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Updated Drake Equation

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#51 llanitedave

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Posted 02 November 2019 - 01:00 PM

I have both books, and they’ve been influential in my own thinking.


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#52 Sleep Deprived

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Posted 02 November 2019 - 03:14 PM

I will have to read both of these books - not normally the genre that interests me, but I can always make an exception.

 

If we are going to talk about the odds of something happening - what are the odds that we, humans, are here at all?  Probably pretty long odds, yet here we are.  The fact is that whatever it took for us to be here, no matter how improbable, happened.  Whatever had to happen, happened.  Now... what had to happen?  If we don't KNOW what happened, then I suppose we can talk about odds.  Or if we are talking about an 'alternate history' we could always talk about odds in an attempt to model that alternative.  What I don't like about these odds-based models is that (based on our looooooong-odds existence) there are going to be many many events that would ACTUALLY happen that are against the odds.

 

I know there will be those that say that our odds for existence is 1:1 - for those, I suppose I am talking about the odds for all this to happen if we could 're-wind' time a couple (maybe even 13.7) billion years.  I am not a big believer in fate, and I am a big believer in chaos theory, so if we could 're-start' the Universe with EXACTLY the same initial conditions we would (well, PROBABLY) end up with a different current Universe.  YMMV.


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#53 llanitedave

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Posted 02 November 2019 - 03:30 PM

The odds of ANY species appearing in ANY given form are infinitesimal.  Humans are no more likely nor unlikely than are grizzly bears or monitor lizards in the overall scheme of things.  There are general forms, though, that might be expected to appear more often:  eyes, brains, and mouths at the front of the body, for example.

 

Even things we don’t think about may be unlikely.  Why a skeleton of bone, for example, or an exoskeleton of chitin?  Why couldn’t an internal skeleton be based on cellulose, or the stiff stem of a plant analogue be made of keratin, or maybe some other structural material we’ve never heard of?

 

There are a tremendous number of biological possibilities out there, and evolution on Earth will never do more than scratch the surface of what could have been, or what could be.


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#54 Sleep Deprived

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Posted 02 November 2019 - 03:56 PM

There are a tremendous number of biological possibilities out there, and evolution on Earth will never do more than scratch the surface of what could have been, or what could be.

I could not agree with you more!  And the rest of your post, too, for the most part.

 

Playing devil's advocate, though, maybe some of the examples (of alternate animal/plant make-up) are physically/chemically/biologically/etc impossible and we just don't know it yet.  I agree that Earth life has not even scratched the surface of what's possible, but our understanding of the universe is in its infancy.  Maybe the sum total of what is possible (the surface of which has only been scratched on Earth) is smaller than we think.  I can't defend that, of course.  Nobody really knows what is possible.

 

My point is - if we ever do find life elsewhere it will be profoundly (I use that word on purpose, and intend it with all of its deeper meanings...) interesting to see how similar, and at the same time how dis-similar, this life is compared to that on Earth.  I suspect the degree to which it is similar will teach us A LOT.  The dis-similarities will be equally enlightening.  IF we ever find ET life and are able to study it.


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#55 Ring_Singularity

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Posted 03 November 2019 - 04:10 AM

Dawkins considers this in The Ancestor's Tale (which I cannot recommend highly enough).

He proposes it as a worthwhile high level thought experiment, rather than as a serious modelling exercise.

How likely is flight? How likely is a segmented body plan? How likely is intelligence? How likely is multicellularity?

All these things have evolved multiple times, though some of them not a lot. You'd probably expect them in a rerun, though maybe not flight every time (only happened 4 times so far).

 

 

This was also the primary theme of Stephen J. Gould's 1992 book "Wonderful Life".   Gould argued that if you could rewind the tape of life's history the small contingencies of history would result in a different outcome.

