entire solar system and everything we'd ever need. Unlimited energy from our sun, a lush and verdant Venus and Mars, mining colonies across the solar system producing vast quantities of any desirable element, not to mention an Earth whose biosphere is a shining jewel - perpetually locked-in at peak biodiversity.
Begs the question of what we would ever need from another civ, and furthermore what a similar civilization would ever want from a bunch of squatting troglodytes such as ourselves.
The need to fight loneliness and to find a kindred spirit?
Our television and radio broadcasts aren't detectable by an Arecibo-class telescope out much past Jupiter let alone outside the solar system. Even our high powered radar systems wouldn't be detectable out even half a light year from the solar system.
The only civilizations that can be detected with a SETI-like program would be ones intentionally transmitting directional signals. Even then out past a thousand light years even a multi-terawatt (EIRP) signal would be difficult to detect.
Like inverse square law is as unforgiving as the rocket equation. Anyone hand-waving either of those principals is not trying to have a meaningful discussion about interstellar communication or travel, they're just writing about science fiction.
Not necessarily. Gravitational lensing may enable directed communication at much lower power levels : https://storkpaulo.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/gravitational-le...
Say we had an SGL telescope positioned such to image an Earth-sized planet we know is in orbit of Alpha Centauri A. For ease of math we'll say this Earth sized planet is at a distance such the solar constant is the same as Earth. So that's a total power received from the Sun of 1.74x10^17 watts and with the Earth's mean albedo of 0.3 about 5.22x10^16 watts being reflected off into space.
We can use our SGL to image the planet around Alpha Centauri because it's reflecting 52.2 petawatts of sunlight out into space. So it takes the power of a star reflecting off a disc with a cross sectional area of 1.26x10^8 square kilometers for a proposed SGL system to detect and image a planet.
The amount of power an omnidirectional antenna can possibly emit is somewhat less than 52 petawatts. Broadcast antennas output at most a few megawatts EIRP because there's no utility in blasting out hundreds of megawatts for terrestrial transmission. Such broadcasts just aren't going to be detectable even with gravitational lensing from our Centauran neighbors.
Nor are gravitational lenses terribly useful for beacons since you need the right geometry between the sender, star, and receiver to use the lens. You could use lensing to increase the EIRP of your transmission but only at a specific target. Nobody outside the focal plane of the lensing system is going to benefit from the lens.
SGLs are a neat idea and an interesting topic but I don't think they solve many SETI problems.
You look at human civilization and that's exactly what's happened. We started off by broadcasting everything as loud as we could (which isn't very loud) and we've slowly transitioned to signals that are both quieter and don't really survive escaping the atmosphere.
I can't imagine an advanced species wouldn't follow a similar communications path. The only way we detect them is if they specifically target our spot in the sky with focused EM for a very long time, generations! After all, they have no clue when we would be in our evolutionary path.
And for that to happen, the species would have to first find us. Not just find us, find us while we are still listening.
And this is all with the assumption that FTL communication/observation is even a possibility (It likely isn't).
IMO, the simplest answer is that FTL communication and travel is impossible. Advanced civilizations across the galaxy have all come to the same conclusion.
We might be able to explore our own neighboring stars throughout generations but it's unlikely we'll be able to ever send a message to another civilization that will get there while they are listening (without spending huge amounts of power).
After a long while, there might be this great replacement, totally peaceful, that would lead these conscious organisms with a vastly superior intellectual efficiency to probably become very small and self centered and not behave like the territorial monkeys we are. What do you think a massively singular electronic intelligence will think when it notices a planet like ours ? "nuke them all and rape their women" ? This is monkey behavior that we still haven't fully shaken up.
If we imagine that in the last 5 billion years, there have been a good solid 10,000 post-industrial civilizations, and each of those civilizations has lasted 10,000 years (in the post-industrial stage where they're detectable), then that implies that of the last 5,000,000,000 years, 100,000,000 of them have been host to a post-industrial civilization: a given year has on average 0.02 currently present civilizations in it.
Now, this hypothesis does probably imply that significantly interstellar civilizations are impossible, since it seems like if you've colonized say 20 stars, what disaster could possibly end your civilization?
(I think the most likely scenario is that we're the only civilization ever to have developed in the Milky Way. Everything else seems like it assumes a lot of additional stuff.)
Unfortunately, war with another civilization.
Like if on Earth nukes were something everyone could cook up in their backyard in an afternoon, we'd all be gone pretty quick.
Not sure that really makes any sense though.
The Killing Star and Flying to Valhalla by Charles Pellegrino are based around the idea that it's natural for a species to annihilate all other sentient species. The characters define three rules that an alien species may be operating by.
Rule 1. Aliens will believe their survival is more important than our survival.
Rule 2. Wimps don't become top dogs.
Rule 3. Aliens will assume that the first two rules apply to us as well.
In the book that the OP article is based on, humanity is doing anything and everything to prevent/defend themselves against an alien invasion happening ~400 years in the future. The character who coins "Dark Forest" theory in the book proposes sending a 'spell' (just a signal containing coordinates) to a nearby star, which is then amplified throughout the universe via "Sci-Fi science". This reveals the location of the star, and shortly after the star is destroyed by some comet-sized object moving at the speed of light. It's later revealed that some other civilization listens for broadcasts on every spectrum, decodes them for coordinates, then destroys the ones that seem to have actually been sent by intelligent life.
I thought this made perfect sense - why wouldn't another intelligent species do this if they possess the technology? I personally agree with "Dark Forest" theory and think that we should /never/ make first contact (lest we are destroyed), but if we were to attempt first contact, we should at the very least have a weapon like you described available to us first.
I think the only question we can ask here is "Would we do this if we possessed the technology?". We only have ourselves as an example of intelligent life.
Society probably only functions below a certain level of technological advancement before everybody dies to an onslaught of engineered diseases.
If we can control resource, exchange knowledge and techniques, and reproduce automatically (for instance if we become small electronic machines rather than the current inefficient chemical process we are), "war" might probably sounds both ridiculous and totally ineffective, both to cull us if we're abstract enough, and to cull potential enemies, probably just as impossible to reach "physically".
Perhaps we can shake off many emotional components of war (which would make war an irrational option in many of the cases that our monkey brain would have been dragged into) but that doesn't necessarily mean that war itself would be eradicated
Also, multi-species symbiotic relationships are quite common in the animal kingdom. It would be surprising if that weren't true at other scales (and if it were limited to the sci-fi trope of "worker species, soldier species, leader species").
Selective pressures that permit the emergence of cooperative behaviour require participating individuals to exhibit a variation in behaviour and those who cooperate result in having a higher fitness in the environment than those who shun cooperation.
The selection effect operates on over the whole population and over times that are longer than the life span of an individual.
An individual that is implementing what ultimately will emerge as the winning strategy, may on average be better off, but it can (and it will) be also often worse off.
Depending whose existence you're optimizing for (individual or species) changes the framing of what is the optimal strategy.
An existential risk for a species changes the framing of what is rational to do quite a lot.
This is the sticking point for me.
The rocket equation, energy being quadratic with velocity, and the impossibility of perfect efficiency (and, possibly, limits on material properties) constrain speeds.
That means it takes a long time to get between stars. A long time.
Which means if you venture between stars successfully, you're adapted for life in interstellar space. If that's the case, why would you go down the gravity well? There are lots of asteroids and comets to use in Oort clouds and between stars, and those down-well enviroments are hostile.
Climate change will make parts of the world inhabitable that are currently populated by humans. It will also result in crop failures, which will cause famines. In some cases formerly native crops will no longer be supported by the changing local climate or farmland may become completely unusable. Potable water will become harder to source. Water contamination is a source of many deadly diseases.
Even if we assume most of the deaths will be concentrated in places like Africa or the Indian subcontinent, the global economy relies on these places for resources and cheap labor. People in ongoing climate catastrophes also don't tend to stay put and die in an orderly fashion, they become refugees or riot against their governments. Things can get politically messy even in the nations next door as humans tend to be uncomfortable with political chaos and mass deaths.
