Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Mathematically it seems that aliens are not as advanced as us.

Technology progresses exponentially.  As we gain better technology, the speed at which we can improve our technology becomes faster.  Over the first 200,000 or so years humans developed chariots, crossbows, catapults, aqueducts, etc.  In the next couple of hundred years (a thousandth of the time that humans have been around), we invented cars, television, space rockets, etc.  Over the next few years, we invented the internet, voice activated smart phones, self-driving cars, etc.  We're quickly heading towards the technological singularity.

For the future, the exponential trend means that we could advance as much as we did in the last ten years in the next five, which is mind blowing.  If the trend continues, it means that in about 2030, we could advance just as much in one year, and by 2040, we could have robots which can build better robots than themselves, leading to an infinite loop of improvement, and the singularity.  That is just if the trend continues at its current rate.  It may take longer, but it won't stop, and I'd be very surprised if it hasn't happened by 2060.

From then on the world could be very different to what it's like today.  We will have optimized everything that we can.  Our meat based bodies will be replaced by a more durable, efficient material.  Consciousness may even be generated by machines, meaning that even our minds wouldn't need to be meat based.  Our existence will probably be in a simulated world, or we could plug-in whenever we wish.

You may be skeptical, and say that my timelines are too short, and that won't happen for the next thousand years.  You'd be very wrong, but it doesn't matter :)  What matters is that it's a very short period of time relative to the age of the universe.  14 years is a billionth of the age of the universe, and 1,400 years is a ten millionth of the age of the universe.

So, hypothetically, if there was an alien race that was more advanced than us, it's very unlikely that they'd be just a little bit more advanced.  If they developed just 1 percent faster than us, they'd already be 10 million years ahead.  If we can get to the singularity in fifty years, then 10 million years is just mind-blowingly, ridiculous.

But I don't think they exist, and my reason is simple mathematics.  The goal of an advanced civilization would be to generate as many happy minds as possible.  They would not only use their technology to make their life forms as happy as possible, but they would also make as many life forms as possible.  The reason would be to increase the probability that one is a happy life form, and to generate as much happiness as possible before their universe ends (unless they've figured out that that won't happen, or found a way to prevent it).

Now, given the millions of years that they've had to do that, they should have had time to generate a few billion times the number of life forms that we have on planet Earth, making the probability of being a less advanced life form very, very small.

The next thought that comes to mind is, well, why would we be the most advanced?

Maybe it's just that simple, that no beings have ever reached the singularity, and we're going to be the first and most intelligent.

Alternatively, maybe no life form has ever survived the singularity.

Image credits:


Sunday, 12 February 2017

My Two Cents about Bad Presidents

To me there is one tiny positive element to presidents like Trump, Zuma and Mugabe getting into power:  It highlights the fact that the typical implementations of democracy are seriously flawed and can produce a great president for one term and an irrational, dangerous president in the next.  Even Hitler was apparently elected democratically.

So while we may wish for Trump, Zuma and Mugabe to be replaced, we don't have any assurances that the next leader won't be a Hitler, unless we actually change the system that brings them into power.  I'm no expert on politics, but I know a thing or two about systems, and this is the kind of system I'd like to see.