X-Message-Number: 21626
Date: Sat, 19 Apr 2003 12:49:36 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Singularity Further Comments

In # 21615 I wrote in part

>I don't see this "end product" as "inescapable" because I think
>  "replication" is being over-emphasized. Replication means creating others
>  like yourself. Advanced beings, I submit, will not do this. They may create
>  new sentient beings, and those beings will no doubt bear certain
>  similarities to their creators, but a close resemblance, such as exists
>  presently between biological life forms and their offspring, does not
>  necessarily follow.

and Keith Henson in #21617 responded in part:

>True, but if life forms with Singularity powers are common, then *all* of
>them have to restrain replication for the observed wild state of the
>universe to exist. Way back in the late 70s when Eric Drexler realized the
>consequences of nanotechnology he dug into a catalog of unusual
>galaxies. He was looking for ones being dimmed (in visible light) by an
>expanding wave front of nanotech capable life forms. He didn't find any.
>To put bluntly, if technophilic life is common, none of them survive their
>local Singularity.

Actually, I happen to think technophilic life is probably uncommon, and 
even quite possibly unique--we may be the only such life in our universe. 
However, I also think that the likelihood that advanced forms would turn 
rapacious is very small, in keeping with their not being stupid or 
unenlightened, so it could well be that very many could exist and all of 
them would exercise the necessary restraint. Also, an occasional rogue 
civilization that did turn rapacious might be stopped by others before it 
got too powerful, if there were many others around. (Is this unlikely? 
Consider that advanced civilizations should be able to estimate the 
likelihood that a rogue civilization might one day arrive on their doorstep 
and attack with overwhelming force. One would expect that advanced 
civilizations in general would carefully consider this problem and maybe 
work out many possible coping strategies over millions of years. Is it 
likely that one rogue civilization could defeat all the coping strategies, 
including civilizations forming confederations for mutual protection? If 
the civilizations in question were common, I don't think so.) On the other 
hand, though, if civilizations were common in the universe, one might 
expect to see at least *some* evidence of them, which we haven't found. So 
again I don't think they are common. The absence of evidence of them 
probably means, simply, that they are uncommon (that is to say, it can be 
taken as evidence of absence) rather than that they do appear frequently 
but quickly self-destruct. Self-destruction would surely leave some 
detectable traces, one would think. It isn't ruled out, of course, that 
civilizations are in fact common but adopt various concealment strategies 
with almost perfect uniformity--but this kind of argument seems to fly in 
the face of Occam's razor.

Mike Perry

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=21626