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Danger: Humans


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So far there are no transportation options here that are more cost effective than cars. Perhaps the island is not small enough.

 

True, but the point is that Hawaii isn't the place that invented cars.  Somebody came in, with cars already invented elsewhere, and brought them to the island.  While it is now economical to use cars, it does not appear like it was economical to develop them on the island.

 

Now, Hawaii on its own never developed any sort of advanced technology.  But if you had a "Planet Hawaii", where every inhabited place was a tropical island, they'd have probably created very different technologies by this point.

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I will point out (and I am home sick today so I cannot provide a reference deeper than Wikipedia) that there is a planet detection in a globular cluster, and globulars are rather older than the Sun, ~12 Gyr is one estimate. Now, that detection is a jovian-class object orbiting a pulsar, and I've frothed at the mouth about those before. But if you can make a core on which a jovian planet is built from globular cluster material, that suggests that really ancient planets exist. The element mix was different then, but if you strip off the H and He (and you make rocks out of what's left), well, you can still make a rock.

 

"Humans are the first!" is a possibility still, but arguments based on galactic chemical evolution aren't compelling. There is, after all, the galactic bulge, which is both pretty metal-rich and old; it's just beastly hard to study from where we are.

 

One interpretation of a very low number resulting from your favorite inputs to the Drake Equation has always been that Earth is the first civilization. Depending on numbers, you can also get a low enough "occupancy rate" in the Galaxy so that civilizations die off in less time than the light-crossing time for distances to any other civilization that might overlap with them in time.

 

In my pessimistic mood now, my guess for the way out of the Fermi Paradox is that interstellar travel is way too expensive for anyone ever to get there, and no technical civilization amasses enough resources to pull it off before they poison themselves in their own waste products.

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Re the Drake Equation and Fermi Paradox and all that: I've always felt the most likely answer is "we missed a variable that will be staggeringly obvious in hindsight once we figure it out in another XX years." Maybe there's something about dark matter/dark energy/whatever that interferes with radio transmissions over interstelller distances that are relatively low power (ie - emitted by something smaller than a star). Or maybe there's something way cooler/better than radio waves to communicate with, and everyone figures that out after only a few centuries of using radio, so the window of opportunity to spot them is really small. Or maybe we just don't really understand _____ as well as we think we do. [shrug] Pure speculation obviously, but any of those options seem more probable to me than "We're first!"

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Depending on numbers, you can also get a low enough "occupancy rate" in the Galaxy so that civilizations die off in less time than the light-crossing time for distances to any other civilization that might overlap with them in time.

Yeah, while kinda depressing, that's not an unreasonable conclusion either based on the data we have so far. If you want a game/story where humans are the only people in space, it's far more likely that there have been other advanced civilizations before, but they're all long gone. So we're not the first, but maybe we're the first recently.

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The automobiles and medicine thing was someone else's example.  I'm just saying it isn't as crazy as you seem to think.

 

One of my non-game interests is in a type of urban planning, what is today called "New Urbanism".  Not to bore anyone with the details (my girlfriend zones out when I bring it up), but it's basically about how you should design cities to interact with pedestrians, not cars.  Some of the die hard New Urbanists argue that the development of the automobile has actually retarded our development as a civilization.  There's a group of people today saying we'd be better off if cars had never been invented.  I don't know if they're right or not, but it's easy to imagine a world that made different choices than we did.  It wouldn't just be modern Earth with horses and buggies instead of cars, the cities would be laid out differently.  The lifestyles would be different.

 

The point is, just because cars were an obvious development for us, that doesn't mean that another civilization would have gone the same way.  Imagine a planet where most of the inhabitable land was strewn about through a vast archipelago.  Hundreds of thousands of little islands would be spread all around the world, but none of them big enough to really merit a large system of roads.  Land vehicles may have never been that important.  All trade and transportation would have been based around boats and ships.

If people/goods transport themself via Cars/Trucks, Trains or Ships does not mater. The basic technology is the same.

Knowledge in one, translates into knowledge of the other. Once the Ship/Train engines developed far enough, somebody would have the idea to make a car.

 

Even a hypothethical city optimised for pedestrians would also be optimised for Bikes by accidents.

So bikes would become very common. Putting a motor on a bike is not that far fetched. Motorized Bicycle.

Boom, we got cars again developed from Ship technology over a bunch of archipellagos.

