ISF Logo   IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Skeptical Podcasts » SETI
 


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Reply
Old 19th February 2015, 04:57 AM   #1
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 24,646
Debate over sending messages to ETs heats up

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/space...n-seti-n305546


http://m.bbc.com/news/science-environment-31442952


Some people seem to think this is a bad idea. I doubt it would work. But it I'm in favor of it anyway because I think the fears are overblown.

But then there's technical questions too. Would our signal even be powerful enough to be detected? Let's assume that aliens are out there and they have their own SETI program. Let's assume their radio telescopes are just as powerful as our own but not more powerful. Could a signal even be detected at those distances?
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th February 2015, 05:00 AM   #2
Gawdzilla Sama
121.92-meter mutant fire-breathing lizard-thingy
 
Gawdzilla Sama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Northern St. Louis County, Missouri.
Posts: 42,180
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
http://www.nbcnews.com/science/space...n-seti-n305546


http://m.bbc.com/news/science-environment-31442952


Some people seem to think this is a bad idea. I doubt it would work. But it I'm in favor of it anyway because I think the fears are overblown.

But then there's technical questions too. Would our signal even be powerful enough to be detected? Let's assume that aliens are out there and they have their own SETI program. Let's assume their radio telescopes are just as powerful as our own but not more powerful. Could a signal even be detected at those distances?
The amazing thing would be that we would have equivalent technologies. To use a crude example, how many of you can read smoke signals?
__________________
Guns that are instantly available for use are instantly available for misuse.
World War II Diplomatic and Political Resources
Hyperwar, WWII Military History
Buying conspiracy books is a voluntary tax on stupid.
Gawdzilla Sama is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th February 2015, 07:37 AM   #3
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 24,646
Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
The amazing thing would be that we would have equivalent technologies. To use a crude example, how many of you can read smoke signals?
I didn't mean to imply that it's likely that we would have equivalent technologies, just that we don't really know what's possible beyond we have achieved so far and things that are realistically foreseeable in the near future. Many people probably think that technology will keep advancing at the same pace or faster and the future will be like Star Trek, but I have my doubts about that. What if there's a technology plateau ahead of us and we never do get to Star Trek?

We happen to live in an era of rapidly changing technology. Our grandparents might have been born before there were airplanes and the 20th century saw huge advances between the beginning and the ends, but it wasn't always thus. There were centuries in the past where technology at the end of the century was barely distinguishable from that at the beginning. Sometimes it even seemed to go backwards due to wars and plagues and famines and the fall of empires.
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th February 2015, 07:49 AM   #4
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 24,646
Another reason I have doubts that ETs might pose a danger to us is the Fermi paradox: if there are ETs out there who want to conquer planets like Earth, and they have the technology to come here, then why aren't they already here? I think it's likely that interstellar travel poses such a huge problem, that no species native to one star system is likely to pose a threat to one from a different star system. IOW, no species ever makes it to Star Trek. If there happened to be two species on different planets in the same solar system, say Mars and Earth, one could conceivably pose a threat to the other as warp drive isn't necessary.
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th February 2015, 08:21 AM   #5
Gawdzilla Sama
121.92-meter mutant fire-breathing lizard-thingy
 
Gawdzilla Sama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Northern St. Louis County, Missouri.
Posts: 42,180
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I didn't mean to imply that it's likely that we would have equivalent technologies, just that we don't really know what's possible beyond we have achieved so far and things that are realistically foreseeable in the near future. Many people probably think that technology will keep advancing at the same pace or faster and the future will be like Star Trek, but I have my doubts about that. What if there's a technology plateau ahead of us and we never do get to Star Trek?
I wasn't challenging you, just pointing out that the congruence of technologies is highly unlikely.
Quote:
We happen to live in an era of rapidly changing technology. Our grandparents might have been born before there were airplanes and the 20th century saw huge advances between the beginning and the ends, but it wasn't always thus. There were centuries in the past where technology at the end of the century was barely distinguishable from that at the beginning. Sometimes it even seemed to go backwards due to wars and plagues and famines and the fall of empires.
Yeah, I said that.
__________________
Guns that are instantly available for use are instantly available for misuse.
World War II Diplomatic and Political Resources
Hyperwar, WWII Military History
Buying conspiracy books is a voluntary tax on stupid.
Gawdzilla Sama is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th February 2015, 08:22 AM   #6
Gawdzilla Sama
121.92-meter mutant fire-breathing lizard-thingy
 
