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FrankenPC On March - 5 - 2010

I recently saw a vid on why we haven’t encountered any signs of intelligent life in the universe.  I can’t cite any reference on the web regarding this information (sorry to say).  Hopefully one of the commenters can fill in the gaps.

Regardless, the gist of the vid was this:  The reason why we haven’t detected signs of (hyper) intelligent life is because they suffer the same problems we do:  planned organic obsolescence.  The vid referenced a concept that Ray Kurzweil had thrown forth: all universal life goes through a series of evolutionary stages.

* Stage 0: Biological evolution.  Chaos.  Where we are right now.

* Stage 1: Complete mastery of planetary energy

* Stage 2: Complete mastery of the solar system energy

* Stage 3: Complete mastery of galactic energy

* Stage4: Complete mastery of universal energy

Stage 1 is the most interesting to us as a species.  Mastery of planetary energy does not refer only to raw energy production.  It also refers to human capability.  In other words, if all humans suddenly began working in unison, destroyed all borders, and removed all racial/social constructs, what could we achieve?

In this theory, the reason we haven’t seen any signs of intelligent life is because all life in the universe suffers from the same inane issues we do: pettiness, greed, corruption, competition, and ignorance.  Just as the Romans, the British, The Mongols, Aztecs, Mayans, etc etc etc, we keep falling backwards.  We never reach the level of unity required to reach Stage 1.

Why can’t we, as a species, achieve stage 1?  Considering the awesome benefits which would be at our finger tips, why do we avoid transcendence with such vigor?  I suggest the reason may be that we are biologically motivated to not step beyond our self imposed boundaries.  It’s a very convenient way to keep the territories of animals in tact with nature.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of our own success.  Fear.  How do we rid ourselves of fear?

That is what I’ve been pondering.  How do we rid ourselves of, well, human nature?  Where do we attack the problem?  What exactly is the problem?  How do we achieve Stage 1?   Do we want to?  So many questions and no answers.

One thing is for sure, we have no direction.  We think from day to day while genus’s like Kurzweil see what we do not…hope.

16 Responses so far.

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  1. Chernynkaya says:

    Thank you so much, FrankinPC for introducing me to Kurzweil. I think I found the videos:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/ray_kurzweil_on_how_technology_will_transform_us.html

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6140406219828000794#

    I just finished watching the first one, and it is fascinating. BTW, I Wikied him and he certainly is a strange and brilliant guy!

    After watching the first vid: He talked about advances in biotech (among other things) and my first thought is that those advances will be taken over by the military/industrial complex to create super-soldiers-- we the people won’t benefit. These advances make it even MORE imperative that we put a stop to the exponential growth, not of technology, but of the corporate takeover of same!

    • FrankenPC says:

      Misdirection of energy is what keeps hobbling us as a species. Over and over we direct our energies outward instead of inward. Is it raw arrogance? Fear? What causes us to make these fundamental mistakes?

      Most importantly, if you saw that after 40 miles of hard road you could live in the halls of Valhalla, would you not bleed to get there knowing full well the treasures that await? We see that road and we have collectively decided to camp on the side of the road and play with our iPhones. If Satan is an allegory, then instant gratification is the gateway to the underworld. A horror of a diversion. I feel like we all are truly lost. So much potential just waiting. Waiting for what?

      • Chernynkaya says:

        Frankin-- although the verdict is out, my guess is that we are a failed species.

        • FrankenPC says:

          I think it’s a stamina thing. If we have the guts to keep trying, eventually we may stumble upon the answer.

          Although, I did get pretty depressed when I realized the great emancipator (the internet) was not going to free us through information availability as I had originally believed. Then again, the internet is a VERY young child. It’s impetuous, vain, callous…everything a young human is.

          Kurzweil’s most famous prediction is “Singularity”. The point where our technology becomes so powerful that AI is spontaneously born. Between communication and AI, maybe our technological achievements will offer us solutions to these problems that we are utterly incapable of finding ourselves.

          Hope is the only thing we have at this point. History paints a very bleak picture for us. On one hand we have the integrated circuit. On the other hand we have the bloodiest century humanity has ever seen. It’s like we are at a crossroads. Which way do we go.

