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Maybe the Aliens Are Addicted To Computer Games

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the gotta-do-one-more-daily dept.

Sci-Fi 496

Hugh Pickens writes "Geoffrey Miller has an interesting hypothesis in Seed Magazine that explains Fermi's Paradox — why 40 years of intensive searching for extraterrestrial intelligence have yielded nothing: no radio signals, no credible spacecraft sightings, no close encounters of any kind. All the aliens are busy playing computer games. The aliens 'forget to send radio signals or colonize space because they're too busy with runaway consumerism and virtual-reality narcissism,' writes Miller. He says the fundamental problem is that an evolved mind must pay attention to indirect cues of biological fitness, rather than tracking fitness itself, and that although evolution favors brains that tend to maximize fitness (as measured by numbers of great-grandkids), no brain has capacity enough to do so under every possible circumstance. 'The result is that we don't seek reproductive success directly; we seek tasty foods that have tended to promote survival, and luscious mates who have tended to produce bright, healthy babies. The modern result? Fast food and pornography,' writes Miller. 'Once they turn inwards to chase their shiny pennies of pleasure, they lose the cosmic plot.' Miller adds that most bright alien species probably go extinct gradually, allocating more time and resources to their pleasures, and less to their children, until they eventually die out." Who here doesn't think a TNG-style Holodeck would lead to the downfall of our civilization?

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Yea (5, Funny)

Seriousity (1441391) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855348)

The bastards keep hacking into our WiFi and pirating Starcraft! Now our ISP is sending us cease and desist notices! We tried to tell them it was the aliens but they just referred us to a local psychiatrist!

Re:Yea (4, Insightful)

impaledsunset (1337701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855684)

That's one of the most ridiculous hypotheses I've ever read. Sure, it is possible, Sure, everything we know about aliens is based on speculations that don't go against our knowledge. But most speculations at least seem plausible and match the only example of an advanced civilization we know of.

And this single example has shown us a few things for which I would be surprised if they don't apply universally. The first is that no matter what the general population are, there would always be deviations and a small percentage of people who are different is enough to affect world-wide matters. The second is that if these different people don't exist or are unable to push the rest of the society like we do, the whole population would probably still be in the caves, because most of our progress depended on them.

Well, the last one seems plausible, though. However, I thought that the possibility that all aliens are still in the caves was already considered, and thus this story brings nothing new to us.

I don't think there's one reason for it all, though.

1. While I want to believe that life is abundant in the universe, complex life as ours might turn out to be rare.
2. For four billion years all life here was essentially living in the caves. We created our civilization in a wink lasting the mere fifty thousand years because homo sapiens somehow managed to look outside of the box by chance. Sure, being intelligent was an evolutionary advantage for the billions of years that the homo genus survived, so we didn't come out of nowhere, but there's still no guarantee that this happens often in the universe. We might be one of the few advanced civilizations.
3. What makes us think we can hear them? Have they developed the radio? Do they use broadcasts? What if they use encryption making the signals indistinguishable from noise? Why would they care to send signals to us? Maybe some of them "know" that there's a little chance that there's someone out there?

Re:Yea (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855850)

Starcraft players still live in caves.

From the (2, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855356)

...did-just-one-too-many-dailies dept.

This-one-just-sucks-alot. Give-it-up-you-morons-please....

Oh stop (1)

Y2KDragon (525979) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855686)

It's funny. Learn to laugh a little. Looking at our own society, and our additction to games, TV, and other electronic diversions, it's easy to attribute this to aliens. Personally, I see it as a commentary as to why WE won't ever be the ones to make contact. I mean, seriously, who doesn't think for a moment that if we could create ST:TNG Holodeck technology that it woudln't become the new "internet is for porn". Just don't ask me to clean up after you.

From the TFA (3, Funny)

mrsam (12205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855366)

Geoffrey Miller is an assistant professor in the department of psychology at University of New Mexico.

I'm sure the guy is looking for a government grant, to study this intriguing possibility. Great job, if you can get it: spend government money to study if aliens are busy playing videogames

Re:From the TFA (4, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855456)

Great job, if you can get it: spend government money to study if aliens are busy playing videogames

Massive fail if you lose the opportunity of spending government money on the study of junk food and porn.

Re:From the TFA (4, Funny)

mindbrane (1548037) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855476)

Geoffrey Miller is an assistant professor in the department of psychology at University of New Mexico.

Lucky bastard, obviously the peyote still grows wild and free in abundance down there. Although, given the hypothesis as put forth in the article, I sense there's a pipeline for good B.C. bud running down there too.

Let's not project human attributes onto aliens. (4, Insightful)

master_p (608214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855370)

Why do we believe that aliens will be preoccupied with themselves and ignore the cosmic plot, just like we humans do? perhaps aliens evolved from a kind of ants, for example, where the 'we' is above the 'I'.

40 years of search is nothing. We may search for another 10,000 years and find nothing...in cosmic terms, even 10,000 years is a drop in the bucket.

Re:Let's not project human attributes onto aliens. (2, Funny)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855406)

What would you do after all the research you find that the answer to the greatest mystery in life is... 42?

You go like... "Is this it?!"
-"Damn... for the love of telepathy, what do we do now?"
"Fsck it, let's fire up Quake 25!"

Re:Let's not project human attributes onto aliens. (2, Funny)

sco08y (615665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855442)

Why do we believe that aliens will be preoccupied with themselves and ignore the cosmic plot, just like we humans do? perhaps aliens evolved from a kind of ants, for example, where the 'we' is above the 'I'.

Instead of "I'm going to play Half Life" the ants would be saying "let's play Half Life." Same end state.

Re:Let's not project human attributes onto aliens. (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855814)

Close. Half Life is a single player game. They're more likely play Counter Strike.

Or maybe on the contrary, let's (5, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855490)

Or maybe, on the contrary, let's really project human motives upon them. But the real ones, instead of idiotic bullshit designed just to make headlines.

Do humans get so busy with computer games that the whole species, all 6 billions of us, forget to even mine the resources we need or trade or plough the fields? Did any country yet starve because they were too busy playing to go to the supermarket, or go open the supermarket for that reason? No? Then why should we assume that any aliens would?

Because colonization was usually driven by wanting some resources which are abbundant over there, and are in short supply over here. Even if sometimes that meant "living space". That's what drove people to put a lot of money into building a big ship and risk their own lives on the high seas. Or by extension in the void of space. If you're going to invest billions in a space freighter and risk perishing to a micrometeor impact between here and there, you'll expect some suitable ROI. That ROI is what would drive people to do that.

So if there actually was that ROI to be made in space travel and colonization... am I the only one who thinks it's idiotic to imagine that a whole civilization, down to the last member, from CEOs and presidents to the last bum on the street, would go "nah, we'll just sit and grind the epic gear, thank you very much?" How do they survive at all, if nobody is even interested in working or making some form of income?