Gawdzilla Sama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Northern St. Louis County, Missouri.
Posts: 42,180
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Another reason I have doubts that ETs might pose a danger to us is the Fermi paradox: if there are ETs out there who want to conquer planets like Earth, and they have the technology to come here, then why aren't they already here? I think it's likely that interstellar travel poses such a huge problem, that no species native to one star system is likely to pose a threat to one from a different star system. IOW, no species ever makes it to Star Trek. If there happened to be two species on different planets in the same solar system, say Mars and Earth, one could conceivably pose a threat to the other as warp drive isn't necessary.
The Fermi paradox supposes that aliens are close enough to come here. Not at all likely from what I've learned.
__________________
Guns that are instantly available for use are instantly available for misuse.
World War II Diplomatic and Political Resources
Hyperwar, WWII Military History
Buying conspiracy books is a voluntary tax on stupid.
Gawdzilla Sama is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th February 2015, 01:14 PM   #7
Craig B
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 22,833
Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
The Fermi paradox supposes that aliens are close enough to come here. Not at all likely from what I've learned.
They are by definition close enough if they have had billions of years to occupy the whole galaxy. But they haven't. Also, not necessarily come here. The paradox arises if we could detect their presence but we don't, eg by overhearing their signals. No trace of that either.
Craig B is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th February 2015, 08:28 PM   #8
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 24,646
So just to review the Fermi Paradox:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox

Quote:
The Fermi paradox (or Fermi's paradox) is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilization and humanity's lack of contact with, or evidence for, such civilizations.[1] The basic points of the argument, made by physicists Enrico Fermi and Michael H. Hart, are:
  • The Sun is a typical star, and relatively young. There are billions of stars in the galaxy that are billions of years older.
  • With high probability, some of these stars will have Earth-like planets.[2] Assuming the Earth is typical, some of these planets may develop intelligent life.
  • Some of these civilizations may develop interstellar travel, a technology Earth is investigating even now (such as the 100 Year Starship).
  • Even at the slow pace of currently envisioned interstellar travel, the galaxy can be completely colonized in a few tens of millions of years.

According to this line of thinking, the Earth should already have been colonized, or at least visited. But Fermi saw no convincing evidence of this, nor of signs of intelligence (see Empirical resolution attempts) elsewhere in our galaxy or (to the extent it would be detectable) elsewhere in the observable universe. Hence Fermi's question, "Where is everybody?"[3]
The third point there seems like a very likely candidate for the problem: interstellar travel is much harder than we imagine it to be. There are all kinds of problems with it. Even if we are only talking about robotic probes. If you want to send people, the problems get even more difficult by orders of magnitude.

But supposing a civilization could overcome the hurdles, would a civilization that advanced be likely to be hostile? I think more advanced human civilization becomes, the more moral we become on average. Stephen Pinker has written on this. I'm guessing the same would probably hold true for aliens.
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th February 2015, 09:00 PM   #9
MG1962
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 17,252
Well the question is, if ET wants to invade us, whats in it for ET. There is absolutely nothing on Earth that can not be gained in vast quantities in space, without messing with gravity wells, orbital mechanics and pesky rootin tootin humans in the way
MG1962 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th February 2015, 11:00 PM   #10
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 24,646
Originally Posted by MG1962 View Post
Well the question is, if ET wants to invade us, whats in it for ET. There is absolutely nothing on Earth that can not be gained in vast quantities in space, without messing with gravity wells, orbital mechanics and pesky rootin tootin humans in the way
Well, I think there is plenty here that is useful if you happen to breathe oxygen and eat things similar to we do. The same reasons I suppose why we would want to find another planet to colonize if it had an environment that suits our particular needs.
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 20th February 2015, 04:27 AM   #11
Gawdzilla Sama
121.92-meter mutant fire-breathing lizard-thingy
 