But unlike the Spanish flu, or the potato famine, or COVID, climate change is not a temporary blip that happens and then goes away. If all the carriers of the plague have died, nobody dies from the plague unless they get infected handling the dead. Famines can starve millions to death but once there's another harvest the survivors have food again. Climate change isn't like that. If climate change creates a drought, that's not just a drought, that's now dry season and it will be dry season every year from now.
There are currently 7.8 billion humans. There's absolutely no reason to believe climate change can't kill billions, especially once it's managed to kill the first hundreds of millions.
Keep in mind that it's not about "addressing" climate change. It's not a moldy bathroom tile that you need to clean up or replace before the mold spreads everywhere. It's a fire our entire way of life is fueling every single day. We know what needs to be done to slow it down to survivable levels (or at least levels that are lethal for less than 1% of us) but we can't just pass legislation or appeal to personal responsibility to do that because it involves changes that would be economical suicide for anyone doing it alone. The world economy is playing a game of chicken with each other and nobody is bluffing.
Additionally, the entire worlds population at relatively sparse city density (say, Houston) can fit in like 1/3 of the United States.
That isn’t to say that climate change isn’t a big deal. It is one of the biggest deals and quite grave. But you don’t really propose any solutions. What you allude to though won’t happen, that everyone works together to address the issues. My speculation is that if our technology doesn’t progress fast enough, billions will die, but if tech does happen to progress fast enough then that will be mitigated.
That isn’t to say that the world couldn’t use a strong reduction in population. But given that we are causing this, I feel particularly bad for the wildlife whose habitats will be unlivable to them through no fault of their own and not through natural processes.
Do you mean they are guaranteed to discover another “realm” and move to it?
Why? It might not be possible, no matter how much physics one knows. Or do you take the Fermi paradox itself as a proof of the solution?
We may not talk to them simply because it's both incredibly expensive and will yield nothing more than "Yup, we're stuck here, so are you".
AFA we know we've been insanely lucky up to this point (as earthling life we went past multiple mass extinctions, we got multi-cellular life, multiple brains iterations, a society which still didn't wipe itself out etc)
What makes it more likely for the filter to be ahead of us rather than behind us?
Few people expect to die at any specific day, they just know they will die at some point because mortality is a given.
If we can't make the complete transition to renewables in the next thirty years, it's game over for a VERY long time. Future civilizations won't enjoy the benefit of Spindletop. Cheap energy sources won't be available near the surface of the crust for another > 50 million years.
We won't go extinct, but it will be the 18th century for a very long time and nobody will leave this rock during that time.
The Great Filter is right here, in front of us, in our lifetimes.
Wrong. We already have one: nuclear energy.
Looking forward to the fleet of electric concrete trucks carrying electrically-manufactured concrete loaded with batteries that were produced with lithium carbonate dug out of the ground by electric excavation rigs.
All of this construction work will also not be disrupted by any social unrest resulting from 3 billion people starving to death because the Haber process no longer has enough cheap feedstock to sustain modern agricultural processes.
Thanks for educating me.
It seems far more questionable to assume we won't risk extinction in the geological near term. The parent is downvoted more out of existential fear rather than an honest assessment of the situation.
As for us, I don't doubt the likelihood of a serious mass extinction, including possibly a severe drop in human population, but I can't see it being so severe as to cause an existential threat to us. No other species on this planet has had the ability to change the environment to suit it, or the ease of mobility to move where they can survive. Short of earth being entirely incompatible with complex life on the surface, I don't see humanity disappearing because of climate change.
Does seem likely that on an extremely long time scale, we need to get multi-planetary, which is "realistic" if we give a reasonable time frame of, say, 10,000 years.
As far as the sun dying, that's beyond even parent point's timeline. This is very things start to get questionable if we never get to even .1 of c (e.g. Project Orion "realistic" estimates). Alpha Centauri is relative close at 4.something ly, but other "potentially habitable/useful" star systems are way out there.
This is a strange claim I see repeated over and over, but it has very little evidence to justify it. The only piece of evidence people present is:
> people had colonized the whole planet, except for Antarctica
This is true of a fairly large number of organisms on Earth.
On top of this humans have only been around for ~200,000 years, that's not long at all. Humans have not survived a single mass extinction event.
So far we've seen humans travel around a planet that has been relatively stable for that period of time. There have been plenty of species that have traveled around with us that didn't even need to rely on extra tools, clothing or the use of energy to survive.
Humans share several vulnerabilities with other megafauna that have all gone extinct. A major one is a fairly long gestation, plus small number of offspring per generation. Human young likewise need tremendous amounts of care and energy to raise to mature adulthood. Additionally human have fairly high energy requirements to support their complex brains.
We've seen exponential rise in human population only because humans have had access to excessive amount of non-renewable, high-energy density sources of energy.
It just happens that humans have lived on a planet that has mostly been within survivable temperature changes, with historic climate changes happening on time scales that lead to easy migration. As you pointed out, the one continent that does not have an environment that supports human life remains empty.
Humans can't survive a wet bulb temperature of 35C. Until just recently we never saw that temperature on this planet. As we see more and more places reach that temperature more often, I suspect we'll see how frail human adaptability is.
That is because we possess multiple different ways of adapting to our enviroment:
culture and technology
This link provides a nice summary:
Is it though? How many other large, multicellular, organisms live on every continent without humans having brought them there?
That's because we have had ready access to insanely abundant high-energy density source of energy.
The non-fossil fuel supported carrying capacity of the planet for humans is estimated to be somewhere around 1 billion people. When the fuel runs out (if we don't cook ourselves first), that will collapse.
It is nothing intrinsic about humans that have lead to our recent success, just access to lots of nearly free energy.
edit: why the downvotes? Is there even anything controversial in these statements? HN's fear of bad news is getting out of hand.
I also strongly believe that we could cover all our energy needs with renewable sources within a few decades if we really wanted to (even assuming no significant advances in tech), and this seems mostly non-disputed to me (because that is literally what nation-states are currently planning/doing).
> Is there even anything controversial in these statements?
Yes. Your statements seem not credible to me and you cite no sources.
To see the powerful impact of fossil fuels on carrying capacity you'll notice there's an important inflection point around 1920-1930. This is because of the advent of the Haber process which allows us to use fossil fuels to create nitrogen based fertilizers.
Lest you doubt the impact of the Haber process just look at trends in corn yield per acre since then . It's truly remarkable. Additional gains there are from other industrialized, fossil fuel driven agricultural process.
The Haber process requires hydrocarbons. In the wikipedia article you can see that it consumes 3-5% of the worlds natural gas production and 1-2% of the global energy supply.
We have completely disrupted the natural nitrogen cycle  and so would be unable to produce anywhere near as much food without fossil fuels. Because we have disrupted this cycle it's not even obvious that we could go back to a world of pre-fossil fuel agriculture.
So those are just some bit of information about my claims but let's take a look at yours:
> we could cover all our energy needs with renewable sources within a few decades if we really wanted to... this seems mostly non-disputed to me
This is wildly disputed, and I don't know anyone who credibly believes this without invoking "magic" future technology.
For starters we haven't replaced fossil fuels with "renewables" at all so far. We've just used them to supplement our energy needs. You can see here  that global fossil fuel consumption has continued to rise.
Then it is important to separate electricity from the more general subject of energy. Currently only 20% of global energy usage is electricity generation . So even if you replaced the entire grid with renewables over night you would still be missing the vast majority of energy demands.
We currently have no viable pathway for renewable energy in transportation. Alice Friedman has more notes on this than I could ever fit in a comment . Transportation inherently requires high energy density fuels, and outside of passenger vehicles, battery technology does not have the density required for industrial shipping.
It worth looking at our national energy flows to get a good sense of just how little of the energy we use comes from renewables .