You guys are awesome!  I must read these!  I watch PBS a lot and I highly recommend the latest NOVA episode where a fossil hunter found the first fossilized mammals after the K-T event in Colorado.  He was able to reconstruct the entire ecosystem and show how it rapidly evolved within 300,000 years after the big asteroid strike.  I cannot recommend it enough- it showed how flora evolution directly tied in to fauna evolution and how mammals rapidly grew in size from mouse sized to wolf sized when plants with legumes came into being.  I wonder how this would fit in with theoretical models of how life might evolve on exoplanets?


Edited by Ring_Singularity, 03 November 2019 - 04:10 AM.


#56 Ring_Singularity

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Posted 03 November 2019 - 04:11 AM

I have both books, and they’ve been influential in my own thinking.

On my reading list now, before I had heard of these books, I only had these ideas rumbling around inside my mind.



#57 Ring_Singularity

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Posted 03 November 2019 - 04:17 AM

I could not agree with you more!  And the rest of your post, too, for the most part.

 

Playing devil's advocate, though, maybe some of the examples (of alternate animal/plant make-up) are physically/chemically/biologically/etc impossible and we just don't know it yet.  I agree that Earth life has not even scratched the surface of what's possible, but our understanding of the universe is in its infancy.  Maybe the sum total of what is possible (the surface of which has only been scratched on Earth) is smaller than we think.  I can't defend that, of course.  Nobody really knows what is possible.

 

My point is - if we ever do find life elsewhere it will be profoundly (I use that word on purpose, and intend it with all of its deeper meanings...) interesting to see how similar, and at the same time how dis-similar, this life is compared to that on Earth.  I suspect the degree to which it is similar will teach us A LOT.  The dis-similarities will be equally enlightening.  IF we ever find ET life and are able to study it.

 

The odds of ANY species appearing in ANY given form are infinitesimal.  Humans are no more likely nor unlikely than are grizzly bears or monitor lizards in the overall scheme of things.  There are general forms, though, that might be expected to appear more often:  eyes, brains, and mouths at the front of the body, for example.

 

Even things we don’t think about may be unlikely.  Why a skeleton of bone, for example, or an exoskeleton of chitin?  Why couldn’t an internal skeleton be based on cellulose, or the stiff stem of a plant analogue be made of keratin, or maybe some other structural material we’ve never heard of?

 

There are a tremendous number of biological possibilities out there, and evolution on Earth will never do more than scratch the surface of what could have been, or what could be.

I've always wondered about a few (probably very low) possibilities ever since the Trappist-1 system was discovered:

 

1) What are the chances of sentient life developing on multiple worlds in the same system?

 

2) What are the chances of two different branches of life occurring on the same planet (even Earth)- like organic and inorganic?

 

3) What are the chances of life transferring between worlds by means other than technological (like panspermia or even a planet and a moon that share an atmosphere and life traveling back and forth between the two?)

 

4) What are the chances of sentient life developing on a planet that orbits a star inside a globular cluster (a la Nightfall) or a star that has a black hole as a binary or multiple star partner (a la Interstellar)?

 

5) What are the chances of sentient life existing on a rogue planet?

 

6) What are the chances of sentient life existing in interstellar space?

 

I use a program called Space Engine that models the known universe in 3D (including exoplanets and their atmospheres).  A lot of it is procedural since we dont know very much of course, but even so, the possibilities are truly mind-blowing!

 

I also use exoexplorer which does some of the same things and has an updated list of exoplanets.


Edited by Ring_Singularity, 03 November 2019 - 04:20 AM.


#58 InterStellarGuy

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 11:44 AM

I've always wondered about a few (probably very low) possibilities ever since the Trappist-1 system was discovered:

 

1) What are the chances of sentient life developing on multiple worlds in the same system?

 

2) What are the chances of two different branches of life occurring on the same planet (even Earth)- like organic and inorganic?

 

3) What are the chances of life transferring between worlds by means other than technological (like panspermia or even a planet and a moon that share an atmosphere and life traveling back and forth between the two?)

