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10 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

Yeah, I'd like to explore that point for a moment. Let's look at "any biospheres remotely like ours." If Earth had had a little less gravity and a little higher atmospheric oxygen content, insects could have evolved large enough for complex brain functions to support self-awareness and reason. What could have developed from a sapient ant or termite?

 

6 hours ago, dmjalund said:

the Earth has had a higher oxygen content in the past, and this has not led to sapient centipedes

 

I'm thinking that some brain structures may have inbuilt ceilings on how sophisticated they may become.

 

Of course alien insects may have totally different brains to our insects.

The Size of Life unfortunately get's in the way. You can not just scale up any species and get sentience out of it.

 

 

Large relative brains are actually a huge waste of resources. If you do not get a survival advantage out of it (via manipulatory limbs, wolfpac tactics, echolocation or similar) then it is not worth investing into it further.

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11 hours ago, dmjalund said:

the Earth has had a higher oxygen content in the past, and this has not led to sapient centipedes

 

I'm thinking that some brain structures may have inbuilt ceilings on how sophisticated they may become.

 

Of course alien insects may have totally different brains to our insects.

 

Indeed. But you might also have missed the "lower gravity" part. ;)

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4 hours ago, Christopher said:

 

The Size of Life unfortunately get's in the way. You can not just scale up any species and get sentience out of it.

 

 

Large relative brains are actually a huge waste of resources. If you do not get a survival advantage out of it (via manipulatory limbs, wolfpac tactics, echolocation or similar) then it is not worth investing into it further.

 

http://www.eartharchives.org/articles/the-biggest-insect-ever-was-a-huge-dragonfly/

 

Our current dominance over other Terrestrial lifeforms comes from our large relative brains, so they certainly can be a survival advantage. And all mammals today evolved from creatures the size of small rodents, which diversified after the dinosaurs became extinct. The link above illustrates that under the right conditions insects can grow dramatically larger than any species alive today.

 

There's another way to look at this too. The Star Hero book line for our own beloved game system posits an insectile alien race which forms intelligence via a "group mind," with individual insects within a colony functioning rather like individual brain cells, conducting mental impulses throughout the whole via chemicals passed through contact. Particularly interesting in light of Earthly ants which have developed vast "supercolonies" around the planet.

 

http://sciencenordic.com/ants-supercolonies-defy-evolution

http://ants.com/5-ant-supercolonies-worlds-largest-ant-colonies/

 

It would probably surprise very few people if a hypothetical group mind organism like this thought very differently from us.

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I am suspicious of any argument that goes, "Logically, anyone, anywhere, would have to behave in this particular manner."  Classical economics was built on such arguments. When behavioral economists looked at what people actually did, they found that those arguments were a load of fetid dingo's kidneys.

 

The problem with "convergent evolution" as an argument is that it does not predict anything in particular. Take eyes, for instance. Earthlife has evolved eyes, I am tole, at least 20 separate times. This makes sense: It's very useful to sense light. But eyes are not all the same. Just consider the difference between the camera eyes of vertebrates and the compound eyes of insects. It's plausible that an alien biosphere will include creatures with eyes -- likely several kinds. But you can't say more than that.

 

Or flight. Flight is so useful it's evolved several times. But insect wings and vertebrate wings evolved from different starting structures, to very different final forms.

 

What about intelligence and tool use? We now know that nothing in human behavior is truly unique; language, tool use, and other forms of intelligence are hypertrophied, but many other creatures also do them to lesser degrees. So they are likely to appear in other biospheres, too. But to what degree? In what form? We cannot know how typical the human form of these traits are until we see other examples that are developed to corresponding extremes.

 

Dean Shomshak

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56 minutes ago, Lord Liaden said:

http://www.eartharchives.org/articles/the-biggest-insect-ever-was-a-huge-dragonfly/

 

Our current dominance over other Terrestrial lifeforms comes from our large relative brains, so they certainly can be a survival advantage. And all mammals today evolved from creatures the size of small rodents, which diversified after the dinosaurs became extinct. The link above illustrates that under the right conditions insects can grow dramatically larger than any species alive today.

You mean the time the earth glitched?

 

Yes, I know about that one. But the problem is, that such a evironmental setting might not be conductive to develop intelligence in the first place:
If a species with the brain of a bug can be dominant in the air, that means there is no point in adding intelligence to aerial builds.

 

1 hour ago, Lord Liaden said:

And all mammals today evolved from creatures the size of small rodents, which diversified after the dinosaurs became extinct.