But even if we look just at the electrical grid, in the US, we have some very obvious problems with "all" our needs. As you probably know, wind and solar are intermittent power sources that requires fossil fuel powered "peaker" plants to provide energy in down times.
This had two problems. One you need energy storage technology that we do not currently have (you cannot use grid scale lithium batters, pumped hydro has geological constraints, molten salts only work with concentrated solar, compressed air requires decommissioned oil field, etc).
The other problem is that even if you had perfect storage you need to now more than double the total energy production so you can fill those batteries.
The should be enough sources for you to get started, but I have feeling I'll still get down votes and "hand wavy" explanations of how it will all work out.
> I have feeling I'll still get down votes and "hand wavy" explanations
Let me turn this around: you are getting downvotes (not from me) because your 1 billion population carrying estimate in a post-fossil age is implausible and borderline disingenuous:
1) It assumes that pre-industrial agricultural output is the maximum that our planet can sustain. Which is completely off for a multitude of reasons:
- Genetic improvements to cultivars still fully apply
- Pesticides won't cease to exist
- Automation in harvesting/monitoring also won't go away
2) There is no reason to assume that we're anywhere close to peak sustainable agricultural output, neither in pre-industrial times NOR now.
3) Furthermore, it implies that land utilization, cultivar choice and consumer behavior in general would stay similar/comparable regardless of cataclysmic change in supply/demand (pricing).
Which is obviously wrong: If avocado price went up to 50$/kg then people would just put potatoes on their toast instead, and total agricultural output (in calories) would "inexplicably" increase.
Renewables (solar/wind) are a perfectly fine source of primary energy. Storage/grid stability does not depend on "technology we do not currently have"--Batteries and inverters are perfectly usable, mature technologies--but right now slapping down natural gas plants is simply cheaper. This is exclusively a matter of price/ROI, and installation could be jumpstarted immediately if there was the political will to pay for it (and thats not blaming politicians exclusively to be clear--average citizen is simply unwilling to pay 1$/kWh right now for residential electricity).
> Renewable energy in transportation
Friedman selfdescribes as "energy sceptic" which is already...unfavorable... to me and after stumbling over "running out of fossils is gonna solve climate change better than anything else" (transcribed), I gave up on the author completely;
Viable pathways are:
- Fuel cells
- Hydrogen in combustion engines
We literally built all of those already, but same story here: It's less cost efficient than burning diesel right now, so why would anyone do it.
I agree it's off because we've done significant damage to the biosphere since industrialization. As I've pointed out we have disrupted the natural nitrogen cycle.
If we where to immediately rewind our population back to 1850 and try to life that lifestyle we would have a much harder time since we have depleted natural resources. We cannot go back because we the earth would not support us the way it once did.
> There is no reason to assume that we're anywhere close to peak sustainable agricultural output, neither in pre-industrial times NOR now.
Our entire current agricultural system relies on fossil fuels, so I agree, where nowhere near close... we're way past.
> Viable pathways are
- batteries: not for commercial transport, the energy density is still way too low. Your battery becomes your cargo. Modern global trade is impossible in a battery based economy. Nobody that is serious on renewables will disagree with this, they will claim that new battery technology is going to solve this.
- Biofuel: require more energy to make they they provide . So again, not only do you need to double the grid to handle intermittent power, you now need to expand it by the total biofuel energy required times 1/efficiency, so we're looking at at least tripling our current power output and trying to do it with only renewables. Please tell me how much silicon and lithium it would take to build a grid that large in that sort of a time span and you'll find it dwarf's annual production.
- Fuel cells: same problem again, currently fuel cells are made with coal or natural gas today 95% of fuel cells are made with natural gas . If you want to switch to electrolysis you come up with the same problem of having to double our current grid power.
- Hydrogen in combustion engines: I'm not sure how this is different from hydrogen fuel cells, but the hydrogen production problem is the same.
Please if you want sources, provide some of your own. Come up with some back of the envelope estimates on the total grid capacity needed to cover 100% of our energy needs. Then do some research on the energy costs to produce solar cells at that scale (or wind farms, hydro is already near full capacity at least in the US).
I know you yourself don't really believe what you are saying. It's based on no research, you have provided no meaningful sources, and even the most die-hard solar/renewable proponents realize that grid scale storage is still an unsolved problems. What you have given are "hand wavy" explanations without sources, exactly as I expected.
If such a technology is possible at all, only the very first advanced civilization had the ability to hide from all others. And only if they were able to develop it before any other civilization had been able to track them.
To some extent it might nevertheless be a reasonable strategy to keep as quiet as possible. But this strategy is less and less useful for the latecomers. If they were already tracked by a multitude of other advanced civilization they would hardly benefit from keeping quiet. Unless they (wrongly) think that they are an early advanced civilization.
However, if a couple of these civilizations start to openly seek contact to others, what can the hidden ones do? If a hidden civilization starts to fight one of these latecomers, it would need to leave its cover and make itself known to all other civilizations in its vicinity. If it follows the dark forst hypothesis, it could only do so, when it is sure that it is the only dangerous civilization in its forest.
This leaves me with the following alternatives:
- The forest is dark, because there is only one civilization out there that is very capable in hiding and has the ability to exterminate any latecomer efficiently and without traces.
- The forest appears dark, because it is thinly populated and we just have not looked enough for the others.
- We are the only ones in our cosmic vicinity.
In fact, if you don't mind waiting a bit, it can be almost trivial. All you have to do is basically get a factory to the target system; it can use local resources to build a kinetic kill projectile efficiently out of a big, local hunks of rock and local hydrogen. Launching near-light-speed projectiles from lightyears away is the emergency "oh crap! They're smart already!" option. Killing a planet that only has dinosaurs on it is dead easy for these hypothetical intelligences and there's little reason to believe they wouldn't.
So I think the dark forest hypothesis falls down on the fact that not only has Earth been broadcasting loud and clear to the stars that it has life on it ever since the Great Oxygenation Catastrophe, which was somewhere around 2 to 2.5 billion years ago, the Dark Forest theory implies that any surrounding intelligence that arose and was capable of seeing Earth on that time frame should have hit it. That has not happened. And 2.5 billion years is actually significant even on cosmological time scales.
(Also, no, the dinosaur asteroid or other events were not kill projectiles. If an alien intelligence is going to kill-projectile Earth there's no compelling reason to just sort of inconvenience life... it's going to eliminate it. Hypothesizing a race capable of launching projectiles but being too stupid to realize it wouldn't do the job is too precise a level of incompetence to believe in. As they say, there's no kill like overkill.)
Fun science fiction premise... not a solution to the Fermi paradox.
It seems safe to say that there isn't life that wants our planet.
But if nobody wants our world and they're scared of intelligent life then just send out Von Neumann probes to ensure intelligence isn't showing up elsewhere. First mover's advantage nullifies the entire dark forest.
So either they'd
- already have gotten here & already have destroyed the earth when we showed intelligence
- already have gotten here & don't care about destroying intelligence.
Or... civilizations don't experience unbounded growth over millions of years across millions of light years to begin with.
Many motives from the age of exploration could apply - imperialism, religious beliefs, religious or political differences, cultural exchange, scientific discovery, competition with others, etc. People don't always take the cheapest option; the same could be true of aliens.
We were almost wiped out after the first large impact. The impact that happened a few millennia after we killed all those awful looking smarty octopus that lived in this planet. But we could not defend against the large Comet, it come from behind the Sun and way too fast. We had minutes notice.
Some microbes survived...And here we are again typing on our keyboards. :-)
Gur nyvraf ner ynathntr areqf. Gurl bpphcvrq Rnegu fb gung uhznaf jbhyq perngr n arj qvnyrpg bs gurve ynathntr.
Colonizing other planets and making them into homes for aliens long before a native civilization has a chance to arise seems more plausible than just destroying them.
(Of course, you may still have any amount of conflict with your fellow settlers, or your someone in your original species' descendants two systems over, but that's a completely different conversation.)
> There is no compelling reason to wait until a planet conclusively proves it has intelligence on it to nuke it into oblivion with a kinetic kill projectile.