 

4) What are the chances of sentient life developing on a planet that orbits a star inside a globular cluster (a la Nightfall) or a star that has a black hole as a binary or multiple star partner (a la Interstellar)?

 

5) What are the chances of sentient life existing on a rogue planet?

 

6) What are the chances of sentient life existing in interstellar space?

 

I use a program called Space Engine that models the known universe in 3D (including exoplanets and their atmospheres).  A lot of it is procedural since we dont know very much of course, but even so, the possibilities are truly mind-blowing!

 

I also use exoexplorer which does some of the same things and has an updated list of exoplanets.

 

With respect to number 1, I imagine star systems with multiple worlds inhabited by intelligent civilizations would advance faster, as the motivation for developing interplanetary travel would be high when you can clearly see very early on that you are not alone. imagine being able to look at Mars and see signs of civilization, advancement. I imagine we would develop craft for visiting Mars rather quickly.


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#59 Ring_Singularity

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 04:58 PM

With respect to number 1, I imagine star systems with multiple worlds inhabited by intelligent civilizations would advance faster, as the motivation for developing interplanetary travel would be high when you can clearly see very early on that you are not alone. imagine being able to look at Mars and see signs of civilization, advancement. I imagine we would develop craft for visiting Mars rather quickly.

That reminds me of some classic sci fi I've read where we did just that!



#60 rekokich

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Posted 27 November 2019 - 01:25 PM

https://phys.org/new...ed-animals.html



#61 llanitedave

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Posted 27 November 2019 - 05:11 PM

Makes sense.  Evolution usually proceeds by embellishing features that already exist, and that's true of modern creatures in the embryonic stage.  The fact that there are so many more adult forms than there are embryonic forms has already hinted at this deep primitive history we share with other animals.  Nice to see decent examples of the ancestors.


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#62 BillP

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Posted 28 November 2019 - 12:10 PM

 

Scientifically not much can be said of this yet as just no evidence to support one way or the other.  As the article ends: "Either way, fossils of Caveasphaera tell us that animal-like embryonic development evolved long before the oldest definitive animals appear in the fossil record."  All that appears to be the case is that now they have discovered evolving embryos.  Those could have resulted in adult evolved organisms or not.  Just can't say given how spotty the fossil record is.  Interesting find though.


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#63 rekokich

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Posted 05 December 2019 - 02:17 PM

Is this intelligence ?

https://phys.org/new...elled-mind.html

 

A typical dictionary definition of intelligence is “the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge.” Intelligence includes the ability to benefit from past experience, act purposefully, solve problems, and adapt to new situations.


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#64 llanitedave

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Posted 05 December 2019 - 03:22 PM



Is this intelligence ?

https://phys.org/new...elled-mind.html

 

A typical dictionary definition of intelligence is “the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge.” Intelligence includes the ability to benefit from past experience, act purposefully, solve problems, and adapt to new situations.

Great article!

 

One of my favorite You Tube channels is Journey to the Microcosmos, which shows videos of behaviors among microscopic organisms.  It's amazing to me how purposeful some of those behaviors are.

 

There do seem to be, sometimes, a fairly complex repertoire of decisions that these critters can make.


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#65 Ring_Singularity

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Posted 21 December 2019 - 08:18 AM

Great article!

 

One of my favorite You Tube channels is Journey to the Microcosmos, which shows videos of behaviors among microscopic organisms.  It's amazing to me how purposeful some of those behaviors are.

 

There do seem to be, sometimes, a fairly complex repertoire of decisions that these critters can make.

Slime molds can build structures that bear a striking similarity to human architecture and single celled amoeba exhibit characteristics of high intelligence.  Not to mention how ants live (they keep pets!) and elephants burying their dead!



#66 Ring_Singularity

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Posted 21 December 2019 - 08:22 AM

Makes sense.  Evolution usually proceeds by embellishing features that already exist, and that's true of modern creatures in the embryonic stage.  The fact that there are so many more adult forms than there are embryonic forms has already hinted at this deep primitive history we share with other animals.  Nice to see decent examples of the ancestors.

