X-Message-Number: 13161
Date: Sat, 29 Jan 2000 19:29:44 -0500
From: gary tripp <>
Subject: Re: Rare Earth

Bill Walker writes:

>  Of course, if life were common, then advanced beings like Vogons would 
>easily evolve, create van Neuman machines that would kill everything else
>off by overprodcuing Vogon poetry, and life would be rare again. 

I suspect you're refering to John Von Neumann in your reference to
"van Neuman machines".

>But... every real civilization will create trillions of simulations within
>its computers, so simulated life will be abundant.
>I wonder how many levels down in the simulation we are?

This is what I've often wondered about. Considering the prospect of coding
information in the series of eigenfunctions which define an atoms state
and the enormous computational capacity of quantum computers (truly
instantaneous parallel computation) some future technology would have
enormous simulation power at its disposal. In fact this extraordinary power
may divert their attention inward and perhaps partially explain the apparent
absence of observable extraterrestrial life. I suspect that the nature of
their simulations would be highly abstract and closer to mathematics in
spirit. Their simulations may be similar to our studies on cellular 
automata where we've abstracted away all of the superfluous details that 
do not directly bear on the essential thrust of the research. In the case 
of John Von Neumann's automata research, the abstraction revolved around his
attempt to define the essence of the notion of reproduction.
However, we've moved well beyond this in our modern era.

The power to do immensely powerful simulations may obviate the need
for space exploration. 
However, from an emotional perspective, they must have a very different 
view of life from ours because many humans possess a burning desire to
explore the universe. I include myself in this camp too as I'm absolutely
smitten with the idea of space exploration. 

Note that we're being completely reckless in our assumptions here but at
least we're having fun.


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