And if they are, how come they'd reject _only_ space colonization in favour of sitting and playing games, but not the other forms of work, including making those games?

Or maybe the more mundane reality is that that ROI just isn't there. Maybe the energy to haul stuff between stars really doesn't make it economical to mine the dilithium some 20 light years away.

And if c really is the speed limit, and space being that big, maybe nobody is interested in investing now in a ship which would return with the goods in 1000 years. Just because they don't even know which resources will actually sell that far in the future. Less than 200 years ago, aluminium was more expensive than silver or even gold, so I guess if we sent a ship to establish a colony and mine the most expensive stuff we can get there, it would have been aluminium. Then almost over night a new process was invented for producing it, and price fell like a rock. Or as little as 100 years away, coal was the fuel of superpower navies, and wars and willy-waving games were waged over access to it and to coaling stations. Then it all moved to oil, and now to nuclear reactors.

Or maybe they just don't need the extra space, and hence the colonies. Everywhere on Earth where we got sanitation, antibiotics, etc, population stopped growing and in fact started to decline. People used to make a lot of kids to beat the odds, but if their survival is all but guaranteed, they stop after 1-2 kids. We already simply don't need to offload some population somewhere else. In a million years (if we don't nuke ourselves first) the whole Earth population might be in a couple of quaint villages surrounded by thousands of miles of woods. And need colonies like a fish needs a bicycle.

But, of course, those are rational reasons. Nah, let's go with a sensationalist idiocy instead, like "maybe they're playing video games." Geesh.

Re:Or maybe on the contrary, let's (5, Interesting)

jonadab (583620) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855694)

> And if c really is the speed limit, and space being that big

The speed of light is only theoretically the speed limit, an absolute upper bound. In practice, nothing with enough mass and complexity to be alive, much less intelligent, can travel at anywhere near c and hope to survive. Interstellar travel is wildly impractical. It makes for interesting fiction, but unless our understanding of physics is TOTALLY messed up (*way* more flawed than we currently think pure Newtonian physics was), there's absolutely zero practical application, ever.

Even interstellar *communication* is wildly impractical. I mean, come on, latency measured in *years*? What kind of conversation could you have, EVEN if you already spoke the same language? And if you don't, how are you going to learn it? Cultural immersion is NOT possible. Back-and-forth dialog isn't even really possible. With no pre-existing linguistic information to help you bridge the gap, *and* no interaction, how would you characterize an alien language? You could spend centuries analyzing a single hour's worth of message and get nowhere. It'd be like trying to read the Voynich manuscript, only much worse (because the Voynich manuscript was written by a *human*, and furthermore by a human who was obviously familiar with a number of popular human writing conventions that we understand; an alien message wouldn't be so comprehensible). You almost certainly wouldn't be able to figure out for sure if the signals you were getting were language and represented actual meaning or not.

If there were any *intelligent* aliens, they would eventually figure this out and give up on the idea.

Re:Or maybe on the contrary, let's (5, Funny)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855810)

What kind of conversation could you have, EVEN if you already spoke the same language?

I know you will be surprised to hear from me, as we have never met. I have recently come into possession of 25 billion galactic zorns which belonged to the late Supreme Ruler Zardoz ...

Re:Or maybe on the contrary, let's (3, Funny)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855880)

Even interstellar *communication* is wildly impractical. I mean, come on, latency measured in *years*? What kind of conversation could you have, EVEN if you already spoke the same language? And if you don't, how are you going to learn it? Cultural immersion is NOT possible. Back-and-forth dialog isn't even really possible. With no pre-existing linguistic information to help you bridge the gap, *and* no interaction, how would you characterize an alien language? You could spend centuries analyzing a single hour's worth of message and get nowhere.

But something as a big as a recognisable alien communication would be enough in itself to prove the existence of aliens (or a deity with a sick sense of humour). People would happily devote centuries to studying such a message. If we even just swapped Wikipedias that would give enough data to be getting on with for at least a few centuries.

Re:Or maybe on the contrary, let's (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855728)

Or maybe the life on earth comes from an absurd combination of improbable coincidence, that nowhere else in the Universe did star give birth to planets except in our very small part of the Milky Way (all the exoplanets detected are "close") and that the earth is really the only one with liquid water and liquid water is the only environment where life has a chance to appear spontaneously...

Hey, why not ? It is bad practice in statistics to use only two observations to do a projection. In search for IT we are extrapolating from a single observation (Earth). Everything is possible !

Re:Or maybe on the contrary, let's (3, Interesting)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855754)

And if c really is the speed limit, and space being that big, maybe nobody is interested in investing now in a ship which would return with the goods in 1000 years.

Or, alternatively:

Terran President: Ok, Alpha Centauri expedition, go to Alpha Centauri, and mine the resources and send 20% of what you get to us because you're our colony.

Alpha Centauri Expedition: Ok!

(15 years later)

ACE: Ok, we arrived at Alpha Centauri, let's start mining now.

ACE: Wait, why do we have to send 20% to them again? It's not like they're doing anything for us.

(30 years later, TP finally finds out what's going on)

TP: Wait, why aren't they doing their colonial duties? Let's send an interstellar war fleet and enforce our will with an iron fist! After all, they're just a puny colony.

ACE: Unfortunately for you, we, with our planet full of fresh unmined resources, have actually grown quite big...

(15 years later, TP and ACE's respective interstellar war fleets reach each other, nuclear war ensues, 4 billion casualties)

Rinse and repeat. Expansion would turn out to be a very slow and painful process if that were to happen.

Re:Or maybe on the contrary, let's (3, Insightful)

roca (43122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855756)

Regardless of what the majority of the aliens do, surely at least some subset would transition to intelligent machines that can and wish to reproduce, travel interstellar and colonize the galaxy.

Re:Or maybe on the contrary, let's (1)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855764)

You are assuming one thing: Economy will work the same in future.

Right now, we are very close to having 4 day work week purely because most of production systems are more efficient and require less human labor.

In fact, most of our current jobs are basically "busywork for masses", I have read estimates of as little as 10% of population needing to work to keep population fed and suplied with goods with currently technology. Only thing that prevents us swtiching to 9leeches-per-person is how money work and that it would not exactly be well recieved by 10% of population.

Should techno-fetishists dreams come true, we will eventually have fusion power and nanomachines able to produce anything we want on command and propably ai to issue those commands.

When you can get pretty much anything you desire for free, instantly and without thinking, you end up having lots of spare time to kill. Ideal situation to get immersted into virtual reality that will once again give you some basic feelings: feeling of achiveing something and feeling of overcoming obstacles. Basically, living in world of sugar, you will desire ballanced whip/sugar combination, game gives it easily.

