Re: poly: Malign Probes

From: Robin Hanson <>
Date: Tue Jan 27 1998 - 09:15:32 PST

Peter M. wrote:
>>If life could drasically rework its own system without appearing to
>>threaten to expand, then this scenario doesn't account for the
>>observed appearance of the universe. One of the main points of the
>>malign probes scenario, as I understood it, was to account for the
>>observed apparently lifeless universe by saying life is there but hiding.
>I don't understand what signs of life you would expect we could see
>outside our solar system under my hypothesis. The criteria I had in
>mind for the probes to use for "threatening" range from "anything visibly
>less natural than rock when seen from orbit" to "sending artificial objects
>off the planetary surface"; these don't seem to produce civilizations
>conspicuous enough that we would expect to detect them yet. (They do,
>of course, imply that it is odd that our planet hasn't been sterilized).

Before you had hypothesized that life was so dense that aggressive probe
reproduction was a bad strategy. This requires not only that each system
have some life in it, but that it control most of the resources in that
system. Being able to detect and intercept an incoming colonization probe,
so that such a probe has an extremely low chance of substantially reproducing,
seems incompatible to me to your other hypothesis that life hides under
rocks for fear that anything else will be interpreted as an attempt to
expand beyond the system.

Perhaps if I've misunderstood your proposed scenario, you could lay it out in
more detail. I'm getting tired of guessing what you have in mind.

Robin Hanson
RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-8614
Received on Tue Jan 27 17:19:30 1998

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