Article

The Planetarium Hypothesis - A Resolution of the Fermi Paradox

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Abstract

A possible resolution to the Fermi Paradox is that we are living in an artificial universe, perhaps a form of virtual- reality `planetarium', designed to give us the illusion that the universe is empty. Quantum-physical and thermo- dynamic considerations inform estimates of the energy required to generate such simulations of varying sizes and quality. The perfect simulation of a world containing our present civilisation is within the scope of a Type K3 extraterrestrial culture. However the containment of a coherent human culture spanning ~100 light years within a perfect simulation would exceed the capacities of any conceivable virtual-reality generator.

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... In particular, fooling the agents may be challenging especially if the aim of the simulations is to produce progress in science and technology that apply to the external world, as a large degree of knowledge of it would be required. In the limit, a perfect simulation of our physical world may be required for perfect fooling, which would however limit the simulation (for an analysis of the requirements, see for example [3]). It is however possible that fooling is not necessary, or that perfect fooling can be achieved with simpler simulations. ...
... For example, even if an imperfect simulation was sufficient to fool the agents, knowledge of the external world will be required to achieve progress in science and engineering, which could allow the agents to ultimately discover the truth. Nonetheless, while a perfect simulation would be computationally prohibitive with our current technology, we might be able to achieve it in the future [3]. In any case, it seems unlikely that a perfect simulation will be required for the minimal simulation and thus to start the Temporal Singularity. ...
Conference Paper
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Provided significant future progress in artificial intelligence and computing, it may ultimately be possible to create multiple Artificial General Intelligences (AGIs), and possibly entire societies living within simulated environments. In that case, it should be possible to improve the problem solving capabilities of the system by increasing the speed of the simulation. If a minimal simulation with sufficient capabilities is created , it might manage to increase its own speed by accelerating progress in science and technology, in a way similar to the Technological Singular-ity. This may ultimately lead to large simulated civilizations unfolding at extreme temporal speedups, achieving what from the outside would look like a Temporal Singularity. Here we discuss the feasibility of the minimal simulation and the potential advantages, dangers, and connection to the Fermi paradox of the Temporal Singularity. The medium-term importance of the topic derives from the amount of computational power required to start the process, which could be available within the next decades, making the Temporal Singularity theoretically possible before the end of the century.
... In particular, fooling the agents may be challenging especially if the aim of the simulations is to produce progress in science and technology that apply to the external world, as a large degree of knowledge of it would be required. In the limit, a perfect simulation of our physical world may be required for perfect fooling, which would however limit the simulation (for an analysis of the requirements, see for example [3]). It is however possible that fooling is not necessary, or that perfect fooling can be achieved with simpler simulations. ...
... For example, even if an imperfect simulation was sufficient to fool the agents, knowledge of the external world will be required to achieve progress in science and engineering, which could allow the agents to ultimately discover the truth. Nonetheless, while a perfect simulation would be computationally prohibitive with our current technology, we might be able to achieve it in the future [3]. In any case, it seems unlikely that a perfect simulation will be required for the minimal simulation and thus to start the Temporal Singularity. ...
Preprint
Provided significant future progress in artificial intelligence and computing, it may ultimately be possible to create multiple Artificial General Intelligences (AGIs), and possibly entire societies living within simulated environments. In that case, it should be possible to improve the problem solving capabilities of the system by increasing the speed of the simulation. If a minimal simulation with sufficient capabilities is created, it might manage to increase its own speed by accelerating progress in science and technology, in a way similar to the Technological Singularity. This may ultimately lead to large simulated civilizations unfolding at extreme temporal speedups, achieving what from the outside would look like a Temporal Singularity. Here we discuss the feasibility of the minimal simulation and the potential advantages, dangers, and connection to the Fermi paradox of the Temporal Singularity. The medium-term importance of the topic derives from the amount of computational power required to start the process, which could be available within the next decades, making the Temporal Singularity theoretically possible before the end of the century.
... However, the absence of extraterrestrials could simply be because long-lived technological civilizations expand too slowly to have yet arrived at Earth [17, 18, 19]. Still other resolutions to the Fermi paradox suppose that extraterrestrials are actually widespread but have purposefully refrained from making contact [20, 21, 22, 23]. In both of these cases, there is nothing to preclude the possibility that extraterrestrials might remotely explore our Solar System using unpiloted probes. ...
... We often imagine that a benevolent extraterrestrial civilization might have our best interests in mind and avoid interfering with our primitive culture until we cross a certain threshold, such as the discovery of light-speed travel [20, 21] or our initiation of conversation with a nearby intelligent space probe [24]. An even more omnipotent extraterrestrial civilization might engineer a virtual planetarium that forces us to observe an empty universe [23], which would give us almost no chance at discovering their presence until they choose to reveal themselves to us. More mundane versions of the zoo hypothesis simply invoke the vastness of space to suggest that extraterrestrials or extraterrestrial technology could be hiding in the asteroid belt [25, 26, 27, 28] or other places in the Solar System [29, 30, 31] without us noticing. ...