Gawdzilla Sama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Northern St. Louis County, Missouri.
Posts: 42,180
Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
They are by definition close enough if they have had billions of years to occupy the whole galaxy. But they haven't. Also, not necessarily come here. The paradox arises if we could detect their presence but we don't, eg by overhearing their signals. No trace of that either.
Why is it a necessity to occupy the whole galaxy? And why would they be in THIS galaxy anyway? Artificial constraints won't make Fermi's mistake smell any better.
__________________
Guns that are instantly available for use are instantly available for misuse.
World War II Diplomatic and Political Resources
Hyperwar, WWII Military History
Buying conspiracy books is a voluntary tax on stupid.
Gawdzilla Sama is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 20th February 2015, 04:29 AM   #12
Gawdzilla Sama
121.92-meter mutant fire-breathing lizard-thingy
 
Gawdzilla Sama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Northern St. Louis County, Missouri.
Posts: 42,180
Originally Posted by MG1962 View Post
Well the question is, if ET wants to invade us, whats in it for ET. There is absolutely nothing on Earth that can not be gained in vast quantities in space, without messing with gravity wells, orbital mechanics and pesky rootin tootin humans in the way
Except the annual Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Edition.
__________________
Guns that are instantly available for use are instantly available for misuse.
World War II Diplomatic and Political Resources
Hyperwar, WWII Military History
Buying conspiracy books is a voluntary tax on stupid.
Gawdzilla Sama is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 20th February 2015, 05:55 AM   #13
MG1962
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 17,252
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Well, I think there is plenty here that is useful if you happen to breathe oxygen and eat things similar to we do. The same reasons I suppose why we would want to find another planet to colonize if it had an environment that suits our particular needs.
And if we had to deal with an intelligent population that had something even like post industrial revolution technology. Colonisation is about resources, if it cost you more to gain those resources than getting them somewhere else, why would you bother?
MG1962 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 20th February 2015, 05:57 AM   #14
MG1962
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 17,252
Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
Except the annual Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Edition.
I am sure the governments of Earth could arrange a digital subscription for any ET genuinely interested
MG1962 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 20th February 2015, 06:02 AM   #15
MG1962
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 17,252
Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
Why is it a necessity to occupy the whole galaxy? And why would they be in THIS galaxy anyway? Artificial constraints won't make Fermi's mistake smell any better.
I dont feel Fermi's paradox is a mistake. One of the subtext of the concept is we should at least be somehow aware of nearby civilizations. One of the things that has sparked debate in astronomy circles is the question why is the universe so quiet. Based on Earths experience if there were aliens out there, the electromagnetic spectrum should be almost jammed with artificial signals.
MG1962 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 20th February 2015, 06:13 AM   #16
Gawdzilla Sama
121.92-meter mutant fire-breathing lizard-thingy
 