While (very) few people have immer motivation and be able to function in surplus society, I doubt that majority will trully enjoy it.

> That's what drove people to put a lot of money into building a big ship and risk their own lives on the high seas

What drove them was desire to ensure that their quality of live increases/does not decrease. That is driving force: getting shelter, having food, wooing mate; leaving enough for your offspring so that they prosper. Yep, even bilionares are motivated by this.

If everyone in society feels they are secure enough, lots of driving force gets nulified. If everyone can get anything they want, nothing is going to drive them to do anything even remotelly unsafe.

Re:Or maybe on the contrary, let's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855820)

So why then is it that the birthrate in the most developed countries is below sustainable levels?

Re:Let's not project human attributes onto aliens. (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855512)

There was a great Google talk from a SETI guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyai5IyO-8E [youtube.com]
He explained why nothing has been found yet and why he is certain we'll get contact in 20-40 years. Good stuff!

Re:Let's not project human attributes onto aliens. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855662)

do you have a transcript. My life is too short for sitting in front of slow video.

The scary part is once we find them ... (1)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855550)

If they are nothing like us, that will be a bigger problem.

This particular idea almost collides with the idea that aliens will make our life better in some way when we encounter them. They might treat us just like the old world treated the new world and its inhabitants. If simple cultural differences can cause such trouble, imagine whole species encountering each other.

I sure hope for aliens who have evolved into societies like ours, completely independently. I (and in extrapolation, the rest of humanity) will not be able to deal with something like a hive mind of consciousness in an incoming attacker. But I'm sure with the regular kind of invaders, I shall be able to achieve some sort of truce

Because you see, I for one welcome ... (bah, that was too easy).

Re:The scary part is once we find them ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855778)

to prepare to fight off a hive mind of aliens I suggest reading the Ender seris of books that should help ya out :)

sorry could not resist that one.

AC

Re:Let's not project human attributes onto aliens. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855668)

This is actualy Stanislaw Lem's hypothesis (vide: Fiasco), not Geoffrey Miller's. :-)

Re:Let's not project human attributes onto aliens. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855750)

But if you have the wee above the eye then it's a rainy day every day :)

Re:Let's not project human attributes onto aliens. (3, Insightful)

hallucinogen (1263152) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855780)

There are 20 000 drops of water in a litre. Volume of a typical bucket is 10 litres. Thus there are 200 000 drops in a bucket. So, in cosmic terms 10 000 years is 1.5 drops in a bucket.

Sounds familar (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855372)

Do you think this guy saw the movie Idiocracy?

Re:Sounds familar (1)

pegdhcp (1158827) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855496)

Who did not see it nowadays. Interestingly Idiocracy is a kind of self fulfilling prophecy. Naturally it is easy to see oneself in shoes of Joe Bauers or Rita (although I liked that Guitar band in the arena so much, and it would be interesting to have Sara Rue as Attorney General if I were the President), and most people says that it is hopeless anyway, thus there is no need to breed :) after seeing the movie.

I hope it is a humorous article (2, Interesting)

hansraj (458504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855374)

All it takes is one individual who is not busy playing games otherwise.

Also, the article is dated May 1st, 2006. Is seed magazine run by the same guys running /.?

Familiar? (1)

Halster (34667) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855378)

Is Miller talking about Aliens, or is he talking about us? Becuase if he's right, the prognosis for humanity isn't that bright!

L8r.

Re:Familiar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855438)

L8r.

Gone playing video games?

He must spend too much time on games himself (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855382)

...because it seems to me he's completely lost touch with reality. Either that or he's still a teenager since he doesn't seem to understand the concepts of love and companionship in a relationship, especially one that gives rise to kids. There's more to producing children than just having sex. Also anyone who thinks pornography is a substitute for the real thing needs to get out more. Literally.

Re:He must spend too much time on games himself (3, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855396)

Meh, this is just the same old puritan crap all over again. Beware of pleasure! Pleasure is evil! Only this guy puts forth the secular version - pleasure shall not lead to eternal damnation, but rather to species extinction in this case. Nothing to see here.

Re:He must spend too much time on games himself (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855464)

Meh, this is just the same old puritan crap all over again.

He even scored a hat-trick: video games, fast food and pornography.

Re:He must spend too much time on games himself (3, Insightful)

neumayr (819083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855542)

Aren't you romantic.
The primary purpose of having a sexual relationship remains the continued survival of the species. Love and companionship - that you can get from friends, without the strain of an exclusive, longterm relationship that's ultimately founded on two people's need for sex and self reproduction, i.e. their instincts.
Naturally it's nice to reproduce, if it weren't the species would have died out a long time ago.

Re:He must spend too much time on games himself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855816)

if it weren't the species would have died out a long time ago.

Yet the powers that be do everything in their ... well, power ... to make it as hard as possible. Children have become a liability. Not to mention that in an increasingly corrupt world, having children is rather sadistic.

Re:He must spend too much time on games himself (1, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855818)

"Love and companionship - that you can get from friends"

Only someone who's never had a real relationship or is bitter from a break up would come out with that load of tripe.

"longterm relationship that's ultimately founded on two people's need for sex and self reproduction, i.e. their instincts."

Certainly, but since humans use contraception and have sex with no intention of having kids and some couples marry and decide not to have them we've obviously gone way beyond the biological imperative.

"Aren't you romantic."

Aren't you lonely.

Self correcting (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855384)

While those individuals at the higher end of the intellectual spectrum are not breeding, those at the other end of the bell curve are breeding prodigiously.

If the author is willing to say that any species will diverge into a higher-order brain function group and lower-order brain function group, I think he will have a hard time espousing such racist theories. However, his theory that advanced races will face extinction due to lack of reproduction is doomed from the outset given that lack of childbearing is only a problem among certain groups.

Simpler explanation (3, Informative)

Cold hard reality (1536175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855410)

((1 MW) / ((4 light year)^2)) * (100 (m^2)) = 6.98311557 × 10^-26 watts

So even if there are aliens in the closest star broadcasting using a 1 MW transmitter, the output here is way to low to measure.

They're probably sitting there wondering why they don't receive anything either.

Re:Simpler explanation (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855440)

They're probably sitting there wondering why they don't receive anything either.

Because we're sitting around playing video games?

Re:Simpler explanation (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855510)

((1 MW) / ((4 light year)^2)) * (100 (m^2)) = 6.98311557 × 10^-26 watts

But integrated over enough time the level will start to stand out from the noise. They just need to keep the signal going long enough.

Re:Simpler explanation (3, Insightful)

Cold hard reality (1536175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855534)

How much time? Years?

Oh, and they're right next to a star. So lots of noise.