Or send a technologically engineered molecule that can hijack single-cellular life to help establish your needed technology in the target solar system.
You've got two major approaches: Fling a kinetic kill projectile, or if you have the tech to get "something" into the target system at roughly orbital velocities, send some machines to do the job with local resources.
None of these things appear to have happened in Earth's past. Ironically, trying to spin yarns in which they did anyhow still end up countering the Dark Forest hypothesis, because all such attempts must either include significant probabilities of failure of the attempts or the possibility that the life out there is benevolent (to some degree, at least sufficient to avoid simply wiping us out, which on this scale is "benevolence" despite whatever else they may be doing) which itself would imply the forest isn't that dark.
If I was also murderous, I would have programmed the probes to destroy any signs of life.
So, the fact that we are still alive after broadcasting the presence of life through out atmosphere for the last couple billion years is quite reassuring.
Granted there could be some technical limitations that prevent you from observing certain systems but that pool will be much smaller than an entire galaxy of stars.
Also, don't forget that a Von Neumann probe is at a disadvantage when it arrives in a system since you want to send the minimum number of probes to each star and then have them replicate on arrival. If your probe accidentally shows up in a system that contains an advanced civilization capable of detecting and capturing it then you've given away the fact of your existence and your intent along with all the information that can be gained by studying the probe.
Also I'd expect the probes would communicate with the homeworld via relays (where they were replicated) rather than directly, so it'd take a fair amount of effort to unravel a replicator network unless you caught one of the very first probes.
And also it'd be conspicuous if there was a volume of space in your network where your probes always failed.
Signs of carbon-based life - who is to say all forms of life are carbon-based? The universe is vast, what are the odds of aliens being in our vicinity and time (light cone) stumbling upon our galaxy or star?
There's a limited number of elements, and their abundance in the universe decreases rapidly beyond the first few. Carbon is by far the most advantageous for life due to its vast ability to form complex molecules. Silicon might be a distant second. If there is other life in the universe, and if there's nothing special about us, it might not all be carbon-based, but it's extremely likely that a large amount of it will be.
Stay hidden or destroy anyone close enough to put you at risk along with themselves. This is a spoiler, but IIRC from the books the ultimate safety net was to make your solar system not only invisible... but impenetrable in either direction but essentially trapping yourself in a black hole... thus removing yourself from the equation and hopefully satiating anyone watching.
The time scales and distances involved meant that you weren't really perceived as a threat until you approached the ability to reach light speed, which made you stick out enough to be noticed in far corners of the universe. We broadcast radio, but it's not loud or far-reaching enough to be noticed by the far-out civilization destroying overlords. It was loud enough for a different nearby civilization to come destroy us in an attempt to save themselves from being destroyed along with us.
Of course, when applied in reality who the hell knows.
> Overall, the Dark Forest Hypothesis has an internal logic and consistency that makes it an appealing (if somewhat somber) potential resolution to Fermi’s age-old question. Unfortunately, it also suffers from an inherent flaw that is capable of unraveling the whole thing. Like many other Fermi-related hypotheses, it only takes one exception to this rule to prove it wrong.
Given this, I thought it was going to follow on to point out that we are the exception to the rule, but instead it goes on to talk about malevolent exceptions. But, as the article mentioned earlier, we have made many active attempts to communicate our existence to other hypothetical civilisations, and we make no effort in obscuring our radio signals.
Is it possible that other civilisations follow the “Dark Forest” principle? Of course it is! But why would we happen to be the only civilisation that doesn't really worry about getting seen? The possibility that we are not alone and we are the only ones trying to communicate sounds even more fanciful and anthropocentric than any of the alternatives.
But IMO Dark Forest is bunk anyway, because it assumes that projecting power over interstellar distances is easier than defending yourself. That's not true within terrestrial history ... even though the arrival of colonists was massively disruptive to populations in (for example) the Americas, they couldn't have outright destroyed them. To survive, they had to trade and mingle with their neighbors, ultimately changing both cultures.
The sequels to The Three Body Problem kind of discuss this, and extend the dark forest idea to consider that any population that splits off from you is now a dark forest alien. I find that crazy xenophobic and ultimately an impractical black and white view of self vs other. On Earth, successful civilizations have been capable of trade and cultural exchange in addition to force.
This seems really obviously true to me. Accelerating a rock to relativistic speeds is pretty easy, defending against a rock potentially coming from anywhere in space traveling at relativistic speeds is extremely difficult.
So in summation, I think defending against an incoming relativistic rock is at least as easy as using relativistic rocks to obliterate a distant civilization.
You don't need to hit the planet directly with anything, all you need to do is destabilize the orbit of all the planets or even just the Earth itself. You could send a gravity wave for example, that would cause the Earth's near circular orbit to shift to a very eliptical orbit. The vast change in temperatures would kill all life on the planet, and then you could come and mine all the resources that you needed and leave.
And the other side of that equation is: does the species who can do that have anything to fear from us? Or does the same technology make them likely able to stay ahead on defense, making it uninteresting to destroy us?
Three Body Problem introduces all this dimension folding tech that makes being the first to strike totally dominate. But the closest equivalent on Earth hasn't (yet) led to nuclear holocaust, because preventing others from getting the tech and establishing mutual detente with those who do has been better for each actor.
This stuff doesn’t need sci-fi style new physics, just the kind of infrastructure we could actually build.
The closest Star is ~268,770 AU where voyager 1 is only 152.6 AU. However, being able to target a probe within 50 feet at 150AU, means hitting a planet sized target at 4.25 light years. Building a probe large enough and fast enough to do significant damage at the other side is the hard part, not targeting.
Calculating where a planet sized object would be by the time our probe got there is a different story.
Just because you now claim to not be addressing the actual goal at hand doesn’t mean I moved the goalpost; if anything you’re now implying you did.
Still, I doubt we could detect a barrage of incoming 0.0005c weapons designed for minimal levels of stealth in time to do anything about it.
Anyway, it's not a target and forget situation, because relativistic ships get a (relatively) lot of drag in space.
Which don't exist except as fantasy, and even most of the fantasy ones wouldn't work for targeting adjustments.
I don't think anybody can make any claim on what side is easier. But targeting the attack does not seem to be the hard part.
Worse, it doesn’t need to be some solid object. A loose field of debris 1,000 miles wide could sterilize a planet with enough mass and enough velocity.
Huh? How? I haven't seen any proposal that doesn't start with the assumption that we can inject a rock with a preposterous amount of energy let alone hit (in astronomical scales) a ridiculously small target, not to mention navigate all the gravity wells in between.
This does get back to the "Why didn't we RKKV it millions of years before intellegent life even existed, much less had a opportunity to hide, based on biosignatures in the atmosphere?", though.
Also, while 'proper' stealth is difficult, you can make the rock pretty close to invisible for practical purposes by coating it in vantablack and cooling it to liquid helium temperatures.
Forget about what monstrosities we have done to other human
civilizations throughout history. Instead, think about what we have done to animals. We have hunted many animals out of existence, or we have farmed them and made them basically the equivalent of the Matrix, sources of energy and food.
We are trying to eradicate mosquitoes for crying out loud, and entire species, without giving it a second thought. I will use insecticide to kill today entire colonies of ants without blinking.
All it takes is for one advanced alien civilisation to come across us and deem us the equivalent of their mosquitoes to eradicate us and take all the resources from the
Earth. That's the whole point of the Dark Forest theory. If there's an infinite number of civilisations out there, and one of them is so advanced that we are insects to them, why wouldn't they just exterminate us, or use us as food?
We want to exterminate mosquitoes because they're actively detrimental. Nobody's advocating for the extermination of, say, daddy long-legs spiders even though they're everywhere; and nobody would be advocating for the extermination of mosquitoes if they were all located in Antarctica.
So it takes a very precise level of inferiority to be extermination fodder. If you're too unassuming, there's no reason and so it doesn't happen. If you're dangerous enough that you can fight back and hold your own, it doesn't happen either.
