Semantic Apocalypse in Space?

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sciborg2

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« on: March 03, 2020, 02:16:39 am »
Why We Should Think Twice About Colonizing Space

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In one article in Futures, which was inspired by political scientist Daniel Deudney’s forthcoming book Dark Skies, I decided to take a closer look at this question. My conclusion is that in a colonized universe the probability of the annihilation of the human race could actually rise rather than fall.

Consider what is likely to happen as humanity hops from Earth to Mars, and from Mars to relatively nearby, potentially habitable exoplanets like Epsilon Eridani b, Gliese 674 b, and Gliese 581 d. Each of these planets has its own unique environments that will drive Darwinian evolution, resulting in the emergence of novel species over time, just as species that migrate to a new island will evolve different traits than their parent species. The same applies to the artificial environments of spacecraft like “O’Neill Cylinders,” which are large cylindrical structures that rotate to produce artificial gravity. Insofar as future beings satisfy the basic conditions of evolution by natural selection—such as differential reproduction, heritability, and variation of traits across the population—then evolutionary pressures will yield new forms of life.

But the process of “cyborgization”—that is, of using technology to modify and enhance our bodies and brains—is much more likely to influence the evolutionary trajectories of future populations living on exoplanets or in spacecraft. The result could be beings with completely novel cognitive architectures (or mental abilities), emotional repertoires, physical capabilities, lifespans, and so on.

In other words, natural selection and cyborgization as humanity spreads throughout the cosmos will result in species diversification. At the same time, expanding across space will also result in ideological diversification. Space-hopping populations will create their own cultures, languages, governments, political institutions, religions, technologies, rituals, norms, worldviews, and so on. As a result, different species will find it increasingly difficult over time to understand each other’s motivations, intentions, behaviors, decisions, and so on. It could even make communication between species with alien languages almost impossible. Furthermore, some species might begin to wonder whether the proverbial “Other” is conscious. This matters because if a species Y cannot consciously experience pain, then another species X might not feel morally obligated to care about Y. After all, we don’t worry about kicking stones down the street because we don’t believe that rocks can feel pain. Thus, as I write in the paper, phylogenetic and ideological diversification will engender a situation in which many species will be “not merely aliens to each other but, more significantly, alienated from each other.”

But this yields some problems. First, extreme differences like those just listed will undercut trust between species. If you don’t trust that your neighbor isn’t going to steal from, harm, or kill you, then you’re going to be suspicious of your neighbor. And if you’re suspicious of your neighbor, you might want an effective defense strategy to stop an attack—just in case one were to happen. But your neighbor might reason the same way: she’s not entirely sure that you won’t kill her, so she establishes a defense as well. The problem is that, since you don’t fully trust her, you wonder whether her defense is actually part of an attack plan. So you start carrying a knife around with you, which she interprets as a threat to her, thus leading her to buy a gun, and so on. Within the field of international relations, this is called the “security dilemma,” and it results in a spiral of militarization that can significantly increase the probability of conflict, even in cases where all actors have genuinely peaceful intentions.

TaoHorror

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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2020, 02:44:57 am »
Well, we are leaving, just a matter of when. When our sun red dwarfs, there's a good chance we'll survive it - just have to move the earth to a further away from the sun ( we're close to being able to do that now and we have millions of years to figure it out ). But even as a red dwarf, one day the sun will die and so will humanity if we don't get out of here. Now - if there's not such thing as interstellar travel ( i.e. not possible ), then we're screwed, there's simply no way to keep humans alive during light years of travel - maybe in the future we'll have the ability to seed other planets and there will be gaps of no living humans in the future, but that will depend on developing dependable technology that can survive years ( thousands? millions? ) of deep space travel with no accidents and no mechanized failures. If AI advances enough, maybe we can pull it off ( machines with advance abilities to address problems during deep space ). Anyways - we will be leaving some day and it's good to bring this stuff up now to assist in developing processes/agreements to handle the politics of divergent civilizations.
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sciborg2

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« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2020, 06:34:36 am »
Well I'd agree someone from earth is going into space...though we fleshy beings of organic chemistry may just be the cocoons for the space faring robots we'll create...

In fact I sometimes wonder if any life chilling in the void is biological...though the supposedly stark division between "organic" and "synthetic" may itself be a distinction that falls to Pessimistic Meta-Induction...

H

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« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2020, 12:51:01 pm »
For a moment, I thought this guy was going to go all Warhammer 40K on us.  Actually, I'm not sure he hasn't.  All I could say to that though would be "death to a false Emperor!"
I am a warrior of ages, Anasurimbor. . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury. -Cet'ingira

Wilshire

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« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2020, 01:14:53 pm »
A rundown of Cixin Liu's Chain of Suspicion, (or whomever came up with it if he didn't invent the term for his books).
One of the other conditions of possibility.

BeardFisher-King

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« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2020, 03:31:46 pm »
A rundown of Cixin Liu's Chain of Suspicion, (or whomever came up with it if he didn't invent the term for his books).

Good catch, Wilshire! That was my thought as well. "The Dark Forest" describes this very well.

"Hide well, cleanse well." Four simple, annihilating words.
"The heart of any other, because it has a will, would remain forever mysterious."

-from "Snow Falling On Cedars", by David Guterson