  2. escribacat says:

    Love this post, FrankenPC. I think your answer was in your question — we are, after all, still mammals, with a basic nature that is quite primitive. Despite our intelligence.

  3. Mightywoof says:

    What a great post Franken!! Every time I contemplate the vastness and never-endingness of the universe I get the collywobbles ……. and then I go to my trusty Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. The thought of humankind, with all our greed, jealousy and fractiousness, finding ways to go beyond the stars and seeking other life just fills me with horror -- we’ve started enough wars on this planet without needing intergalactic ones. We have a long way to go before reaching stage 1 in our evolutionary progress and certainly won’t achieve it in my lifetime!

  4. KQuark says:

    Thanks for a great post that asks great questions. You have to remember as a species we are in of infancy. Humans are only about 200,000 years old as a species. While the oldest animal species are about 500,000,000 years old give or take. So if we can just survive long enough to get out of our terrible two’s as a species we might get past Stage 1 some day.

  5. choicelady says:

    I think this is where I have to say my head hurts. I find the universe and infinity fascinating but am too limited to wrap my mind around it. The notion that there are NOT other intelligent lives (beginning with the perhaps faulty belief we ARE intelligent) is simply unbelieveable. How could we be the ONLY ones in infinity? I also can’t accept that life has to be carbon based. I got a taste of my own possibilities when some science show focused on a weird tubular animal life that flourishes on the sea bottom near sulphur-spewing fissures and that can live ONLY on that sulphur, not on oxygen and our traditional bases for all other life. Well, if that exists in our own ocean, why not elsewhere?

    But if we met some form of life other than what was familiar (like the perfect English speakers that at least moderately appear human on all the ‘Star Trek’ episodes) would we even recognize it WAS alive and WAS intelligent? The musical tones of “Close Encounters” also presumes that intelligent life would recognize Pi and thus its mathematical formula AND music connected thereto. Why? We have no idea what would be the basis of intelligent thought in other worlds. Things undreamed of by us may be common to others, and vice versa.

    Well, we’re giving our best shot, but there may be no common denominators between human life and other forms.

    I am also more inclined to think of the possibility that we are surrounded by millions of planets -- all just too tiny for us to see. At the core of my wonderment lies the possibility that Dr. Seuss’s Horton found the answer -- other worlds are microscopic, not distant.

    At least that would justify my not dusting. Who’d want to be responsible for upsetting millions and millions of tiny worlds?

    • Kalima says:

      I too believe there is life on other planets and think that it’s narcissistic of us as humans to just dismiss it because we have yet to find it. As for humans being intelligent, I see less and less of that every day I walk this earth.

      😆 choicelady, today was my cleaning day, bearing in mind your last sentence, I have just destroyed tiny universe after universe by just flicking my wrists and charging around the house with my trusty Dyson cleaner. Knowing that by Monday morning it will all look as if I hadn’t done a thing, I don’t feel so bad. :)

      • KQuark says:

        Like Carl Sagan said and I paraphrase “if there is nobody else out there the universe is a waste of space”.

        • FrankenPC says:

          The question is not “is there other life in the universe”? The question is “are they as impotent as we are”?

          • KQuark says:

            I was replying to Kalima. My response to you is above.

            Time will tell and progress have been variable in our species but look 500 years in the past and 5,000 years before that. We are progressing. To say we are not progressing by looking at a snapshot of recent history is short sighted but even in 100 years our progress is amazing. It does not change the nature of our species that will set a ceiling on our progress but I can’t say we’ve come close to our potential yet.

            • FrankenPC says:

              It’s as if the technology is taking on a life of it’s own and holding us to a higher standard. Like how a bionic device can help an armless person pick something up.

        • Kalima says:

          I couldn’t agree more. :)

  6. Blues Tiger says:

    Perhaps we are limiting ourselves with notions that there is just one universe…

    • FrankenPC says:

      Actually, I’ve considered that quite a bit. It is entirely possible that this universal “thread” we are in is a dead end and time hasn’t caught up to us yet. We didn’t work. That idea has a pretty nihilistic ring to it.

      OTOH What if our universe is only as concrete and viable as we make it? What if the challenge for ALL universes is to overcome stage 0? That simple test determines if the meta-verse will allow our universe to proliferate.

      So many questions.


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