 

 

 

Or think about a world that didn't have easily accessible oil and coal deposits.  They use whale oil or its equivalent until those start to run out, and then they have to switch to some other form of fuel.  They're stuck in a pre-industrial state until they can develop hydroelectric power or something, because their planet just doesn't have enough fossil fuels.

Then there is a decent chance they never develop an industrial age civilisation.

I am pretty convinced that if we somehow manage to set our civilisation back 500 years, that new human culture would have no fuel to burn for an industrial revolution.

 

True, but the point is that Hawaii isn't the place that invented cars.  Somebody came in, with cars already invented elsewhere, and brought them to the island.  While it is now economical to use cars, it does not appear like it was economical to develop them on the island.

 

Now, Hawaii on its own never developed any sort of advanced technology.  But if you had a "Planet Hawaii", where every inhabited place was a tropical island, they'd have probably created very different technologies by this point.

I find it doublfull that this "Planet Hawai" people would ever had any option to develop to industrial age to begin with.

I mean our planet is only 30% landmass, of wich a large part is unuseable for Human habitation. But at least it allows relatively easy access to resources. We would not even have the option to mine underwater or in space without those landlocked resouces fuelling our growth to begin with.

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I find it doublfull that this "Planet Hawai" people would ever had any option to develop to industrial age to begin with.

One of the takeaways from Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs & Steel" is that civilization advanced fastest in the largest contiguous areas of favorable climate--which in Earth's case was the Mediterranean/Fertile Crescent at first, followed by the east-west-oriented Eurasian landmass overall.

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I find it doublfull that this "Planet Hawai" people would ever had any option to develop to industrial age to begin with.

I mean our planet is only 30% landmass, of wich a large part is unuseable for Human habitation. But at least it allows relatively easy access to resources. We would not even have the option to mine underwater or in space without those landlocked resouces fuelling our growth to begin with.

 

Yes. I think it's likely that, assuming alien intelligence exists, that we may find most such civilizations stalled out at pre-industrial levels of technology for various economic, cultural, resource-access and other reasons. The development of a high-tech industrial civilization is not, in my opinion, inevitable. The right social/economic/whatever confluence of events needed to kick off an industrial revolution may well be a real bottleneck.

 

The Romans had steam engines. They used them for toys. The Chinese invented gunpowder millennia ago. They created fireworks and maybe a few bombs. And so on. But for various cultural or economic reasons, it wasn't until fairly recently that things really took off. We can argue over whether this or that particular thing was crucial--but I think it's clear that simply having an intelligent species around is no guarantee that they'll develop high technology soon, or possibly at all.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Many, many years ago, I read a story (in Omni magazine, I think) where aliens had abducted a human, male for the purposes of study. It seems that humans had always been regarded as an extremely dangerous species and, under no circumstances, should they ever be approached. Alas, there was never any empirical evidence as to why this was the case, so they decided to find out. 

 

The research facility was an isolated space station, with only one way out. Only a single ship would visit at irregular intervals to re-supply the station. They placed him in an escape-proof prison – basically a glorified zoo-like enclosure with bars, a moat, automated weapons, etc. They made certain that the subject knew that it was escape proof, then they settled down to observe.

 

They performed every test they could devise, literally took him apart and put him back together and could find no evidence to substantiate the "legend" of the dangerous human. To extend the amount of time they could observe the subject, made him functionally immortal (no aging, immune to disease, able to recover from nearly any injury).

 

After a significant amount of time had passed (I don't recall that an actual amount of time was ever stated), the human escaped, overcoming every obstacle the researchers had set up and escaped in the stolen supply ship, presumably headed back to earth.

 

As they watched the ship depart, the lead researcher poured a drink and toasted the end of their own race. In response to the quizzical looks, he replied, 'A single human, whom we've made nearly unkillable, has escaped from a prison that was escape-proof, in a ship containing navigational and technological knowledge far superior to anything his planet had achieved. How long do you think it will be until it returns with an invasion force?..."

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They performed every test they could devise, literally took him apart and put him back together and could find no evidence to substantiate the "legend" of the dangerous human. To extend the amount of time they could observe the subject, made him functionally immortal (no aging, immune to disease, able to recover from nearly any injury).

Mad science means: Never asking "what is the worst that could happen?"

 

My main issues with the story as described is that the aliens are so mind-bogglingly stupid. They literally gave him the ability to overcome thier "escape proof" prision.

I mean it is one thing to have the saw smuggeled in via a cake. Another for the Prisionkeepers to give metal saws to thier inmates. And even replacing them when they get dull.

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