Re: poly: Von Neuman Culture density functions(was: Is our lightcone is uninhabited except for us?)

From: Perry E. Metzger <>
Date: Mon Dec 15 1997 - 21:04:19 PST

James Rogers writes:
> I am not so certain that we necessarily should have been crossed by a sub-c
> Von Neuman culture. We don't have the slightest idea of what the
> distribution of such cultures should be, but this information is necessary
> to make such a calculation.

I doubt it.

Consider our own culture a few hundred years from now at most. Given
nanotechnology, any individual member could launch Von Neuman machines
that travelled out in all directions at near the speed of
light. Anything that requires so few members of a culture to launch
will almost doubtless *BE* launched. With billions of individual
entities, what are the odds that no one will do such a thing?

I doubt other cultures would be so different as to not do such a
thing. Sure, most individuals might have self restraint, but just a
few doing otherwise would make the world a different place. In the
unlikely event that no individual member of a particular other culture
doesn't do such a thing, I'd say that given two or three cultures out
there the odds of none of them doing such a thing are vanishingly
small. From an evolutionary standpoint the Von Neuman machines "win"
after all -- they rapidly fill space.

Given this, I find the idea that there might be advanced cultures in
our light cone that have not sent Von Neuman machines in our direction
exceptionally unlikely. Its possible -- I would never call it
impossible -- but it is not likely.

Received on Tue Dec 16 04:56:26 1997

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