X-Message-Number: 11971
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 00:59:08 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Hyperants, aliens, immortality

Thomas Donaldson, #11964:

>It might help, Mike, if you can try to explain just WHY you think some
>kind of intelligence similar to ours is needed to do such things as
>space travel.

Probably it is not absolutely necessary. I can imagine an auto-piloted
spacecraft for instance, that some species has produced "by instinct"
without knowing what it was doing. It would not even have to be sentient at
all. A plant in theory could evolve into a device that automatically
generated spacecraft, radios or whatever you liked, being careful to limit
these to basically unintelligent devices, though that would not be precluded
either. There is no reason, in principle, why an insentient plant could not
produce a human baby just as they produce apples or coconuts. Anyway,
though, I just don't see the hyper-ant approach to space travel as being the
likely route. I don't think selection pressure would push in that direction.
Too much sophistication required. You would have to master a lot of physics
first, or get improbably lucky. BUT, even if hyperants did develop space
travel, that would not ipso facto make them *advanced, intelligent
creatures*. My main point in an earlier posting was that advanced,
intelligent creatures, if/when they do occur by whatever route, should be
able to understand suitably designed messages we send out. While this, it
may be objected, somewhat begs the question of what I mean by "advanced" or
"intelligent" I don't think it implies a circular argument. 

Communicable knowledge I think is reducible to forms of mathematics, and
this opens a door. (You disagree? Note that I'm not saying it has been
reduced to mathematics in all cases, just that I think it could be.) To be
advanced and intelligent, for example, would require some understanding of
integer arithmetic and the notions of set, variables, and quantification, so
that basic additional concepts could be defined. This would not take
understanding beyond our present level. From there I think you could proceed
to lay out your concepts and your messages. The smart aliens, with diligent
study, should understand. The possibility, whether we ever actually contact
any aliens or not, says something about the significance of information, and

indirectly, about our chances of achieving immortality, as I have argued before.

Mike Perry

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=11971