Gawdzilla Sama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Northern St. Louis County, Missouri.
Posts: 42,180
Originally Posted by MG1962 View Post
I dont feel Fermi's paradox is a mistake. One of the subtext of the concept is we should at least be somehow aware of nearby civilizations. One of the things that has sparked debate in astronomy circles is the question why is the universe so quiet. Based on Earths experience if there were aliens out there, the electromagnetic spectrum should be almost jammed with artificial signals.
My point is "if they exist" requires them to be near by. I fail to see why.
__________________
Guns that are instantly available for use are instantly available for misuse.
World War II Diplomatic and Political Resources
Hyperwar, WWII Military History
Buying conspiracy books is a voluntary tax on stupid.
Gawdzilla Sama is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 20th February 2015, 06:34 AM   #17
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 24,646
Originally Posted by MG1962 View Post
I dont feel Fermi's paradox is a mistake. One of the subtext of the concept is we should at least be somehow aware of nearby civilizations. One of the things that has sparked debate in astronomy circles is the question why is the universe so quiet. Based on Earths experience if there were aliens out there, the electromagnetic spectrum should be almost jammed with artificial signals.
At distances greater than a light year wouldn't those artificial signals be lost in the noise?
That's my theory anyway. We just don't have equipment sensitive enough to detect those signals even if they do exist. Because the distances are too great.
Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
My point is "if they exist" requires them to be near by. I fail to see why.
Nothing is near by really. Even the closest star is mind-bogglingly far away. I bet if a civilization just like our own existed there, we would be unable to detect it. Even at a "mere" 4 light years distance (which is actually a ginormous distance).
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 20th February 2015, 06:43 AM   #18
MG1962
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 17,252
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
At distances greater than a light year wouldn't those artificial signals be lost in the noise?
That's my theory anyway. We just don't have equipment sensitive enough to detect those signals even if they do exist. Because the distances are too great.
The common benchmark for regular radio transmissions such as Earth produces is out to about 5000 cubic light years. In certain circumstances the distance can be greatly increased by the location of the signal being broadcast
MG1962 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 20th February 2015, 06:44 AM   #19
MG1962
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 17,252
Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
My point is "if they exist" requires them to be near by. I fail to see why.
I am not sure I am following your point
MG1962 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st February 2015, 09:08 PM   #20
steve s
Philosopher
 
steve s's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 5,865
Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
The amazing thing would be that we would have equivalent technologies. To use a crude example, how many of you can read smoke signals?
Radio waves exist throughout the universe. Any technological society will eventually discover that visible light is just one small part of a larger spectrum, with radio waves being part of that. They'll also discover that radio waves are very good for interstellar communication because they can pass through dust clouds without being scattered.

It's possible they may find something that's better than radio waves, but if they're intent on finding other civilizations, they will hopefully remember that less advanced societies may still be using radio, and they'll keep an ear open in those frequencies.

Steve S
__________________
"Nature abhors a moron." -- H. L. Mencken
steve s is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st February 2015, 09:28 PM   #21
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 24,646
Originally Posted by MG1962 View Post
The common benchmark for regular radio transmissions such as Earth produces is out to about 5000 cubic light years. In certain circumstances the distance can be greatly increased by the location of the signal being broadcast
Are you saying that if there were another civilization like our own within 5000 cubic light years that we would have already detected it?

One thing that confuses me is, if these planets are too small (too far away) to see directly even with our most powerful telescope, how could we discern radio signals from the same planets?
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd February 2015, 02:38 AM   #22
Craig B
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 22,833
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
One thing that confuses me is, if these planets are too small (too far away) to see directly even with our most powerful telescope, how could we discern radio signals from the same planets?
The planets simply reflect a part of the light they receive from their star. Radio signals are generated specifically for the purpose of bring detected.
Craig B is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd February 2015, 08:42 AM   #23
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 24,646
After thinking about it, yeah, I guess radio signals must be easier to detect, but I did the math and 5000 cubic light years is only a sphere with a radius less than 11 light years. Not many stars within that radius, and even fewer that resemble our own sun or solar system. Alpha Centauri is a binary (or triple if you count Proxima), which probably makes it an unlikely candidate for life. And all of the others (within that radius) also seem to be poor candidates for life for one reason or another (mostly they are red dwarfs).
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd February 2015, 05:10 PM   #24
MG1962
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 17,252
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post

One thing that confuses me is, if these planets are too small (too far away) to see directly even with our most powerful telescope, how could we discern radio signals from the same planets?
They look for anything that does not sound natural. Something like a repeating pattern, something that does not sound like the normal noise we hear in space.