That aliens would find us just the right shade of annoying seems... implausible.
The Invaders divide sentient life into three tiers - species like themselves that evolve in gas giants, cetaceans, and vermin; we're in the third category.
All of this would drastically reduce number of visible civilizations at any time making the detection of civilizations much less likely.
Of course, this could always be explained by the distances involved and the limitations of light speed, but that would make the Dark Forest hypothesis redundant as an explanation as to why we haven't yet detected any alien civilisation(s).
Even if they destroy them within say a thousand years, then at any given time there would be only few civilizations at the right age to be broadcasting. And not very loud at that.
We listen only to a miniscule portion of the Galaxy. IMO, Fermi's question shouldn't be "Why can't we hear the few civs that are close to our level".
It should be "How come we don't detect Kardashev >2 civs collonizing most of the galaxy?" Why can't we detect a single Dyson Sphere?
(I don't consider dark forest explanation to be probable though.)
Protector by Larry Niven
David Weber's Dahak trilogy, available as the Empire from the Ashes omnibus
Or how do we know that we, humans, aren't the colonists? Well, all the life we know comes from the same ancestry, including us.
Because most civilizations are probably still a 100+ light years apart and we just haven't been around and listening for that long? Even if we've theoretically had the chance to detect another early civilization the other listeners have been listening for aeons longer than us and are much better at it.
And 2000 years is nothing timewise on scale of universe. Plus we talk about signal that can maybe travel few hundred / a thousand light years before they blend into galactic and intergalactic noise.
* it takes time, we've only been broadcasting for 70 years or so. 70 light years isn't that far.
* we are far from dangerous listeners (we are right out on an arm in the milky way galaxy)
* all planets broadcast for a while at least (we did so without any serious consideration) and not all broadcasts end in annihilation. Up until just 40 years ago we seemed pretty likely to wipe ourselves out with war, even if an alien were planning our destruction, why not wait and see if we did it ourselves?
* Popular methods of destruction might not apply to our solar systems. If you rely on near by asteroids or free-floating planets to destroy civilisations and there happen to be none near sol, then we are safe to broadcast even if no one is safe to reply.
* if more than 1 alien actively destroys planets we might be lucky and have the aliens who detected us assume other aliens will destroy us. As long as they are happy to wait, we can broadcast in blissful ignorance believing we disproved the dark forest when we're actually just in the middle of a Mexican standoff...
* If a civilisation destroys other civilisations as soon as it detects them, you can use the abrupt destruction of civilisations to triangulate that civilisation. And destroy it. And that's a high priority since that way you find hidden civs AND ones which pose an immediate and serious threat to you. The best defence against this is to allow plenty of time between detecting and destroying a civilisation, especially a harmless unarmed (in the cosmic scale) one like ours. The lack of many close neighbours to us means a would be destroyer needs to wait even longer before striking us to maintain their annonimity.
Ironically this last point is the best argument against the dark forest: why destroy soft targets like earth when doing so reveals your existence? Why not wait, let someone else hit us and then hit them since they were a much bigger threat. So you'd expect a certain amount of noisy "prey" to be left as bait by one predator for another...
Also, I don't think we are broadcasting very much anymore. The move to digital broadcasts (lower power) and to Internet based comms/media (99% undetectable even from orbit) mean we're a lot less visible than we were previously.
There are only 76 type A stars within 100ly of us (100 light years because we've had powerful radio about that long). So even assuming every star had a civilisation capable of destroying us, that's only 76 of them.
Similarly, we've had primative life on earth for millions of years. If a civ exists that can detect primative life and wishes to destroy it, it would have done so by now on earth since the milky way is only about 100k ly across.
That's without getting into whether technological development is actually exponential, whether it caps out or how fast it is...
If someone knocked on your door, quite unexpectedly, in the middle of the night, can I err on the idea that you would be quite panic-struck?
But if humanity got a signal from another civilization tomorrow, do you think it is safe to err on folks being quite happy?
Quite likely, but only because the socially acceptable reasons to knock on someone's door in the middle of the night are usually something pretty bad. I wouldn't fear that they're attacking me. I would fear whatever they are waking me up to tell me about.
But if a stranger knocks on your door in the middle of the day you might just open up and say "no thanks, I don't want your pamphlet/vacuum/encyclopedia".
I mean, even if a stranger knocks, it seems weird to kill them assuming they're dangerous, even if we have "don't let a stranger in" etched in our collective consciousness.
Well, yes. But it could also make the (possibly) few blithe spirits who do want communicate be in general much further away, and thus much harder to communicate with.
We are also the only civilization we know of so we again may just be the dumb ones with a sample size of 1.
Attaining that technological level could be inherently linked with the ability to realize the dangers to begin with.
Spamming aliens with nude selfies, among other measures, which in retrospect may not have been a wise choice: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pioneer_plaque
If the theory was true, then the first thing those "tree-body man" would reasonably do is to just destroy the solar system straight away with that super illegal (to the law of physics) raindrop probe. A civilization with the intention of discover and kill will definitely make their probes efficient kill devices, right? Why pay the expense of identify and kill the "Key actors" one by one when you can delete a entire system for cheap? Just turn the probe into a blackhole to kill the sun, it should be easy if the probe was really that dense.
A more direct attack is rooted in the theory itself: for the theory to be true, a state/condition called 猜疑连 (Chain Of Suspicion) must be created. The content of Chain Of Suspicion is simple:
- A civilization cannot determine if another civilization is evil
- A civilization cannot determine if other civilizations will view itself as evil
- A civilization cannot determine if another civilization will launch an attack against it
- A civilization cannot determine if itself is evil
- A civilization cannot determine if another civilization view themself as evil
- A civilization cannot determine if another civilization will treat itself in such way that been determined unevil
- ... ... (The article that I quoted from has this at the last line: https://wiki.mbalib.com/wiki/%E9%BB%91%E6%9A%97%E6%A3%AE%E6%9E%97%E6%B3%95%E5%88%99#.E5.8F.B6.E6.96.87.E6.B4.81.E6.8F.90.E5.87.BA.E7.9A.84.E2.80.9C.E5.9F.BA.E6.9C.AC.E5.85.AC.E7.90.86.E2.80.9D.E5.92.8C.E4.B8.A4.E5.A4.A7.E9.87.8D.E8.A6.81.E6.A6.82.E5.BF.B5)
Now, let's talk about some serious thing. Because I've noticed some people uses the Dark Forest Theory to explain the relation between nations (yes, Earth nations). So it is really important to realize that the entire theory is nothing more than a plot device that Liu Cixin employed for his novel, among many other plots. Most of them are there to make the story more convenient, instead of more logical (as I have said, based on the theory, the logical thing to do is to wipe everything out at contact, how convenient that the probe "JuST cAnT" huh?).
So, if the theory inspired you do to something good, then nice, go ahead, have a good life, help people, communticate with others, try to understand others, have fun. However, if you believe the "Dark Forest Theory" is THE true governing rule of the universe, then you probably overthink it too much, stop it, it's not healthy. And guess what, the planet we're living on hosts multiple civilizations, you stick with us now no matter what.
It's orders of magnitude of orders of magnitude less energy to communicate with (including obscuring your origin, if you want) than destroy a civilization. And communication has potential benefits (cooperation) that destruction does not.
Civilizations that communicated would very quickly and easily out-compete/out-advance civilizations that did not. "Malevolent" civilizations would inevitably run into more advanced cooperating civs sooner or later and be checked, either learning to cooperate themselves or lose.
Put another way, the assumptions used to build out the hypothesis, "Chains of Suspicion" and "Technological Explosion", don't make sense either. "Chains of Suspicion" assumes civilizations cannot communicate, yet the dark forest hypothesis assume civilizations can destroy each other. That's a contradiction. If you can physically interact, you can communicate (and as I pointed out before, with much, much less energy/resources than it takes to destroy). And "Technological Explosion", as written in the book, assume exponential technological growth could occur at any point, which seems to be nonsense to me. Any kind of exponential growth necessarily depends on a medium primed with the resources for that growth and stops when the resources are expended (which is never all that long, given the nature of exponential growth).