That is the problem: As long as the Dinosaurs were dominant, there was no way for mamals to evolve further towards intellgience.

If a increase in energy consumption by +10% does not increase survivability by +11%, this is a evolutionary dead end that wil be selected out.

And you need a lot of those increases to get to human intelligence.

 

13 minutes ago, DShomshak said:

What about intelligence and tool use? We now know that nothing in human behavior is truly unique; language, tool use, and other forms of intelligence are hypertrophied, but many other creatures also do them to lesser degrees. So they are likely to appear in other biospheres, too. But to what degree? In what form? We cannot know how typical the human form of these traits are until we see other examples that are developed to corresponding extremes. 

You need a lot more requirements the just Intelligence to unlock the tech tree:

 

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Christopher, your arguments, while logical, are extremely cause-and-affect. But note those ant supercolonies I linked to articles about earlier. No one knows why certain ants are forming them. There's no apparent evolutionary incentive to them -- ants have been highly successful on this planet for eons. In the long term they may even prove detrimental to the species, as they undermine the ecological balance with their expansion, and become more vulnerable to destructive mutation, disease, etc. Yet the ants are doing it. Maybe sometimes nature just accidentally stumbles into something. Human-style intelligence could be one of those accidents.

 

And to reiterate, we're working from the example of one planet, with one ecosystem that ultimately derived from one form of life out of which everything else arose.

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Yeah, I think a mistake that often occurs is thinking in logical terms. By that I means things like +10% smarts, must equal +11+% or else. Evolution is more random, one day an organism developes a weird modification, it may be a benefit, a problem, or not matter.

 

A super smart mouse might gain no advantage in normal tasks, but succeed wildly at say mating, or invent specialisation with its self as "High priest". Some selection is slow and steady, but plenty is wildly odd.

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3 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

Maybe sometimes nature just accidentally stumbles into something. Human-style intelligence could be one of those accidents.

 

That is exactly how evolution works, to the best of my understanding.

 

It's also worth noting that, using Earth life as an example, it seems that intelligence is most useful in a social species. The smartest species are those that live in groups, like pods of cetatceans, murders of corvids, or tribes of primates. I don't know which direction causation goes on that, though.

 

3 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

And to reiterate, we're working from the example of one planet, with one ecosystem that ultimately derived from one form of life out of which everything else arose.

 

It's frustrating, and I feel like some kind of killjoy for reminding people of this fact, but . . . yeah. We need more information before we can start talking about universal trends.

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5 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

There's no apparent evolutionary incentive to them -- ants have been highly successful on this planet for eons. In the long term they may even prove detrimental to the species, as they undermine the ecological balance with their expansion, and become more vulnerable to destructive mutation, disease, etc.

Evolution is the ultimative mad scientist.

It is trying out every mutation 20 times per 1 million year. And selection will result in them being either:

a) beneficial so they become dominant eventually

b) detrimental so they are weeded out eventually

c) meh on the grand sceme so they stay in, more or less

 

There is a whole host of genetic defects regarding the immune System. Generally those are bad. Unless you are in a malaria region, then they somewhat beneficial: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaria#Genetic_resistance

They fall into the "meh" category. Not detrimental enough to be ever fully weeded out. But beneficial in a very specific circumstance.

 

Actually now that selection pressures have been removed, we are already seeing genetic degradation in humanity.

http://www.sciencebits.com/GeneDegrade

https://www.nature.com/news/1999/990204/full/news990204-2.html

 

5 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

But note those ant supercolonies I linked to articles about earlier. No one knows why certain ants are forming them. There's no apparent evolutionary incentive to them -- ants have been highly successful on this planet for eons. In the long term they may even prove detrimental to the species, as they undermine the ecological balance with their expansion, and become more vulnerable to destructive mutation, disease, etc. Yet the ants are doing it.

a), b) or c)
It will be one of those.

 

5 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

Human-style intelligence could be one of those accidents.

Human style intelligence is most definitely an accident. Just one of those that worked out.

Intelligence is a very costly accident. The Brain eats a lot of energy. More intelligences needs more energy. And if it can not bring that defict back in? Then it is a case b) accident and is weeded out. The same way Haemophilia and Shortsightedness used ot be.

 

1 hour ago, Zeropoint said:

It's frustrating, and I feel like some kind of killjoy for reminding people of this fact, but . . . yeah. We need more information before we can start talking about universal trends. 

There is a common misconception that I am saying "Humanity is the gold standart".