An example was the detection of the first pulsar. Unofficially it was named LGM 1 (Little Green Men) It was only after they discovered a second such signal that the realization was that we were dealing with a unknown stellar phenomena rather Little Green Men chatting
MG1962 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th February 2015, 01:05 AM   #25
Jango
Graduate Poster
 
Jango's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: United States of America
Posts: 1,688
The way you phrased that doesn't make much sense. They heard the first noise and thought Little Green Men. They hear the noise a second time but don't think about Little Green Men, but decide it is "unknown stellar phenomena". That's quite the switcheroo.
Jango is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th February 2015, 01:55 AM   #26
Hlafordlaes
Disorder of Kilopi
 
Hlafordlaes's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: State of Flux
Posts: 11,788
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
But supposing a civilization could overcome the hurdles, would a civilization that advanced be likely to be hostile? I think more advanced human civilization becomes, the more moral we become on average. Stephen Pinker has written on this. I'm guessing the same would probably hold true for aliens.
Pinker's work refers to evolving customs among humans. Our mistreatment of non-humans (animals) is legendary, sweeping, and scarcely given second thought. They are inferior, we rule, end of story. Our violence does not cease and finds few bounds.

We would be in great danger if a human analog showed up. And given that top dogs in evolution tend to be predators, with access to meat to fuel large brains, I'm guessing a human or raptor analog is what we'd get. Machines, on the other hand, may never experience empathy, either, never find a need to wonder if the means justifies the ends, and possibly classify advanced life as exclusively non-biological.
Hlafordlaes is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th February 2015, 11:01 AM   #27
Steve
Philosopher
 
Steve's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 6,694
Originally Posted by steve s View Post
Radio waves exist throughout the universe. Any technological society will eventually discover that visible light is just one small part of a larger spectrum, with radio waves being part of that. They'll also discover that radio waves are very good for interstellar communication because they can pass through dust clouds without being scattered.

It's possible they may find something that's better than radio waves, but if they're intent on finding other civilizations, they will hopefully remember that less advanced societies may still be using radio, and they'll keep an ear open in those frequencies.

Steve S
There is no reaspon to think that an alien society will utilize visible light the same way we do. Maybe they would "see" in IR or UV, and only later discover that "visible light" is a part of the larger spectrum.
__________________
Caption from and old New Yorker cartoon - Why am I shouting? Because I'm wrong!"
Steve is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th February 2015, 11:38 PM   #28
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 24,646
Originally Posted by Hlafordlaes View Post
Pinker's work refers to evolving customs among humans. Our mistreatment of non-humans (animals) is legendary, sweeping, and scarcely given second thought. They are inferior, we rule, end of story. Our violence does not cease and finds few bounds.

We would be in great danger if a human analog showed up. And given that top dogs in evolution tend to be predators, with access to meat to fuel large brains, I'm guessing a human or raptor analog is what we'd get. Machines, on the other hand, may never experience empathy, either, never find a need to wonder if the means justifies the ends, and possibly classify advanced life as exclusively non-biological.
But as we have become more civilized and technologically advanced, we have started to begin to give some consideration to non-humans. Such ideas as endangered species that should be protected, laws against cruelty to animals and setting aside nature preserves as habitats for other species have begun to be embraced in more technologically advanced societies.

Anyway, do you think our attitude to intelligent aliens with some level of civilization and culture comparable to our own or something from our earlier history wouldn't be different than our attitude toward, say, tuna fish or cows? I would think it would be much different.
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th February 2015, 12:01 AM   #29
dasmiller
Just the right amount of cowbell
 
dasmiller's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Well past Hither, looking for Yon
Posts: 6,249
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
There is no reaspon to think that an alien society will utilize visible light the same way we do. Maybe they would "see" in IR or UV, and only later discover that "visible light" is a part of the larger spectrum.
But the argument still applies if they're starting with UV or IR rather than Visible. It's all EM; they're bound to discover the broader EM spectrum.

The challenge would be aliens that aren't directly sensing EM at all. Some species are completely blind. I'm not sure how well their science could progress and I think it's a subject worth its own thread.

On the other hand, there are species that can directly detect weak electric impulses. One wonders if such a species would invent radio before, say, smelting. Perhaps they'd be amazed that humans ever discovered electricity at all.
__________________
"In times of war, we need warriors. But this isn't a war." - Phil Plaitt
dasmiller is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th February 2015, 06:34 AM   #30
Hlafordlaes
Disorder of Kilopi
 
Hlafordlaes's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: State of Flux
Posts: 11,788
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
But as we have become more civilized and technologically advanced, we have started to begin to give some consideration to non-humans. Such ideas as endangered species that should be protected, laws against cruelty to animals and setting aside nature preserves as habitats for other species have begun to be embraced in more technologically advanced societies.
It's a start, granted.