I cringed every time this idea was forced into the forefront of the books. They are such great and imaginative books, I don't mind at all that not all the ideas really pan out, but it was a little hard to stomach every time the plot turned on this weak idea.
If what you say is true, it should've been true for earlier human civilizations too.
Why didn't the Chinese and Japanese civilizations unite to conquer others?
Why didn't the Mongols unite with whoever else to conquer, instead of Genghis Khan doing it all with a bunch of Mongols in horses?
Human civilization is a dark forest that only changed with global trade. The communication challenge is language and culture. And civilizations have always been technologically distinct, with the more powerful one almost always conquering.
With interstellar communication and technological advance it would be orders of magnitude higher stakes.
What I keep thinking about is that we are all... Humans. Like, the same animal, same way of thinking etc. And yet our answer so many times is conflict.
The only reason conquerors didn't kill all the conquered was for taxes and slaves and so on. Imagine if resources were not an issue ( advanced enough tech) and you wanted to avoid confrontation.
Sending a near light speed bullet to explode a star seems a good trade-off to keep your dominance.
Also, have you met any Aztec? There are barely any American Indians left compared to the millions there were originally.
Mammuts? All the giant marsupials of Australia that went extinct the moment humans set foot there?
We've been on top of the food chain for very long. Now imagine if we discover another race may take our place and the only option is communication or total obliteration?
I wish it was different, we only have a sample size of one.
But just like the three space ships that first found out about the dark forest and ultimately killed each other, it's what makes most sense from game theory
But we're pretty sure we obliterated a entire species in our way up the food chain ( giant marsupials for example)
Humans had the power to exterminate many more but chose not to, and continue to choose not to.
Saying "we didn't kill them all" doesn't exempt the fact that we did it for many of them.
There's no easy answer to this. We are what we are. But it points to the disregard powerful beings have over weaker ones when they get in their way.
Especially the predators that compete with us.
I think you misunderstood what they meant by "communicate". They don't mean "reach with a message", they mean "engage in back and forth communication with both sides understanding the conversation".
We're still struggling to talk to dolphins, but technically we could nuke them all to death if we ever got scared they were rising up.
ALl this to say: if they were rising up, we'd probably be able to create a bidirectional connection. We can only make sense "nuking them all to death", like you say in america to mean "defend our freedom and way of life", if we are able to communicate and are faced with a refusal to submit. The dolphin, so far, accept american hegemony - there's no purpose to nuking them.
So it is correct what you say, but here we're talking of civilizations. Civilizations worth nuking will always have a way to understand each others, otherwise there'd be no threat worth suppressing.
Again, we cannot talk to dolphins. Closest we’ve got is teaching monkeys sign language - and to be fair, that’s pretty good, but we’re also very similar to them. My reason for the dolphin analogy is that they’re an intelligent species here on earth that have incredibly different physiology and behavioural patterns to us. We can’t assume that any other ‘intelligent’ species in the universe we find will be similar enough to us where we can figure out rudimentary sign language with them, we have to assume the worst, in this case trying to communicate with an entirely foreign species.
Also the phrase ‘’the dolphin, so far, accept American hegemony - there’s no purpose to nuking them’’ is the funniest thing I’ve read in a while, lol.
You're leaving out the time required to communicate. Yes, communication would require less energy, but time is a constant that even type 3 civilizations could be in short supply of.
The chain of suspicion calls this out explicitly, it's not that the civs cannot communicate, it's that due to the extreme lengths of time required for back-and-forth communications their societies are likely to significantly change during communications, leading to higher probability of the technological explosion.
What medium was primed for the technological explosion on Earth since the industrial revolution? I mean, I reckon we could point to an array of things that have seemed as though they would be a limit, but thus-far we've always found ways past that (see: peak oil). I'm not trying to indicate I think our trends _will_ go on forever, just that it seems possible they could.
Those books are pretty awful. They can't make up their mind whether they belong to sci-fi or fantasy. Sometimes they veer towards hard scifi but then make naive mistakes with current science. The characters are cardboard cutouts, very shallow, and make nonsensical decisions. The general atmosphere is depressing and ends in the complete failure of basically everything.
IIRC The Dark Forest addresses this directly - saying that wiping out a civilization must be cheap and casual. There's a chapter where an alien scout detects Earth, puts a dimensionality attack cartridge in a gun or something, launches it and goes on with their business.
There could be trillions of habitats out there and we'd never know it. From small low-orbit stations orbiting home planets to larger complexes orbiting their stars instead up to generation ships moving to the next star to mine for more resources or to build more ships due to population limits being hit. Once you've perfected the building of habitats that are large enough and are tailored to your species specific needs, why mess around with planets that can kill you in so many different ways?
Maybe the reason we don't see anyone is because we can't resolve even very large habitats at light-year distances and the reason we don't run into them is because we don't have anything they can't get somewhere that isn't already inhabited. Perhaps they avoid inhabited systems because of the dangers involved.
If, instead of doing a product of the probability of each event, you actually take the various distributions into account (nowadays you can easily test a wide variety of distributions with monte carlo methods) then, the probability of getting into contact with another life in the universe becomes vanishingly small.
Unless, of course, saying it's your "favorite" is your way of saying "I like to believe in this one hypothesis".
I'm not sure this constraint is so strict to force a strong competition for survival, given how vast the universe is. It seems to me this projecting our earth-bound mentality of limited resources to a whole different scale, where it may not really apply.
If you can manipulate space-time at the levels exposed in the book you can trivially build orbitals that will host trillions of beings and live in a post-scarcity society for millennia, after which your society is likely to disappear waaay before you run out of space and resources.
It is just a common topic in fiction that great civilizations just fade out, and it seems reasonable to me. I do not believe the average individual would want to live forever, and at some point I feel the same would apply to civilizations. But for the sake of fun, I can recall some ideas from literature :)
Maybe they evolve into higher states of being and leave our plane of existence.
Maybe they stop reproducing and slowly die out.
Maybe they reach a level of self-introspection where they believe continuing existing is pointless.
Maybe they migrate to a more reliable virtual world in a sub-space computer.
Maybe each individual gets its own universe.
Maybe the society splinters over some trivial concepts and the old knowledge is lost when the machines start to fail.
There's a lot of interesting things that can happen, let's hope we'll find out late enough :)
1. You don't have enough easily accessible hydrocarbons in ground to build a civilization advanced enough to even get you into space.
2. You do have enough hydrocarbons which leads to inevitable overshoot, and accompanying collapse before you ever get close to figuring out interstellar travel. Exponential growth patterns lead you to either exhaust the carrying capacity of your planet, or you end up warming your planet too much and die off (or a little bit of both).
We're a pretty good case study between 1 and 2. Right now we're in a race to see if we can exhaust our hydrocarbons or overheat our planet first, there seems to be no realistic alternative (plenty of nice fantasy ones though).
If we had reached peak oil in the early 80s (or sooner) we would have likely avoided catastrophic climate change, but would have started a major population shift downwards towards 1 billion, where we would have likely stabilized but with no major technical progress (technological progress is largely a function of energy).
We didn't though, so now it seems like we are going to continue to increase the rate we combust hydrocarbons until we create an unlivable planet (at least for us). A few billionaires are making some cool toys, but we don't seem to be able to survive until we're anywhere near interstellar travel.
Because all current climate doom-erism notwithstanding--
humanity extinction seems impossible to achieve to me via climate change or nuclear war; rogue autonomous self-replicating systems might be a danger, but are too far beyound current tech to estimate risk IMO...
Very curious if/how/why you disagree on this!
To avoid an extended argument about all the ways in which climate change will screw things up, let's focus on nuclear war: a nuclear war between, say, India and China would not only wipe out huge swaths of the human population but also ruin the global economy because industries in Europe and the US depend on these countries. And that's without going into the ecological effects of a nuclear war.