OP failed Evolutionary Biology (5, Insightful)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855416)

This theory is ignorant, and wrong. Think about it for a second. Suppose you have a large population of sentients : not just individual beings, but competing societies and civilizations. Now, some of these populations succumb to the lures of computer games and fast food and porn more than others do. What does this cause? DIFFERENTIAL REPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS. The invisible hand of evolution correcting the problem, again. This may ultimately mean that the eventually 'victors' in the recent rat race (USians) lose to other societies that are better at breeding. (such as India)

No, the reason we don't see SETI signals is obvious. IF alien species are within our light cone, they are using communication systems that are indistinguishable from noise, since maximizing entropy in a radio signal allows you to pack the most data into an available slice of spectrum.

But, more likely, there are no alien sentients who have developed radio and the light has traveled to us already. (remember, anything we see now from earth is thousands to millions of years out of date) It took 3.5 billion years for life on earth to go from self replicating molecules to us, which is about 25% of the total age of the entire universe. In earlier eras, the Universe was much, much hotter and less hospitable to developing self replicating molecules (too much reactivity for stable self replication)

Re:OP failed Evolutionary Biology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855506)

No, the reason we don't see SETI signals is obvious. IF alien species are within our light cone, they are using communication systems that are indistinguishable from noise, since maximizing entropy in a radio signal allows you to pack the most data into an available slice of spectrum.

And from the other point of view, other intelligent life would have to be within 40 light years to see ours. On a galactic scale, that's not even outside of our 'backyard', so to speak.

Re:OP failed Evolutionary Biology (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855652)

No, the reason we don't see SETI signals is obvious. IF alien species are within our light cone, they are using communication systems that are indistinguishable from noise, since maximizing entropy in a radio signal allows you to pack the most data into an available slice of spectrum.

And from the other point of view, other intelligent life would have to be within 40 light years to see ours. On a galactic scale, that's not even outside of our 'backyard', so to speak.

Plus radio emissions are going down massively here and today, due to the analog TV (and eventually, radio) switch-off - we are already past peak radio emission output.

Eventually our everyday devices will use just the minimal amount of radio emission power needed to reach the next hop device and will use directional radio to conserve power.

Later on we might use extremely short-wave radio waves for better bandwidth (also called 'light'), for most of our everyday device communications, which only switches to lower frequency radio waves if an object blocks the line of sight. Almost none of that communication will escape the atmosphere in any detectable fashion.

So what we are talking about is an at most 50-100 years of burst of spontaneous, intelligent radio emissions, in the _whole life time_ of this civilization. Even assuming tens of thousands of extra-terrestical civilizations in our galaxy, that's statistically awfully short: one million years of random radio communications spread out in the past few billion years of the history of the Milky Way. That's a chance of 1:100 or worse that we'll be able to detect anything similarly spontanous in the next 100 years.

Furthermore, other civilizations might not even bother to send radio signals to such underdeveloped civilizations as us, preemptively.

They might just wait until they can see us terra-forming Mars (or wait until _we_ can detect _their_ planets), before firing up the transmitters for contact. When was the last time you seeked out an unknown person in the developing world here on planet Earth and called the person or sent an e-mail, inquiring about how he likes the slum, how he likes the lack of clean water and how he likes the war going on there and stuff? Our planet might be entirely uninteresting to the overwhelming majority of civilizations in more developed neighbourhoods of the galaxy.

Or most advanced civilizations might opt to mask themselves from casual radio observations, because their billion-years experience is that early civilizations fresh out of the oven of evolution tend to start with building dangerous stuff and tend to be rather unpredictable about the targets they hurl those things at. (such as nuclear devices)

We can tell one thing for sure: extra-terrestials are not crowding out there over-enjoyed from contacting fresh civilizations that invented the ability to do radio communications a short hundred years ago. They either do not exist in sufficient numbers, or they don't want to contact us in our current stage of development.

Re:OP failed Evolutionary Biology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855644)

"What does this cause? DIFFERENTIAL REPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS. The invisible hand of evolution correcting the problem, again."

Exactly. Except that the subpopulation that is still reproductively successful might not be a technological culture, in which case we still won't hear from them even if they persist on a home planet that was (until they went extinct) dominated by the holodeck-entranced population that didn't care about actual biological reproduction. It might mean a technological path is either a dead end (literally) or something that is eventually reversed (survival, but uncommunicative). Regardless, you're right that biological evolution will tend to work against it if any kind of differential reproductive success results.

Another possibility is that AI takes over, is so different its communication is unrecognizable to us, and it fundamentally doesn't care about biological sentients like us because it "already knows what will inevitably happen" (i.e. we will go extinct or give rise to another AI -- then maybe they'll start chatting). I suppose another possibility is that the AI is bound to take care of their biological originators and doesn't want to chat with other sentients in the universe because that could ultimately put their wards at risk.

Re:OP failed Evolutionary Biology (2, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855842)

Societies and technology have also evolved over time so that collapse whilst it remain a risk, in more modern more evolved societies, activities and practices can be established to stabilise societies and allow them to continue to evolve in a positive fashion. Simply birth control targeted at the most inept portions of society, say the supply free intoxicants conditional to consuming the incorporated oral contraceptives. In a similar fashion targeting certain psychological birth defects like psychopathy and narcissism and restricting the ability of those extreme anti-social destructive elements from continuing to influence society. The act of extending life also enforces greater stability upon society, as the older more experienced elements those with living memories of failed decisions are more dominant whilst also be more active (not physically weakened by age).

From an external viewpoint human society is likely to be viewed as still primitive due to it's inability to direct the continued evolution of it's societies in a more positive fashion. Demonstrated by it's continued desire to indulge in self destructive violence upon a global scale, for allowing those that do suffer from anti-social psychological conditions to have so great an influence upon their societies, for continuing to allow a minority to destroy the environment of the majority to feed insatiable egos of that minority and, for the deceit and dishonesty demonstrated at all levels of society.

Likely stoned gamers, who do not consume extremes of resources, who do not indulge in violent anti social activities, who do not demand the celebrity worship of others, who do not need to pollute the environment with super polluting cars, jets, mansions and yachts and who whilst gaming still contribute to society in a peaceful fashion, sharing thoughts and ideas, creating free content, sharing some of the work load without being a fanatic and not demanding that others work for them cheap, would likely be seen in a more positive light. After all that game play is often a way to escape from the hypocritical, destructive, antisocial, deceitful viciousness of all the other short hair, crested, cranky, rock throwing monkeys.