Quote:
Anyway, do you think our attitude to intelligent aliens with some level of civilization and culture comparable to our own or something from our earlier history wouldn't be different than our attitude toward, say, tuna fish or cows? I would think it would be much different.
No, not if there is an obvious culture and we can communicate with it. However, it is far more likely to either find planets that are comparatively far behind or well ahead on the intelligence front. In the first case, they should be wary of human hubris; in the second, we are in for possible nastiness.

The point being that encounters are more likely to be mismatches, and these, judging from our experience, turn out poorly.
Hlafordlaes is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th February 2015, 06:36 AM   #31
Gawdzilla Sama
121.92-meter mutant fire-breathing lizard-thingy
 
Gawdzilla Sama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Northern St. Louis County, Missouri.
Posts: 42,180
Originally Posted by MG1962 View Post
I am not sure I am following your point
If alien civilizations, by some odd quirk, exist right now, and they're on the other side of the known universe, why would we know about them? "Why aren't they here" requires that they can get here. That's unlikely.
__________________
Guns that are instantly available for use are instantly available for misuse.
World War II Diplomatic and Political Resources
Hyperwar, WWII Military History
Buying conspiracy books is a voluntary tax on stupid.
Gawdzilla Sama is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th February 2015, 07:59 AM   #32
Bikewer
Penultimate Amazing
 
Bikewer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: St. Louis, Mo.
Posts: 12,620
Greg Bear's "Forge/Anvil" books (Forge of God, Anvil of Stars) explores this from an interesting perspective. An advanced civilization decides that ANY technological race is a potential threat, so it goes about eliminating threats.
They do this by way of advanced Von Neumann machines...Self-replicating devices which literally destroy planets.
The universe is quiet because "the birds in the forest don't sing when the hawk is around."

The "Planet Killers" don't need resources or territory, they can do planetary engineering on a massive scale.
The first book is about the destruction of the Earth. The second about the ethics of revenge.....
Bikewer is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 1st March 2015, 02:31 AM   #33
cullennz
Embarrasingly illiterate
 
cullennz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 18,216
They might just think. "That lot are boring", and keep watching "Two and a half drogionysms "
__________________
I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today’s Internet technology we should be able to tell within 72-hours if a potential gun owner has a record.

Source: The America We Deserve, by Donald Trump, p.102 , Jul 2, 2000
cullennz is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 2nd March 2015, 12:42 PM   #34
Giz
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,653
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
But as we have become more civilized and technologically advanced, we have started to begin to give some consideration to non-humans. Such ideas as endangered species that should be protected, laws against cruelty to animals and setting aside nature preserves as habitats for other species have begun to be embraced in more technologically advanced societies.

Anyway, do you think our attitude to intelligent aliens with some level of civilization and culture comparable to our own or something from our earlier history wouldn't be different than our attitude toward, say, tuna fish or cows? I would think it would be much different.
Maybe.

But the evolutionary argument (intelligent life is likely to be: Predatory & Expansionist) shouldn't be ignored.

Also, you assume that liberal democracy and human rights will (a) be our planet's endgame, (b) will also be any other planets endgame. i.e. There will never be a planet where the inquisition, or the Nazis or communists 'win'?
Giz is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 2nd March 2015, 01:18 PM   #35
The Atheist
The Grammar Tyrant
 
The Atheist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 23,696
Originally Posted by MG1962 View Post
Well the question is, if ET wants to invade us, whats in it for ET.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6dXsjKcA9I
__________________
The point of equilibrium has passed; satire and current events are now indistinguishable.
The Atheist is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 3rd March 2015, 07:23 PM   #36
Wolfman
Chief Solipsistic
Autosycophant
 
Wolfman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 13,291
My passion is studying culture, something I've been specializing in for years (and have served as a cross-cultural consultant to multinational companies in China for almost two decades now). It is amazing, given our shared genetic and evolutionary heritage, just how much cultural diversity there is on our planet. Compare the effects of the caste system in India with egalitarian attitudes in Canada, for example.