I am doing the opposite of that. I am saying "Humanity is bog standart".

Alien life will propably be similar to us not because we are special. But because we are boring. Normal.

 

Originally this was about the Fermi Paradox. And if a alien sentient species would even want to colonize space. To wich for me the answer is still: Yes, of course.

"Fill all Niches" is the goal of all lifeforms, from viruses to elephants

"Fill all Niches" + "General Intelligence" + "Manipulatory Limbs" = Civilisation

"Fill all Niches" + "Civilisation" = Space colonisation (if possible)

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23 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

As always, you return to, "all life." To which I always reply, "all life we know about." I believe this is the point at which we should acknowledge our impasse, and move on to other topics. :)

You asume there is a form of life whose imperative is not "fill all reachable niches"? Such a life(form) sounds like a prime candidate for selection. That is one heck of a far fetched asumption.

 

"Fill all niches" is just instrumentally usefull for all forms of life to avoid selection. Even if it is selected out in some areas, it might still have other niches that become it's primary area. Like Amphibians tried to fill the "land niche", only to end up being largely selected out of the oceans.

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Okay, fine. One last go. :straight:

 

On 10/23/2018 at 9:00 PM, Christopher said:

There is a common misconception that I am saying "Humanity is the gold standart".

I am doing the opposite of that. I am saying "Humanity is bog standart".

Alien life will propably be similar to us not because we are special. But because we are boring. Normal.

 

Originally this was about the Fermi Paradox. And if a alien sentient species would even want to colonize space. To wich for me the answer is still: Yes, of course.

"Fill all Niches" is the goal of all lifeforms, from viruses to elephants

"Fill all Niches" + "General Intelligence" + "Manipulatory Limbs" = Civilisation

"Fill all Niches" + "Civilisation" = Space colonisation (if possible)

 

IMNSHO "normal" is an insupportable assumption based on only one example. I've tried to illustrate how an easily imagined, alternative evolution toward intelligence could produce a way of thinking radically different from our own.

 

I'm willing to concede your first "Fill all Niches" point, because I can't imagine how it would work any other way. Your second and third points I have a big problem taking as inevitable. Nothing you've argued has persuaded me otherwise, and clearly the reverse is also true.

 

So I would hope we can agree to disagree. And that is where I leave this debate. :)

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6 hours ago, archer said:

Alien civilization abandons giant ice cube project saying, "Taking it home would be more hassle than it is worth." 

 

https://gizmodo.com/nasa-releases-more-pics-of-freaky-rectangular-iceberg-1829962438

Plus it is more of a Trapezoid anyway. "Last time we let that guy draw the outline per hand."

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Nov. 2018 Scientific American has an article about the RELICS study (Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey), which aimed the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes at distant massive galaxy clusters to use them as magnifying lenses in hopes of seeing the very first galaxies. They've done it, finding at least one galaxy they estimate to be only 400 million years after the Big Bang. Its spectrum confirms that it was in the "reionization" period because what was its ultraviolet light (before red shift) is missing: It was absorbed by neutral hydrogen, splitting it into protons and electrons.

 

Even with the gravitational lensing, though, the observers can't see much detail. That must wait for the James Webb Space Telescope. Then, they expect to learn a lot about this early stage of star and galaxy formation.

 

There's also an excerpt of an interview with a blind linguist on the possible difficulties of communicating with aliens who do not use the same senses that we do. I was reminded of the Green Lantern Corps story about trying to recruit a member from a blind species.

 

Dean Shomshak

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5 hours ago, DShomshak said:

There's also an excerpt of an interview with a blind linguist on the possible difficulties of communicating with aliens who do not use the same senses that we do. I was reminded of the Green Lantern Corps story about trying to recruit a member from a blind species.

Ah yes, the "Rot Lop Fan" aka the "F-sharp bell":
https://greenlantern.fandom.com/wiki/Lantern_Oaths_(Disambiguation)#Rot_Lop_Fan_.28F-Sharp_Bell.29_Version

 

Even if they lack sight, Radio would still be universally usefull. They just need to encode different stuff in it.

As a example, we once tasked a Neural Network with evolving the plans for a oscilator - just based on the expected output. It build something that was definitely not a oscilator, but still had the right output.

The Solution? It had evolved a radio that received and modulated the EM noise of a nearby running PC.

And that asumes full civilisation building sentience is even possible without sight. Just making a situation where you have goldilocks temperatures and no light reaching the sentience adds a whole lot of extra wrinkles into the whole evolution part.

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