I remember reading somewhere that our own embryos go through many evolutionary stages prior to birth.  Our own sperm look like tadpoles :p



#67 llanitedave

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Posted 21 December 2019 - 04:28 PM

I remember reading somewhere that our own embryos go through many evolutionary stages prior to birth.  Our own sperm look like tadpoles tongue2.gif

Funny, but frog sperm look like tadpoles too.  Frog eggs don't, though.


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#68 rekokich

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Posted 22 December 2019 - 12:27 AM

Great article!

 

One of my favorite You Tube channels is Journey to the Microcosmos, which shows videos of behaviors among microscopic organisms.  It's amazing to me how purposeful some of those behaviors are.

 

There do seem to be, sometimes, a fairly complex repertoire of decisions that these critters can make.

On all levels of life's complexity, survival depends on adapting to new situations, solving problems, and "remembering" past experiences. Life forms which do not rationally respond to changes in the environment fall victim to natural selection. Rational behaviors give the appearance of intelligent, purposeful action even in those species which lack the central nervous system where - as the humans understand it - reside consciousness and intelligence.

Lacking any kind of nervous system, unicellular organisms and plants manifest "chemical intelligence" whereby their physical actions are mediated by complex chemical reactions refined over billions of years of evolution.

Animals like jellyfish and corals, lacking a single centralized brain, have simple peripheral nervous systems, and manifest "neurological reflex intelligence" in addition to chemical intelligence.

Higher animals like humans, with a well developed brain, tend to interpret intelligence as actions based on conscious decisions. But, a vast, vast majority of our interactions with the environment are the result of unconsious reflex action and chemical reaction.

There is then "swarm intelligence" which emerges in large decentralized social systems of land animals, birds, fish, and insects, whereby a society as a whole makes decisions beyond the "understanding" of individual members. In fact, our human conscious intelligence may be no more than emergent behavior of the billions of central nervous system neurons.

Finally, there is "artificial intelligence". So far it has no consciousness, yet after numerous trials and errors, it is able to make statistically more reliable decisions than human experts in the fields like image interpretation, medicine, engineering, and finance. What concerns me about AI is that it has been widely accepted by our civilization without subjecting it to a prolonged period of natural selection to sort out artificial intelligence from artificial stupidity.


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#69 Ring_Singularity

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Posted 22 December 2019 - 02:24 AM

On all levels of life's complexity, survival depends on adapting to new situations, solving problems, and "remembering" past experiences. Life forms which do not rationally respond to changes in the environment fall victim to natural selection. Rational behaviors give the appearance of intelligent, purposeful action even in those species which lack the central nervous system where - as the humans understand it - reside consciousness and intelligence.

Lacking any kind of nervous system, unicellular organisms and plants manifest "chemical intelligence" whereby their physical actions are mediated by complex chemical reactions refined over billions of years of evolution.

Animals like jellyfish and corals, lacking a single centralized brain, have simple peripheral nervous systems, and manifest "neurological reflex intelligence" in addition to chemical intelligence.

Higher animals like humans, with a well developed brain, tend to interpret intelligence as actions based on conscious decisions. But, a vast, vast majority of our interactions with the environment are the result of unconsious reflex action and chemical reaction.

There is then "swarm intelligence" which emerges in large decentralized social systems of land animals, birds, fish, and insects, whereby a society as a whole makes decisions beyond the "understanding" of individual members. In fact, our human conscious intelligence may be no more than emergent behavior of the billions of central nervous system neurons.

Finally, there is "artificial intelligence". So far it has no consciousness, yet after numerous trials and errors, it is able to make statistically more reliable decisions than human experts in the fields like image interpretation, medicine, engineering, and finance. What concerns me about AI is that it has been widely accepted by our civilization without subjecting it to a prolonged period of natural selection to sort out artificial intelligence from artificial stupidity.