Now, consider aliens with a completely different genetic and evolutionary heritage. The problem here is that people seem to assume that aliens may not look like us, but will still largely share our psychological motivations and ethical values.

Not necessarily. Some examples:

* Consider a race that evolved from an animal that has litters of many children. Early in their evolution, they faced a very hostile environment, with 80% of their offspring being killed, so large litters (10-12) were necessary for survival. But as they evolved, and gained greater intelligence, they were able to increase survival rates, as well. However, that would lead to rapid overpopulation and depletion of resources. In order to combat this, their culture developed a principle that once children reach the age of 1-2 years old, all but the two or three strongest are killed. Evolution could select in a direction where real 'bonding' didn't take place until later in a child's life, so there would be little sorrow or moral upset over this...in fact, in their culture, it could easily be seen as more morally abhorrent to let all the kids live, as that would selfishly lead to rapid overpopulation and destruction of natural resources. (I actually wrote a short sci-fi story based on this idea many years ago)

* Or consider a race in which, like some species of animals, there are different 'ranks' of that species that is defined at a genetic level. That is, some are genetically pre-defined as warriors (strong, fast, but not very intelligent, and instinctively obedient), laborers, leaders, etc. These are not culturally defined, but genetically defined -- that is, there are very distinct genetic differences (physically, intellectually, etc.) between the different groups.

To them, a caste system wouldn't just be normal, it would be necessary. Their laborers would lack the intellectual capacity to be leaders; their leaders would lack the physical strength to be warriors; etc. To them, a rigid stratification of society would be normal.

Now -- consider the ramifications if aliens such as this encountered humans. The moral and psychological barriers that might prohibit us from wholesale slaughter or enslavement of an intelligent alien race would be largely non-existent in these aliens.

The question of how common intelligent life is, and whether or not interstellar travel/colonization could ever be feasible, are both open questions to me, and are fascinating to consider. But I do agree with those who say that assuming that actual contact with an alien culture would be peaceful, based on the principle that an advanced technological culture must also share our moral/ethical values, is naive and most likely not true.
__________________
Please check out my business, The Language of Culture
Wolfman is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 3rd March 2015, 09:54 PM   #37
rjh01
Gentleman of leisure
Tagger
 
rjh01's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Flying around in the sky
Posts: 25,333
Originally Posted by Wolfman View Post
My passion is studying culture, something I've been specializing in for years (and have served as a cross-cultural consultant to multinational companies in China for almost two decades now). It is amazing, given our shared genetic and evolutionary heritage, just how much cultural diversity there is on our planet. Compare the effects of the caste system in India with egalitarian attitudes in Canada, for example.

Now, consider aliens with a completely different genetic and evolutionary heritage. The problem here is that people seem to assume that aliens may not look like us, but will still largely share our psychological motivations and ethical values.

Not necessarily. Some examples:

* Consider a race that evolved from an animal that has litters of many children. Early in their evolution, they faced a very hostile environment, with 80% of their offspring being killed, so large litters (10-12) were necessary for survival. But as they evolved, and gained greater intelligence, they were able to increase survival rates, as well. However, that would lead to rapid overpopulation and depletion of resources. In order to combat this, their culture developed a principle that once children reach the age of 1-2 years old, all but the two or three strongest are killed. Evolution could select in a direction where real 'bonding' didn't take place until later in a child's life, so there would be little sorrow or moral upset over this...in fact, in their culture, it could easily be seen as more morally abhorrent to let all the kids live, as that would selfishly lead to rapid overpopulation and destruction of natural resources. (I actually wrote a short sci-fi story based on this idea many years ago)

* Or consider a race in which, like some species of animals, there are different 'ranks' of that species that is defined at a genetic level. That is, some are genetically pre-defined as warriors (strong, fast, but not very intelligent, and instinctively obedient), laborers, leaders, etc. These are not culturally defined, but genetically defined -- that is, there are very distinct genetic differences (physically, intellectually, etc.) between the different groups.