Call me bizarre but theory sounds backwards (5, Funny)

mnmlst (599134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855418)

I am a highly evolved alien living among the humans. While I will admit to a mild addiction to Slashdot and Drudgereport (some days these are very similar), I don't play computer games or watch television. I literally have no time for either as I am so busy watching the humans and pondering all the different recipes that would make them tasty. Not to mention that as an alien, I haven't figured out how to make much money and can't afford cable or satellite TV. I tried "bunny ears" for a while, but they quit working last Spring and I haven't missed the TV much. When I did watch it, I just kept seeing fellow aliens (Nadya Suleman, Marilyn Manson, Lady Gaga, Sheyla Hershey, et al.) entertaining the humans.

This theory that aliens are highly evolved and addicted to electronic entertainment is backwards because we know better than to end up sitting in Plato's Cave staring at flickering images when there is a marvelous world waiting to be viewed and humans, fattened in caves while watching flickering images, waiting to be devoured.

Re:Call me bizarre but theory sounds backwards (1)

rdwulfe (890032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855872)

Oh, I see. You work for Hulu, huh?

Maybe the aliens are fetichist (1)

cuby (832037) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855420)

And live a life of amusement. Maybe they have better things to do than to speculate uselessly.

Simple: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855424)

why 40 years of intensive searching for extraterrestrial intelligence have yielded nothing: no radio signals, no credible spacecraft sightings, no close encounters of any kind

Because there are no aliens. Duh!

Re:Simple: (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855562)

Nazi occultist opened a portal, stole tech, tested and built a flying disc back in the early 1940's.
A forerunner of the CIA found the research after the war and built a fleet.
Generations have been probing and mutilating their way around the world ever since, trying to find their inner German "door" to make the next big leap forward.

Re:Simple: (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855718)

That's exactly what they want you to think. Hang on, BRB, mysterious glow in the sk.kz'&^u ] @.
n o c a r r i e r

Re:Simple: (3, Funny)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855868)

why 40 years of intensive searching for extraterrestrial intelligence have yielded nothing: no radio signals, no credible spacecraft sightings, no close encounters of any kind

Self-replicating planet-destroying machine army released in a war 3 billion years ago are exterminating any sign of intelligent life as soon as they see the first radio waves. The closest were 41 light years from us.

Technological singularities (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855426)

I'd think all these intelligent races would end up with a technological singularity. And maybe the super-intelligent artificial entities that result out of that, have reasons to cloak themselves...

Re:Technological singularities (1)

Kwitset (1557153) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855706)

I think that a post singularity civilization might, instead of exploring the cosmos, disappear into "inner space" by uploading their minds into computers, and live out their lives in virtual fantasy worlds. This idea is explored in Peter F. Hamilton's SF novel "The Dreaming Void".

man'kind' addicted, chromosomally mutated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855432)

change is in the air, everywhere, see you there?

never a better time to consult with/trust in your creators, who, among (billions of) other things, can change EVERY THING in the proverbial wink of an eye.

ever got the feeling you're being watched? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855434)

i'm telling you they area among us. watching, waiting... and when time is ripe, when humanity is at peace, when our technology reaches a certain treshold, we'll be confronted and conformized to the intergalactic community.

Decision point may be now (2, Interesting)

mattr (78516) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855454)

Maybe so. It might seem unlikely an advanced race would be so dumb.

Perhaps industrial infrastructure will be focused on digitized minds in a virtual landscape, and will not be "wasted" on supporting organic bodies and fixing them over the centuries. Maybe digital life is going to be much richer and more expanded than what can fit inside an organic brain.

On the other hand, we've had the public Internet for 15 years, say they've had it for 15,000 years.
It's hard to understand what their issues will be.

However one possible link is that there may be a point of decision near the beginning of Internet development for all societies, which characterizes all history after that.

Not to be tongue in cheek, but it could be summarized as DRM/MAFIAA/ACTA/ANTI-TERROR/WTF vs. OpenSource/Level Playing Field/Honesty&Balance. As time progresses, the DRM..WTF government-industrial players control the lifeblood of the society, whether it is controlling software/entertainment or perhaps with more advanced technology, controlling a person's biological makeup, or perhaps your life as a simulated person in a planet-wide computer.

The organics will (as some recent novels have suggested) be on the outside of mainstream society and will have only the OpenSource technologies and resources available to them. They probably do not have extra resources lying around enough to waste on contacting other civilizations, especially if their communications are considered equivalent to caveman grunts by most all of the listeners.

This just in . . . (0, Troll)

Gabrill (556503) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855462)

Another philosopher^H^H^H^H scientist has theorised another possible reason for mankind not perceiving an alien intelligent species. Next up, another possible reason that God may or may not exist. After that, discussion about the (un)certainty of the big bang.

Re:This just in . . . (1)

neumayr (819083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855592)

Don't go bashing philosophy. It's the mother of all science, after all.

No way to anticipate where philosophical thought can lead, dismissing it doesn't seem like a very smart thing to do.

And then Slaanesh is born... (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855466)

Sign me up for the Imperial Guard.

What are you expecting to see? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855474)

Fermi wasn't just talking about radio signals. Colonizing an entire galaxy doesn't take a whole lot of time, on geological timescales. When Fermi posed the question, where are they, he was wondering where the obvious mega-engineering is. How come we don't see any dismantled planets? Where's the stars blotted out by solar collectors?

I think all these questions have one simple answer: you're asking the wrong question.

Radio is primitive and totally unsuitable for an interstellar civilization to be using. They'd have something better. We've only had it for 100 years and we're already going dark.. that's just too short a time to expect an alien civilization to detect us, that way. It seems fair to imagine we'll never detect each other that way.

Although I suppose technological alien civilizations, and us eventually too, will build large colonies in free space, I doubt we'd be able to detect them. Not now and not back when Fermi was asking where they are. In about 25 years we might build some interesting gravitational lensing telescopes out at 500 au, and that may let us image the surface of planets around other stars.

The last one, Dyson spheres, they're a great idea but they make little sense for a civilization that has mastered interstellar flight. Just like radio, they're more likely to have something better.

Where can I.. (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855478)

.. add aliens as friends? Which social networking site is that?

So we can get a sense of their ideal life they try to portray through pictures.. Or maybe mental projections..

The idea seems like bullshit though. In a overpopulated world, there is excess and no real reason to reproduce as there are alot of people already occupied with that. The globalization, and more independant thinking, disposable "friends" in very densely populated regions (you can walk off and meet other strangers, and keep on doing that for a very long time without exhausting the "pool of people".). Hence people will tend to "seek out pleasures" more in such dynamics.

In more rural area's, there are different values and different aspects are more important. You'll see more closely tied together communities and families and more the "traditional lifestyle", because it's more needed to rely on eachother. (instead of popping into a 7/11 quickly and be able to live very detached from everything.)

So, in my view, there is "no need" right now to reproduce or maintain bounds like you would if your race is declining and there is more reason to seek out support with eachother for being able to maintain in your living state. We have excess and excess of humans.