One day AI may undergo its own kind of '"evolution" with more advanced AI being created by AI itself, so many dangers lurk there....

 

But maybe one day we'll have an example of life based on silicon without having to look elsewhere in the universe :-P



#70 llanitedave

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Posted 22 December 2019 - 12:27 PM

On all levels of life's complexity, survival depends on adapting to new situations, solving problems, and "remembering" past experiences. Life forms which do not rationally respond to changes in the environment fall victim to natural selection. Rational behaviors give the appearance of intelligent, purposeful action even in those species which lack the central nervous system where - as the humans understand it - reside consciousness and intelligence.

Lacking any kind of nervous system, unicellular organisms and plants manifest "chemical intelligence" whereby their physical actions are mediated by complex chemical reactions refined over billions of years of evolution.

Animals like jellyfish and corals, lacking a single centralized brain, have simple peripheral nervous systems, and manifest "neurological reflex intelligence" in addition to chemical intelligence.

Higher animals like humans, with a well developed brain, tend to interpret intelligence as actions based on conscious decisions. But, a vast, vast majority of our interactions with the environment are the result of unconsious reflex action and chemical reaction.

There is then "swarm intelligence" which emerges in large decentralized social systems of land animals, birds, fish, and insects, whereby a society as a whole makes decisions beyond the "understanding" of individual members. In fact, our human conscious intelligence may be no more than emergent behavior of the billions of central nervous system neurons.

Finally, there is "artificial intelligence". So far it has no consciousness, yet after numerous trials and errors, it is able to make statistically more reliable decisions than human experts in the fields like image interpretation, medicine, engineering, and finance. What concerns me about AI is that it has been widely accepted by our civilization without subjecting it to a prolonged period of natural selection to sort out artificial intelligence from artificial stupidity.

Artificial Intelligence is sometimes able to beat our natural stupidity.

 

 

But not always!


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#71 Jim_V

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Posted 22 December 2019 - 08:35 PM

Can't you program in stupidity? 


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#72 llanitedave

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Posted 23 December 2019 - 09:56 AM

Can't you program in stupidity? 

I've done it quite often.


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#73 Ring_Singularity

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Posted 25 December 2019 - 12:56 PM

Artificial Intelligence is sometimes able to beat our natural stupidity.

 

 

But not always!

Yes, things like greed, thirst for power and making decisions based on short term benefit vs long term goals (for example choosing one's economic benefit over the realities of climate change, or corporate greed like DuPont dumping PFOA in the environment despite knowing about their links to causing birth defects, or the impact of pesticides like chlorpyrifos on the human brain.)  I would like AI to run our governments rather than corrupt politicians who take bribes from corporations.



#74 BillP

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 06:58 PM

I would like AI to run our governments rather than corrupt politicians who take bribes from corporations.

I guess this would be ok if one wanted to live "under" the rule of a thing that is devoid of feelings and emotions.  Feelings and emotions are what humanity is all about.  I sure wouldn't want to live under the rule of a calculator.  No thanks.  And if the AI engine tried to simulate feelings and emotions, like it does intelligence, well still no thanks!  ohlord.gif   Maybe those who colonize Mars can decide to live that way...they can make their spaceships be smart AI craft that rule over them when they land. help.gif


Edited by BillP, 04 January 2020 - 07:01 PM.


#75 llanitedave

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Posted 04 January 2020 - 09:40 PM

I guess this would be ok if one wanted to live "under" the rule of a thing that is devoid of feelings and emotions.  Feelings and emotions are what humanity is all about.  I sure wouldn't want to live under the rule of a calculator.  No thanks.  And if the AI engine tried to simulate feelings and emotions, like it does intelligence, well still no thanks!  ohlord.gif   Maybe those who colonize Mars can decide to live that way...they can make their spaceships be smart AI craft that rule over them when they land. help.gif

When the feelings and emotions of the rulers are focused on enriching and magnifying themselves at my expense, then I think I'd prefer the calculator.


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