To them, a caste system wouldn't just be normal, it would be necessary. Their laborers would lack the intellectual capacity to be leaders; their leaders would lack the physical strength to be warriors; etc. To them, a rigid stratification of society would be normal.

Now -- consider the ramifications if aliens such as this encountered humans. The moral and psychological barriers that might prohibit us from wholesale slaughter or enslavement of an intelligent alien race would be largely non-existent in these aliens.

The question of how common intelligent life is, and whether or not interstellar travel/colonization could ever be feasible, are both open questions to me, and are fascinating to consider. But I do agree with those who say that assuming that actual contact with an alien culture would be peaceful, based on the principle that an advanced technological culture must also share our moral/ethical values, is naive and most likely not true.
The problem with such races is flexibility. Suppose that a certain type of race was no longer needed, then there would be numbers of unemployable people around. The only solution would be to stop them breeding for their children would also be unemployable.

Compare that with humans. Yes there are unemployable humans. However with help they can become employable again. The other races would have the same issue, for the same reasons, with the groups who are employable. This is on top of the issue I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

I would suggest that any advanced civilization would have to be relatively peaceful. In the period 1940-80s humans had huge numbers of weapons that could easily have wiped out humans or at least destroyed advanced civilization. We survived that period. Any other race would also invent such weapons and have a number of people who could have done the same thing. If they were more aggressive then that is the end of that race.

Though of course that may not carry over to their treatment of other races like the human race. The Japanese, for example, treat other nationalities very badly.
__________________
This signature is for rent.
rjh01 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 3rd March 2015, 10:53 PM   #38
Wolfman
Chief Solipsistic
Autosycophant
 
Wolfman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 13,291
rjh, you seem to equate "living peacefully" with "treating everyone equally". The two are not in any way synonymous. I can easily envisage numerous different kinds of cultures that 'live peacefully', but do not treat everyone equally. Just within human cultures, Tibetan history had long periods of peace, yet a greatly stratified culture that placed significant value of some people's lives over the lives of others.

Now, expand that to a culture with entirely different evolutionary pressures, all of which have gone towards developing their own moral and ethical values. I think it is rather ludicrous to assume that those values would align with our own. Heck, we can't even agree as humans. Animal testing -- is it right or wrong? If wrong, is it always wrong, or only in some instances? Or eating animal flesh -- is it right or wrong? There are some who argue that vegetarianism is evidence of a 'higher' moral/ethical plane, while others think that is nonsense, since we evolved as omnivores to eat both meat and plants.

It is easy to envisage numerous scenarios where aliens would see us as having less value than them, being inferior to them (especially given that in order to get here, they would be definition be far more technologically advanced), etc. They could be a culture that had achieved complete harmony and peace on their own planet...and yet had no qualms about subjugating or eliminating us in order to maintain that peace in their settlement of our planet.
__________________
Please check out my business, The Language of Culture
Wolfman is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 4th March 2015, 01:16 AM   #39
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 24,646
Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
The Japanese, for example, treat other nationalities very badly.
Paint with a broad brush much?

What basis is there for this? (And if you bring up historical stuff then historical stuff is fair game for other nationalities).
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 4th March 2015, 01:52 AM   #40
Wolfman
Chief Solipsistic
Autosycophant
 
Wolfman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 13,291
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Paint with a broad brush much?

What basis is there for this? (And if you bring up historical stuff then historical stuff is fair game for other nationalities).
Agreed. There's a tendency among most fairly homogenous cultures to see themselves as 'better' (look at the Germans in WW II), and to discriminate against those who are 'different'. But that is also changing quite a bit, including in Japan, particular with the impact of globalization and the internet, where even traditionally homogenous cultures are being consistently exposed to other cultures and kinds of people. The above comment seems be be based much more on past history than any awareness of modern reality.
__________________
Please check out my business, The Language of Culture
Wolfman is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Skeptical Podcasts » SETI

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 01:46 PM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.