Post-Consumerist Evolution (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855484)

TFS: He says the fundamental problem is that an evolved mind must pay attention to indirect cues of biological fitness, rather than tracking fitness itself, and that although evolution favors brains that tend to maximize fitness (as measured by numbers of great-grandkids), no brain has capacity enough to do so under every possible circumstance.

Extinction just means insufficient evolution.

hi (-1, Offtopic)

maryastell (1790620) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855486)

Great info. Putting up a blog post about this and the other recent articles on bankruptcy. Keep up the good work! Get Awesome Massage [squidoo.com]

I wonder what alien video games look like? (1)

nicomede (1228020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855500)

On Soviet Xen, Gordon Freeman kills YOU!

Re:I wonder what alien video games look like? (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855858)

I'm guessing towards the end of the game you teleport to a strange world populated by weird bipedal creatures and unusually strong gravity where you get to walk everywhere instead of jumping tediously from platform to platform.

40 Years is not a long time (1)

Davemania (580154) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855518)

Compare to the size and the age of universe, the likely length of an alien civlization, 40 years is not a long time to search for anything, let alone being in the right time peroid to detect a alien civlization.

hi (-1, Offtopic)

jennajameson15 (1790660) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855524)

That was awesome! Probably one of the more interesting reads in awhile. green planet [squidoo.com]

Idiocracy... (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855536)

... explains our future even better than the best scientists. Mike Judge is a prophet!

Re:Idiocracy... (1)

neumayr (819083) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855620)

Only from a very arrogant, elitist standpoint.
Every human, no matter how dumbed down, has some kind of drive to accomplish something. That drive was not taken into consideration in Idiocracy's portrayal of the future.

There may be hope (1)

JBL2 (994604) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855546)

"Who here doesn't think a TNG-style Holodeck would lead to the downfall of our civilization?" Don't forget: Lt. Barclay (the one who was always in some sorry circumstance -- turned into a giant spider, or whatever) eventually managed to pull himself out of that trap. If he can do it, so can Humanity!

Not really. (3, Insightful)

Kashgarinn (1036758) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855578)

This might be a off-topic rant, but..

I don't think people of our current society really understand how good we have it..

Every single living species on this earth have had to constantly forage for food, shelter, or mates.. constantly. And we had to do the same for a very, very long time. I'm not talking about going hunting once a week, I'm talking before that, when we had to spend most of our time foraging for food, that means from 6 in the morning, until 8 in the night, going from place to place for shelter, or for food.

This is what wild animals have to do, and this is what we had to do.

Our current situation, where we have specialized and been able to organize our efforts so much that you only need to work 8 hours a day to feed, clothe and even pamper yourself without any real worry is what has given us the chance to specialize into other areas which are of no real concern to our immediate needs.

Our efforts throughout the ages have given us more spare time to do with as we please, and we've reached a certain equilibrium where we can both fend for our needs, and enjoy things in our spare time.

Would we really be even interested in things in outer space, if we had to worry about us and our kids being ill and hungry for weeks on end?

We are very Naive about our own efforts because we aren't the people who had to work out all the details, all the systems, all the inventions which puts us where we are today, it's our forefathers and mothers which gave us their legacy in hopes of a better future and good people of our day which are carrying the torch.

It's a miracle that we've come this far, and our success might just be the first chance life in the universe is able to be this stable and this prosperous to be able to even think outside our basic needs.

Never forget how lucky we are that we can work together for a better world. I just hope we can do it even better in the future.

Re:Not really. (3, Insightful)

Archtech (159117) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855712)

I don't think people of our current society really understand how good we have it.

Damn straight. Nor do they understand how tiny a fraction of the human race, past and present, were responsible for all the practical improvements that have led to our current state of (fairly) contented security. It's getting on for 40 years since Heinlein wrote that "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects". How many of those things can YOU do? (I could change a diaper, balance very simple accounts, take orders with an ill grace, program a computer very crudely, and maybe a couple of other things. Possibly par for the course?)

How would we get on if we suddenly found ourselves naked and without possessions, alone or in a small group in the middle of nowhere? Even if we didn't freeze, roast, die of thirst, or get eaten within hours or days, what would be our chances of making it for even one year? Anyone fancy himself as Robinson Crusoe?

Reflect on those matters for a while, and then consider how unbelievably our Stone Age ancestors acquitted themselves. If you look down on them you merely demean yourself. They were very probably twice the men we are.

Quite interesting read, until ... (1)

gerddie (173963) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855584)

I found the article quite interesting, until he wrote:

This, too, may be happening already. [...] fundamentalists [...] already understand exactly what the Great Temptation is, and how to avoid it.

I just can't take someone seriously, who pretends that fundamentalists have a viable answer to problems of society.

So which is it? (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855594)

Are you saying we're doomed to fail in the future; or, is the future now?

Idiocracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855598)

Sounds like the plot of that movie... and like any great satire has a faint of reality lurking behind.

There is no cosmic plot (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855618)

If you believe that evolution has some kind of goal, then you might just be more of an "intelligent design"-er than you think.
BTW you can turn any agenda into a theory on why there's no aliens.
Maybe they all succumbed to global warming.
Maybe they all elected leaders who were born in Kenya.
See how easy that is?

No mothers? (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855622)

So are we assuming that aliens don't have mothers? Because if I played too many computer games I got thrown out.

They are probably out there in there puny spaceships because they were send out and - if we are lucky - they are wondering what to do after playing space-ball.

think about it... (1)

mayberry42 (1604077) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855628)

This is the most rediculous theory I've heard in a long time. Why does he assume that alien beings not only evolve like Earth-like beings, but also have the same, identical characteristics of humans? If we send alien signals to cats, would they respond back? i think not. Do they sit on their kitty-asses playing Wii? not a chance. and yet they exist.

There are way too many variables and unknowns for us to simply conclude that "aliens are playing video games" or "engaging in excessive consumerism" as the reasons for no contact. Come to think of it, this theory is stinking of we-must-take-care-of-ourselves-if-we-want-to-survive propaganda.

Whatever. this article is too retarded for me to further waste my time on.

Suggestion to earthlings: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855632)

DONT DATE ROBOTS [youtube.com]

Virtual realities and human needs (2, Interesting)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855636)

There are several SF stories around Utopias/Distopias where most humans spend all their time immersed in some kind of ultra realistic VR environment, typically linked via some kind of direct brain feed. Basically a realistic enough VR environment, thanks to our ability do immerse in it and forget that it's not real, can fulfill all the psychological needs of an individual, more so even than reality since it has fewer barriers and does not suffer from the limitations of normal societal structures (in human society there are only a limited number of positions of a given type, for example Village Chief, but in a VR environment you can use NPCs to create as many virtual societies as you want and as such as many slots of a given type as you want).