The economy relies on layers and layers of extremely convoluted supply chains and can't sustain a loss of even 1% of the human population, let alone 10% or more. The US has only seen a death of around 0.2% of its population due to COVID and is already facing labor shortages in retail. The blockade of the Suez canal was a big concern but imagine the Suez canal is simply gone.
Pretty certain these two metrics are absolutely unrelated, given the fact that people who would have died were probably quite old in the first place.
I think you are underestimating the ability of humanity to adjust and innovate, especially over time. I mean we literally essentially lose 1% of the human population to old age every year.
There's still quite a lot of coal though.
I'm fairly certain that our accumulated knowledge would make a second industrial happen even faster in spite of fossil-fuel-lack (but it might play out slightly differently, because of higher fuel costs...)
Long term, there are alternative routes that could be taken (capable of processing fresh ore) but using scrap metal just seems easier/more likely to me.
That general AI going rogue if it gets conscious is small, more probable is narrow AI that has mistake in setting goals, given too much power by either military or corporations.
Global Warming is highly probable but we still have chance if we find energy to cooperate around mutual goal.
- Siberian permafrost and releasing huge amount of CH4 topping up all efforts.
- Amazon forest now release more CO2 than sequester (this week news)
- Species are being extinct on a rapid rate
- Wildfires/droughts continue to increase devastation
- Floods and heatwaves are stronger (losing ice caps will increase this to Equatorial heats once planet albedo of caps is lost )
Now, critical is next 10 years That does not mean that humanity will be wipe out in 10 years, but will set course for final destination. As no technology or amount of money will help us past that point, weather pastern and issues will be out of our hands. In bad scenario 99% reduction of population till 2100. Again guess. Underground pocket of sparse scientific communities could survive bit longer past this point, using geothermal energy and nuclear power.
Nuclear war is quite probable, I think critical is next 20 years:
If all weapons are fired, simply put, some people may survive, but they would wish they are dead. Let me put this way, we all have romantic dreams of surviving, go to Hiroshima, ground zero, then straight to museum, and then imagine something 2000 times more powerful multiplied by 16000. And of course everyone forgets Nuclear power plants, ~450 with similar yield. If you do not have Cheyenne Mountain complex at your disposal, your life expectancy is between 0 and 3 years. (acid rains, nuclear winter, no food, no medications, no drinking water, no animals ...). Even if someone survives it would be back to stone age - killing each other for basic necessities (even human meat), as there is nothing else to eat.
China vs US, US vs Russia, India vs Pakistan, rogues nation getting a weapon on some black market ...
Anyhow, if our civilization was cooperative society with higher goals, it would be fine, but from my experience, and from what I saw during my life, all governments are nothing but aristocratic mafia organisation sponsored by big business having one goal to increase wealth of their share holders justifying all means by what ever ends they have.
But regardless what I wrote or how many arguments I give as Friedrich Nietzsche "Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man." many especially those in power to do something, will have tendency not to believe in the final outcome until it happens, so instead of taking actions they will continue business as usual.
When I was young I lived in different country there one post WW2 leader used to say "Work and enjoy like we will live in peace 100 of years, and at the same time prepare like there will be a war tomorrow", personally I think it is a good policy for Global Warming or WW3, we should imagine the worst and then work as hard as possible so it never happens, employing all possible strategies at our disposal to save all life on planet, (DNA bank, 5d crystals, space travel, multi-planet, multi-suns ... whatever).
Similar like in IT we protect systems, for me who ever uses "doom-erisam" and similar shaming terms is nothing better than those person. Ostrich burying head in the sand like will not save you from the lion. In IT good network security guys imagine all possible scenarios, and they are not afraid that by the so called "new-age quantum vibration field" if they imagine bad scenarios they will attract it just by the power of thought. Admins/devs frequently must imagine and test all bad scenarios, even play roles of bad actors, so they can employ protective techniques.
In the similar way we should explore bad scenarios and see is it possible to do anything, but unfortunately, we who talk about it and comment a lot, our circle of concern is significantly bigger then our influence, and those who have huge circle of influence (money) the do not give two dimes about our concerns, and that is the reason my friend I am not optimist about our future in next 10 years...
First: I use the term because I see NO factual basis for assuming that humankind is going extinct. Your post did not change my view on that:
1) I fully agree that global warming is a massive problem.
But assuming that it's going to lead to human extinction is IMO straight up delusional.
The only plausible mechanism is full-runaway "hot-venus" greenhouse effect (evaporating our oceans), and that is a scenario that--pretty much all scientists agree--we are NOT going to reach no matter how much fossil fuel we burn (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runaway_greenhouse_effect#Eart...).
Rising sea levels and climate change might lead to international crises and cost countless human lifes, but there is simply NO WAY for this to kill ALL humans by itself.
2) With nuclear threats it's a similar situation: There are simply not enough nukes to cover the inhabited surface (even assuming worst-case full escalation!):
The highest estimates I found were between 1.6 and 3 billion victims, assuming that every last nuke was used on the most effective target and killing every person there (which are both completely unrealistic assumptions).
Both fallout and nuclear winter are completely insufficient for extinction purposes, because there is not enough radioactive material for the fallout and not enough dust in the atmosphere for nuclear winter to kill all (we had somewhat comparable volcanic events in the past).
3) Corrupt leadership is something humankind has survived with since leaders exist; there is simply no reason to assume that they are suddenly going to cause our all extinction.
There is a huge difference between I do NOT want to see, and there is NO factual basis.
From https://worldpopulationreview.com/world-cities only 1170 cities have population of 2,179,929,822, RS-28 Sarmat yield is 10 heavy warheads, each yield of 1.5Mt. Currently there is 3,700 nukes deployed and 13,132 nukes total. We do not know what China has so those number are without it. With the new hyper-sonic weapons time to react and go to shelter which in London practically does not exist except underground transport, so to get to nearest station you would need 30 min but nuke needs 15 min to arrive. Let's suppose that one Sarmat is enough to level town size of London or Paris. So only with firstly deployed there would be 2200 nukes to spare.
But what about heavier nukes those 10Mt yields, what about revamping Tsar Bomba with 50Mt (8km fireball, 68 km mushroom cloud and shock waves circling Earth 3 times). So, what exactly will intercept hyper-sonic? So when you say estimate 1.6 to 3bn I would rather say it is very optimistic, and that only from the blasts. Next goes fallout... are you saying no one will die out cancer in full exchange? It will be all ok after 5 years?
EMP would wiped out grid and internet, what will exactly pump water? What are you going to drink? Quickly made filter from charcoal and that will do?
And to what hospital are you going to go if you scratch on rusty nail for instance?
Next, what are you going to eat, 80% of food in UK is imported, https://www.businessinsider.com/no-deal-brexit-percentage-br... there is no more ships with food and oil?
Where are you going to get money banks are out, no plastic cards, cash does not worth anything? do you have silver or gold? How many will die out of hunger in next 10 years?
And what about nuclear power plants 450 of them? They are not the same like nukes, nukes burn their fission material, but as we know from Fukushima Daiichi Accident and Chernobyl disaster, they were quite tricky, and there we managed to do something about it. Who will go to "fix" nuclear power planets after exchange, so plenty of fallout there?
As I said it would not be extinction but 99% reduction, and those who survive would wish they have not. By the way I am not trying to convince anyone people have had too many video survival games with happy ending, and to test reality you just need to go to near by woods for 7 days without food and water, and what ever experience you have just multiply by 300 times.
Going back to first line,
> your post did not change my view
I somehow find more frighting and delusional that way of thinking, as it leaves possibility to use mentioned as solution for fixing problem as people optimistically believe they are the one that will survive.
There is a reason why "Mutually assured destruction" and "nuclear deterrence" exist as such, as no one will ever attempt any such idiotic thing. As what we model usually does not correspond with reality. And when you know that everyone will loose like in the move "War games" then only way to win is not to play a game. And if current narrow AI can do it today I hope you as far superior intelligence can come to the same conclusion.
