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RE: starship-design: It's a bad, bad world out there

On Saturday, October 25, 1997 9:38 PM, Isaac Kuo [SMTP:kuo@bit.csc.lsu.edu] 
> >I am familiar with the Fermi Paradox but see no real reason why it is
> >relevant, space is vast after all, why SHOULD there be intelligent life
> >within 1,000 light years of Earth?
> Apparently you're not familiar with the Fermi Paradox.  The paradox
> is that even being extremely conservative about the likelihood of
> evolving intelligent life and being extremely conservative about
> the speed of interstellar colonization, intelligent life should
> _already_ have colonized the entire galaxy (including our Solar
> System).
> So the question, is, "Where are they?"

Actually, the Fermi Paradox makes several unjustifiable assumptions to 
arrive at the conclusion that the universe _must_ be teeming with life and 
_intelligent_ life to boot. This was one of Carl Sagan's favorite topics, 
and yes I'm sure it was picked apart heavily on various newsgroups. 
However, there are literally thousands of reasons why said intelligent life 
would never be visible to us and probably millions more which haven't even 
occurred to us yet. Case in point, answer the following question, be 
precise and be prepared to justify your answer:

How many intelligent species are there on Earth?

> The relevance of the Fermi Paradox to Pellegrino's theory is that it's
> offered as a possible solution to the question--the answer is that
> they're there, but they're paranoid about letting their presense being
> known and are on their way to exterminate us.

True enough, but he also unjustifiably assumes that most races figure out 
his laws BEFORE being found and exterminated. I find that as equally 
unlikely as the existence of said intelligent species anywhere near us in 
the first place. At the risk of anthropomorphizing, I fail to see how ANY 
species would arrive at such a conclusion prior to emitting at least some 
betraying EM signature.

Which leaves the alternative - they are exterminated before emitting such a 
signature. Since we haven't yet been eliminated ourselves, I find that 
unlikely as well.

All in all, I think that the MOST likely explanation is that for whatever 
reason, we are alone in our little pocket of the galaxy. I would however 
like to start another thread if someone would care to pick it up. The scope 
of project SETI is/was rather limited. It searched for radio waves which 
although a good indicator of civilization at our level of technology, is 
not necessarily what we should be looking out for.

What type of emissions would an ADVANCED civilization emit? How about 
neutrinos? Gravitons? Not only are these types of emissions almost a 
necessity for a spaceborne civilization, they are practically impossible to 
> The problem with this answer to Fermi's Paradox is that this isn't
> really a sensible answer at all.  If these aliens knew what they
> were doing, they'd have already wiped us out ages ago.  After all,
> they should _already_ have a presense in this solar system.
If they do, I'm not worried, we're still here.
> But you see, it doesn't make sense.  Yes, the aliens have the ability
> to wipe us out.  However, we do _not_ have the ability to wipe out
> the aliens.  Therefore, they do not have to choose between them and
> us.

That is what a pre-emptive strike is all about, wipe them out BEFORE they 
have the ability (much less the inclination) to wipe you out.

> Anyway, for an alien race to wait until we had developed the ability
> to speak in 3 word sentences, much less build Sony Walkmans and
> interplanetary rockets, they aren't doing their genocidal job very
> well.

Granted, but this still assumes that they are practically next door. There 
is no evidence of anything within fifteen or twenty light years, which 
cover a lot of stars. The only other possible explanation is again back to 
being so advanced that we can't even see them which loops back to we are 
still here and they _must_ know about us, so I'm not worried.
> The other two laws actually are debatable, but I prefer to take things
> one step at a time.  You can't really conclude much from the second two
> alone.
I agree that the other two laws are debatable, I certainly don't believe 
that either of them really apply to us. Pellegrino's point was however that 
they were LOGICAL, in which he is correct. Reality however does not always 
follow logic.
> As an aside, one of the most intriguing examples of being blinded by
> one's own experiences in science fiction, I've found, was in the
> Doctor Who story, "Genesis of the Daleks" (Doctor Who was a long
> running science fiction/fantasy TV series not noted for intellectual
> stimulation).  The creator of the Daleks, Davros, was born and lived
> at the grinding end of a thousand year long war of attrition between
> the Thals and the Kaleds.  Since this is all he ever knew, he assumed
> that peaceful coexistence of more than one race was inherently
> impossible, and that the only possible sort of existence was that
> of a master race above slave subject races.  Upon the discovery that
> there indeed existed life outside of his home planet of Scaro, he
> gave his Daleks the simple directive to become ultimate rulers of
> the universe.
> As far as science fiction villians go, the Daleks are pretty trite,
> but the story of their creator and his thinking is surprisingly
> thought-provoking.  (Originally, the Daleks were simply bad guys
> who were ugly creatures jealous of the beauty of the Thals.  Then
> they completely rewrote the story of their origin with "Genesis of
> the Daleks".)

He stole the plot from H. G. Wells...

> I point out this example because we're all to some degree or another
> blinded to possibilities outside our own experience.  I think
> Pellegrino's second law is an example of this--and not that far
> removed from Davros's problem.  The second law refers to "top dogs"
> not being "wimps".  It's actually not even clear what "top dog"
> exactly means.

Umm, were you aware that our beloved dolphins who are supposedly so 
intelligent and pacifistic are in reality aggressive and warlike? They 
exhibit tribal behavior and have been known to kill other dolphin species 
apparently for sport? Conceding that they are still mammals and not all 
that different from us compared to extraterrestrial type aliens, I still 
can't help but think that the laws of evolution as we currently understand 
them are pretty much going to apply no matter what species we are talking 
about. Competition for survival is probably a universal constant and the 
end result is predictable.

I'm not advocating that we "hunker down" and try to hide our emissions. 
Just that it would be better if we didn't automatically assume that 
intelligent civilizations were automatically pacifistic.