There are quite a number of natural limitations to a scenario where all mankind lives in VR:
- Natural selection would remove from the genetic pool those that spent all their time in VR, since they wouldn't reproduce.
- Physical needs would still have to be catered for. This means that things still have to be produced (like food). The VR environments, being targetted at satisfying the individual would be highly unproductive, so full automated means of production would have to exist, and they would need to be fully fed from some for of free energy.
- As long as there are multiple nations, unless ALL of them "went into VR" at the same time, the ones that didn't would simply march their armies into the land of ones that did and take over.

That said, for exploration of the unknow to stop or slow significantly, all that it takes is for the Explorer types amongst us - the same kind of people that 3 or 4 centuries ago would be jumping into boats and travelling to unexplored lands, and the same kind that nowadays would drive us to explorer space - to fulfill their drive to explore in VR environments which one miht argue already happens in part. It's thus quite possible that this will keep Human Society in the period of stagnation with regards to expanding our physical borders of knowledge in which it currently is. In the extreme, having lost all our drive to physically go out and explore, humans could turn their backs to space forever.

That such a scenario could occur in alien societies is not beyond the realm of possibility. However, there are other drivers for exploration (conquest, material wealth, overcrowding, maybe even religious reasons) and the idea that all alien societies will sooner or later fall to the trap of "satiation of the need to explore by VR environments" is far fetched.

Then again one might also argue that the causal relation is actually the reverse:
- Human Society being in a period of stagnation with regards to expanding our physical borders of knowledge is not caused by Explorer types finding saciety in VR environments but instead said Explorer types are driven to "find their fix" in VR environments because we are currently not expanding our physical borders of knowledge.

Brilliance (2, Interesting)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855642)

My favourite line from an excellent old physics book called "From the Black Hole to the Infinite Universe".

"Yes, there are aliens but they don't want to talk to us. Have you tried communicating with ants lately?"

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Hole-Infinite-Universe/dp/0816233233 [amazon.com]

> They don't need Sentinels to enslave them in a Matrix; they do it to themselves, just as we are doing today.

Damned brilliant article. Scary when you laugh at the funny man in the picture and then you realize it's you.

(LOL. I can't wait to update my Facebook about this!)

This about games or aliens? (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855646)

There is a reason why we haven't yet had wide scope verification of so called alien existence, but it will happen. And when it does, everyone will understand why up until it happens why it didn't happen sooner.

Solar flares, polar shift, galactic alignment & more happening in the cosmos does fall into the scope of real science. Mayan Calendar dates it too, as does many other religions and beliefs, ie, I Ching, bible revelation (a revolution), etc..

We are experiencing our own polar shift as the north pole continues to shift southward. This effect the magnetic field of the earth breaking it up to some degree. This magnetic field is part of what gives us protection from such things as solar flares.

The solar flares, if a large one hits earth directly it will be like a big EMP blast knocking out electronic equipment, including Slashdot oh my, notably communication. A strong enough one and it can burn the surface a bit too. And we do have weakened atmosphere issues we created.

These events of course produce radiated energy summed, but to what sum effect it will have on us is not yet known.

And if the sum total effect is that it pushes us to our next transition in evolution, such a transition would not be the first time. Julian Jaynes identified the transition from the bicameral mind to the unicameral mind where consciousness came about as well as our ability to develop higher levels of abstraction and deception. We also had a transition in language of mathematics when we moved from the roman numeral system to the zero inclusive decimal system and furthermore other numbering systems such as binary. Major advances became possible, including the development of computers as we have today.

The next transition of course requires a need to do so, a motove for us to make such a move. And we may very well have real physical things happening to cause such. But to what state of our evolution?

A new level of awareness and communication on a regular basis. The opening up of our subconscious into our consciousness. Telepathy and to some extent Psychokinesis.

We would be like children needing guidance, and we would get it from those who already exist in such a awareness state. We are going to find out we are not alone and on a wide public scale, undeniable. But they won't be responsible for the events that cause our consciousness to expand as that will be due natural events.

The closer this turning point gets the more who will start experiencing their thoughts converting to reality.

And what sort of games will we play then, Global Thermal Nuclear War?
Careful what you think, it might just manifest.

It's really hard to recognize brilliance (2, Insightful)

Archtech (159117) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855674)

But for my money, Geoffrey Miller has it. Try reading his book "The Mating Mind". I just quickly scanned "Why We Haven't Met Many Aliens", and it looks like one of those astonishingly simple perceptions that is absolutely right and immensely important.

For the past 25 years, give or take, I have been studying the software industry and, to a lesser extent, IT in general and its effects on human society as a whole. Pretty much my number one conclusion has been that we have accomplished far less than we might have done, because of the overwhelming tendency to treat everything as entertainment. As Larry Ellison said a while back, software is one of the very few areas of technology that are more fashion-conscious than women's clothes. Why is that? An important sub-question, under that general heading, is how did Microsoft become the world's most influential IT company?

Miller has grasped a very important truth, and we need to take him seriously. (Of course, it might be more fun and more profitable - as well as amusingly self-referential - to make a computer game out of his scenario).

The Holodeck would be the ultimate Darwin tool (1)

VShael (62735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855708)

It might be the single most humane way to reduce the human population down to manageable numbers and get rid of the pleasure-seeking mouth breathers.

We'd finally be left with a population for whom the pursuit of meaningless virtual pleasure isn't the be-all and end-all of their existence.

We'd be left with some artists, some engineers, probably all the mathematicians, and people who like other people...

I really don't see a problem with it.

Speak for yourself, jerkface (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855714)

Huh? I don't play computer games. I consider them childish and a waste of time - I've simply outgrown them. Once in a while I'll pull out the oldwarez and indulge in nostalgia, but otherwise no. Maybe this guy has his head so far up his ass, he has no idea that other people aren't like him and his friends?

Seriously, fuck computer games. I'm talking about sitting in a Matrix-like pod with IV food supply, automatic waste elimination, and a brain probe that continuously stimulates the pleasure center.

Could it be... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855730)

...they are simply ignoring us? You see the problem is our egos are so frickin big that we consider ourselves to a species worthy of connecting with. Take a look around..Take a look at how we treat each other, other species, the planet around us. What makes us think we are such a great species to connect with? If 'they' exist they probably think we are scum. Possibly even in the same way we consider ourselves so much superior than other creatures on this planet. The problem being that we consider our superiority only in terms of ourselves not the universe at large.