I'll give you the other perspective on the doom-erism:
People preaching about the inevitable extinction of humankind just provide ammunition/"strawmans" against progressive climate policies because these doom-prophecies are obvious bullshit and everyone not in an echo bubble knows it.
Just consider how easy it was to dismiss your "humankind is going extinct because of climate change" points-- because it IS BULLSHIT. Climate change is NOT going to lead to human extinction, and preaching this just steals credibility and hinders much more than it helps by polarizing society/preventing consensus.
As for the nuclear threat:
> only 1170 cities have population of 2,179,929,822
First: These are metropolitan areas, not cities. One warhead per area is not even going to kill a fraction of the people.
Consider: Tokyo metro region is 14000 km^2. Fireball size for a 10Mt warhead is <20km^2 (no larger warheads are in use and there would be no point). The highest estimate I found (3E9 victims) assumed 3 warheads per region I think, which is pretty similar to the numbers you came up with.
Taking all the aftereffects into account, you'll maybe get past the 50% population mark, but that is still not human extinction.
You have to understand that you have not dismissed anything, you do not have knowledge you have beliefs, judging by the angry typing. There is no point discussing with believes.
Regarding full fledged nuclear exchange I would ask you to write a paper and make computer model, I do not know what is your field of work do you have a sufficient knowledge to do it?
Regarding Global Warming it is fairly uncharted territory, now we know that models from 10 years ago were overly optimistic and that things are happening at much faster rate than expected.
Anyhow, to cut the long unfruitful story short, lets remember this and check in 5 and 10 years what happens.
I'm not a believer.
Show me scientific papers that credibly warn about human extinction because of climate change, and I will change my view immediately (hint: the IPCC reports DONT, and those pretty much mirror the current scientific consensus).
But what would it take to change your belief that humankind is likely to go extinct because of climate change?
> Regarding Global Warming it is fairly uncharted territory, now we know that models from 10 years ago were overly optimistic and that things are happening at much faster rate than expected.
Maybe. But projected outcomes have not really changed. Hansen et al (in "Science", 1981) alluded to potential flooding of ~25% of Lousiana/Florida, given the total loss of the west-antarctic ice shield (= +5m sea level). This is WAAAAYYYYY worse than what any current model predicts for even the absolute worst case in 2100, but even this scenario would not lead to human extinction, not by a long shot.
> Regarding full fledged nuclear exchange I would ask you to write a paper and make computer model, I do not know what is your field of work do you have a sufficient knowledge to do it?
There is no point: We agree on the facts, basically that there are not enought nukes to blast even half of humankind and fallout/nuclear winter won't suffice to kill the rest.
But if you want an interactive computer model check this out:
Yes, you are equally believer as I am, and everyone on the planet, scientific paper do not mean much (don't get me wrong continue reading), that was the thing I was trying to say, in papers, we have estimates and models, we do not know what will happen exactly in real events. (and that is the point if you are scared enough, you never attempt to attack your enemy) You asked me for an opinion, not the knowledge about the outcome - therefore, I believe that your estimate is low, and you believe my estimate is too high - but neither of us knows what will happen.
> There is no point: We agree on the facts
No, we have not. I just listed the initial blast losses and ask you bunch a of questions on what would follow, on which you have not gave any answers. Regarding the map, I know about it, and it is not a model. It is more of a joke. I can list all the things you need to include, and you build a model; again I do not know your field of work? What do you do?
Humanity can survive in multiple ways, and let say, if we build an artificial womb and save DNA samples, and then after waiting for 100000 years, AI restores humanity and the animal/bio world - is that a real survival?
Also, if we lose 99% and 1% continues, is that acceptable? For me, "The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic." does not really work and it is not acceptable in any case or capacity.
How long will those need to get back on track? What about the amount of suffering they will go through? And after 10000 thousand years, will they repeat the same mistake, but this time with more powerful weapons? According to Mahabharata Indian legend, we already had a similar war with similar weapons a very long time ago, ok it is a story, not a real history as we know, it is more of as Science Fiction of old age in which weapons described are just amazing (self-navigated weapons, explosives, flying ships...)... anyhow I went sideways, I am trying to say the cycle of repetition is boring and at the end can get us extinct due to multiple other causes/agents.
Also while thinking about nuclear exchange we have not even touch that govs will not stop with nukes, there will be plenty of chemical and biological weapons exchange to finish what is left enhanced Ebola, black death and everything else you can and you cannot imagine currently at the military of the world disposal.
If humanity would drop to 100 million (1%) (population approximately 2000 years ago), how spread the population would be? How many gangs? How many tribal wars? Again, what with 450 nuclear power plants around the world? Surrounding of the Chernobyl will not be habitable for 20000 years. https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/environment/2019/05/che...
Now, in the time we need to recover, let say in all best conditions where people will not get hugely religious, and instead they turn to science, start learning as much as possible, that there will be no wars for resources, and gangs and criminals, that they will be very cooperative and not repeat same mistakes of the human nature as greed and lust for money, how many years would we need to recover from ashes and radioactive waste? 1000 years, 500, 100, 10 years? Damage would not be comparable to WW2 recovery, as scale of damage would be much bigger. And how would you organize society and make them do any work? How would you secure leader, aristocracy and politicians that caused this issue in the first place? Would they become primary target?
So, let say those 100 million left would need 100 years to recover, fairly optimistic time as nuclear winter would play a good part in the recovery time. During that recovery period, just a bit larger space rock can end the story, the same way like with the dinosaurs.
You could say that even now we do not have the technology, but current state + 50 years of new technology, we could have protection in the future.
But set back of just 100 years + same space rock few miles wide we would not have any protection, and it would be a game over.
All these scenario are hypothetical and we do not know really, but I would rather choose those probable scenarios that will increase our chance. As I know one thing for certain, I do not know where you live and what are your survival skills, but here in London my survival chances in the case of event are equal to zero and I have to admit I love internet even when we do not agree on things we do not have any influence whatsoever. :)
All states are. Not all systems of government are states.
> media manipulations of wide populous
The media is owned by the same "aristocracy" that controls the state.
In the US and other capitalist countries the aristocracy mostly consists of billionaires and a few political "clans" (usually with ties to "old money"). In the USSR the aristocracy was the Bolshevik intelligentsia and former capitalists that formed the bureaucracy. The problem isn't inherent to humanity, it's inherent to centralized systems.
The video you linked actually supports this somewhat: a ruler can't rule alone, they need a staff of advisors and delegates to carry out the ruler's orders. But this is only a problem if you try to have a ruler, or a committee of rulers.
The usual counter-argument is that decentralized systems don't work at scale. You can have small communities decide things with direct democracy but clearly that doesn't scale because it's harder to reach consensus the larger the group becomes. To address this I would invite you to read into Democratic Confederalism or watch Anark's aptly-titled video "after the revolution" that explores a very similar anarchist/mutualist governance structure.
In most of these scenarios the answer to "direct democracy doesn't scale" is a delegate system and it's easy to mistake this for the same representative democracy we're used to but the important difference is that the delegation is not only proportional but voluntary and consent can be withdrawn, either generally or on individual votes. NonCompete's video has some poorly aged off-hand comments about how technology might help with this but he gives a good explanation of how such a delegate system can work. CGP Grey actually also has videos on alternative voting systems making such a system feasible.
The main difference with these systems is that they're decentralized in the sense that power is granted explicitly and voluntarily, i.e. it can be withdrawn at a moment's notice, making it impossible to hold on to it over technicalities (like receiving a minority share of the votes but then joining a coalition government that appoints your party leader as chancellor and then passes an Enabling Act to disempower the senate like in 1933). At first glance this may sound like sovereign citizens rejecting arrest by exclaiming "I do not consent" but the important difference is that a delegate's vote is only worth as much as the number of people backing them.