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Old 08-29-2011, 08:26 PM
T.G.G.P T.G.G.P is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 278
Default Re: Science Saturday: Xenopsychology 101 (Daniel Foster & Jacob Haqq-Misra)

Jacob mentions Easter Island as an example of a place undone by its own exponential growth. But there is evidence that it's downfall was homicide, not suicide.

Robin Hanson says the logic of evolution leads us to predict a future universe dominated by replicating machines which consume all available resources in a "cosmic wildfire", unless an effective universal totalitarian government ("singleton") stops it. Those who refrain from maximally exploiting available resources will find themselves left in the dust (or should I say "gray goo"). But cosmic coordination is very hard, so there will always be the danger that some civilization will pass a threshold where they can start wiping out others before they cross the the same threshold and become dangerous. In that situation each civilization will want to keep quiet before then to avoid such a fate.

Jacob puts a lot of emphasis on "long-lived" civlization. But shouldn't it be the multiplicative product of space-and-time-extension that matters for encounter probability?

I haven't gotten to the "will aliens be liberal" part yet, but Karl Smith says no. Unfortunately, he's rather cryptic. If you've clicked some of my links above, you won't be surprised by my guess as to what he's referring to.

I didn't wait for Jacob to respond to Dan's question, but what is discussion of the relatively valuability of humanity vs other civilizations doing in a science paper? That's a normative question. Or is there a policy recommendation as to whether we should wipe out other civilizations?

There is a limit to growth: when we have exhausted all useful knowledge.

I'm going to say we are vastly under our carrying capacity. We can pack people into cities, making more efficient use of space. We can collect far more solar energy than we are currently doing, we can synthesize our food to make it more efficiently than eating other organisms who have evolved to do things other than merely be eaten by us, and of course we can upload our brains into tiny robots.

Malthus himself encouraged people to delay marriage to avoid natural checks on population growth. The rate of illegitimacy was remarkably low back then, so delayed marriage meant fewer children (particularly among the poor) rather than out-of-wedlock births (see Greg Clark, "A Farewell to Alms"). And considering the lack of birth control, it just goes to show that "They can't help themselves, don't bother trying to discourage folks from having sex" arguments are bogus, at least if they're not restricted to modern societies where the institutions of moral sanction have been virtually destroyed, thanks in significant part to the kind of folks who make the argument mocked here. Whether that outcome is a good or bad thing is entirely subjective, of course.

Last edited by T.G.G.P; 08-29-2011 at 09:06 PM..
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