We are in a zoo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31855736)

Assume there is intelligent life in many places in the galaxy; thousands of civilizations exist:
Given that life can have started on countless other planets at least a billion years earlier than on earth, it is logical to assume that many of them are way ahead of us at least in technology. The computer revolution has only been going for 60 years now, image what tech looks like in 1000 years, or a million.
Civilizations that predate us with millions of years are garanteed to have met each other long ago. Any wars, or cultural or technological exchanges must have happened also very long ago already (millions of years or more), and what most likely exists now is some form of status quo, a stable peaceful situation. They will not come here for our resources, because there are way more resources in the astroid belt, the Oort cloud or the gas giants (water, ores, hydrogen/helium).

If they do come to Earth, they are likely interested in the life on earth, maybe humans, or possible our plants, animals, sea creatures.
Direct contact can easily destroy the lesser evolved culture, see the many historical examples of this (indians). Also bringing humans in large numbers into their culture might upset things for them.
Of course it is possible that people, or whole tribes, have been taken by aliens long ago to somewhere else. For this reason it could be that humans are living in large numbers elsewhere in the galaxy. It could be that we are being visited by extraterrestrial humans, or some evolved posthuman species.

In any case it seems to me that ET will keep their distance, studies us at leasure. It may very well be a universal law: don't interfere with the natives. It may be that they interfere with Americans a little more, abduct one once in a while because who is going to believe an American? ;-)

In other words: we are likely in a zoo.

My theory is we are quarantined until such time that we are ready, matured.
We still have brutal wars amongst ourselves. We have no serious form of global government. Therefore if ET suddenly landed on our major airports, all governments would scramble to gain access to alien tech to gain advantage. A new weapons race would be sure to follow. A new global war could very well result from that. If life in the universe and ET in our galaxy is ubiquitous, they probably know this. They likely have a whole science devoted to what happens after contact. Unless they want to destroy us, they likely take things really slowly.
We do not share resources in a fair or rational way, and we are destroying our natural environment rapidly. I sometimes wonder if they would come to intervene, save us from ourselves, but I think not. Maybe if there are other _humans_ out there (descendants from humans taken away many generations ago), that they would care. I think ET has seen it thousands of times ago, and any species not willing to save itself is likely not worth saving, or cannot be saved anyway (it always fails, for instance).

I have always found the Fermi paradox argument stupid and short sighted. It completely disregards the possible interactions between multiple ET civilizations and the formation of a stable situation, and the existence of protocols for dealing with upcoming species like humans.

So, in short they are not showing themselves (much) because doing so would be very unwise.

Fermi's Paradox isn't. (2, Insightful)

Inominate (412637) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855742)

Fermi's Paradox isn't so much a paradox as what one would expect.

Space travel is hard and takes a LONG time. Galaxy spanning empires are unlikely to exist without unknown physics being used. Any interstellar civilization bound to physics we know would be unable to spread very far, or very fast, as the time needed for travel and communication are enormous. A civilization able to harness any sort of practical near-light or faster than light space travel, radio waves would likely also have totally unknown communication methods.

A civilization bound to physics we understand would have no use with radio waves for interstellar communication. It requires a tremendous amount of power, virtually all of which is wasted. Not to mention the noise and interference with shorter range communication that radio is good for. The only use an interstellar civilization would have for sending radio waves over interstellar distances would be specifically for the purpose of communication with unknown civilizations.

Given our current level of technology, we do have a device which is fairly close to ideal for interstellar communication. Lasers. Far more of the energy you pump into the beam will arrive at the destination, requiring far less power than a radio transmitter. One obvious side effect of this is that any interstellar communication going on out there would be invisible unless directed at us.

The more important question... (1)

Wiarumas (919682) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855758)

The more important question is, in these "video games" are humans NPCs, quest givers, or killable mobs?

And if we are, what kind of loot do we drop?

I saw that theory on Futurama (2)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855770)

In the "Don't that Robots" propaganda video !

Simpler explanation (1)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855794)

It takes a very long time to develop faster-than-light (or better) technology but in every case before a civilization can do so, they are wiped out by a gamma-ray burst.

Even colonizing the outer planets won't be enough, they (we) would have to spread across the galaxy and outside the home galaxy to survive gamma-ray bursts.

Preposterous (1)

kronosopher (1531873) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855800)

I find this theory preposterous and a piss poor attempt to expose real human problems by superimposing dining plates on pictures of internet cafes.

Seriously, what makes the article author think we have any basis for understanding or drawing comparisons from super-intelligent, super-advanced sentient creatures who have never once concretely manifested themselves to us. There are a VERY few select group of humans throughout history which I'd even consider being super-intelligent, so we have very little, practically no basis of comparison. That is of course, unless you believed William Cooper [wikipedia.org] , in which case you probably are an alien or a high-level operative of the NWO.

too right (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855808)

From TFA:

Heritable variation in personality might allow some lineages to resist the Great Temptation and last longer. Some individuals and families may start with an “irrational” Luddite abhorrence of entertainment technology, and they may evolve ever more self-control, conscientiousness and pragmatism. They will evolve a horror of virtual entertainment, psychoactive drugs and contraception. They will stress the values of hard work, delayed gratification, child-rearing and environmental stewardship. They will combine the family values of the religious right with the sustainability values of the Greenpeace left. Their concerns about the Game of Life will baffle the political pollsters who only understand the rhetoric of status and power, individual and society, rights and duties, good and evil, us and them.

This, too, may be happening already. Christian and Muslim fundamentalists and anti-consumerism activists already understand exactly what the Great Temptation is, and how to avoid it. They insulate themselves from our creative-class dreamworlds and our EverQuest economics. They wait patiently for our fitness-faking narcissism to go extinct. Those practical-minded breeders will inherit the Earth as like-minded aliens may have inherited a few other planets. When they finally achieve contact, it will not be a meeting of novel-readers and game-players. It will be a meeting of dead-serious super-parents who congratulate each other on surviving not just the Bomb, but the Xbox.

Maybe he's more right than he thinks... Perhaps this is exactly what's happening out there, except that it doesn't stop at becoming temptation-resistant super-parents.

Look at how fundamentalists act here on Earth...

Perhaps these alien species have indeed bred some anti-technology fundamentalists, who go on to destroy that technology and revert their civilization to something more in-line with their beliefs. Which then means that they don't have the high-tech goodies necessary to show up on our doorstep.

Perhaps the universe is populated by Luddites.

maybe we are the aliens, going through level x (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855848)

if i had a sufficiently advanced technology available, i would put all kids through virtual reality programs instead of school. it would probably be a lot easier to control. the many ways of the flying spaghetti monster are unknown.

I have a better explanation (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31855882)

Maybe the aliens just stay away from Earth in order to avoid being infected by popular mainstream rap artists carrying viruses such as ILOVEYOU and Monkey.B.

+1 for creativity. -1 million for lack of supporting evidence.

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