Article
Extraterrestrial technology may exist in the Solar System without our knowledge. This is because the vastness of space, combined with our limited searches to date, implies that any remote unpiloted exploratory probes of extraterrestrial origin would likely remain unnoticed. Here we develop a probabilistic approach to quantify our certainty (or uncertainty) of the existence of such technology in the Solar System. We discuss some possible strategies for improving this uncertainty that include analysis of moon- and Mars-orbiting satellite data as well as continued exploration of the Solar System.
... In particular, fooling the agents may be challenging especially if the aim of the simulations is to produce progress in science and technology that apply to the external world, as a large degree of knowledge of it would be required. In the limit, a perfect simulation of our physical world may be required for perfect fooling, which would however limit the simulation (for an analysis of the requirements, see for example [3]). It is however possible that fooling is not necessary, or that perfect fooling can be achieved with simpler simulations. ...
... For example, even if an imperfect simulation was sufficient to fool the agents, knowledge of the external world will be required to achieve progress in science and engineering, which could allow the agents to ultimately discover the truth. Nonetheless, while a perfect simulation would be computationally prohibitive with our current technology, we might be able to achieve it in the future [3]. In any case, it seems unlikely that a perfect simulation will be required for the minimal simulation and thus to start the Temporal Singularity. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Provided significant future progress in artificial intelligence and computing, it may ultimately be possible to create multiple Artificial General Intelligences (AGIs), and possibly entire societies living within simulated environments. In that case, it should be possible to improve the problem solving capabilities of the system by increasing the speed of the simulation. If a minimal simulation with sufficient capabilities is created, it might manage to increase its own speed by accelerating progress in science and technology, in a way similar to the Technological Singularity. This may ultimately lead to large simulated civilizations unfolding at extreme temporal speedups, achieving what from the outside would look like a Temporal Singularity. Here we discuss the feasibility of the minimal simulation and the potential advantages, dangers, and connection to the Fermi paradox of the Temporal Singularity. The medium-term importance of the topic derives from the amount of computational power required to start the process, which could be available within the next decades, making the Temporal Singularity theoretically possible before the end of the century.
... However, many other resolutions to the Fermi paradox have been proposed [39,40]. These include the possibilities that complex life is a rare phenomenon [41], intelligent societies tend toward self-destruction [6,8], extraterrestrials are hiding from us [42,43], or extraterrestrial civilizations grow too slowly to have reached Earth [44,45]. Because we have not yet observed any ETI, Fermi's question still remains unresolved. ...
Article
Deliberate and unintentional radio transmissions from Earth propagate into space. These transmissions could be detected by extraterrestrial watchers over interstellar distances. This article analyzes the harm and benefits of deliberate and unintentional transmissions relevant to Earth and humanity. Comparing the magnitude of deliberate radio broadcasts intended for messaging to extraterrestrial intelligence (METI) with the background radio spectrum of Earth, we find that METI attempts to date have much lower detectability than emissions from current radio communication technologies on Earth. METI broadcasts are usually transient and several orders of magnitude less powerful than other terrestrial sources, such as astronomical and military radars, which provide the strongest detectable signals. The benefits of radio communication on Earth most probably outweigh the potential harm of detection by extraterrestrial watchers; however, the uncertainty regarding the outcome of contact with extraterrestrial beings creates difficulty in assessing whether or not to engage in long-term and large-scale METI.
... 17 For more on computational irreducibility see Wolfram (1984Wolfram ( , 2002. 18 Alternative solutions to the Fermi paradox include the idea that the Earth is a Type-1 or Type-2 simulation, and unbeknownst to us the real universe is teeming with unconcealed alien civilizations-see Baxter (2000) and Ball (1974) respectively. The simulation solutions to the Fermi paradox and the problem of evil are similar in that both derive from a conflict between how our universe seems to be, and how it should be given certain hypotheses (e.g. ...
Article
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That natural evils are plentiful in our world is impossible (plausibly) to deny. Why would a benevolent and all-powerful God allow such an obviously imperfect world to be created? I argue that the problem of evil in this form only seems serious and intractable because our science and technology are currently at comparatively primitive levels. Civilizations whose technological capabilities are significantly more advanced than our own will be able to create artificial worlds of their own in a variety of different ways. Given the very real possibility of world-makers who are non-divine, the problem posed by natural evil is very much diminished.
... We shall neglect the solipsist category arguing that our observed astrophysical reality is an illusion or supercomputer-like simulation (e.g. Baxter 2000) as well as the related class of hypotheses based on the assumption that extra-Solar System advanced technological civilizations are unobserved because they are intentionally hiding from humans (e.g., the "Zoo hypothesis"; Ball 1973). While these ideas can be true, they are next to useless in any practical scientific sense, being more related to the theological mode of thinking. ...
Article
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Can astrophysics explain Fermi's paradox or the "Great Silence" problem? If available, such explanation would be advantageous over most of those suggested in literature which rely on unverifiable cultural and/or sociological assumptions. We suggest, instead, a general astrobiological paradigm which might offer a physical and empirically testable paradox resolution. Based on the idea of James Annis, we develop a model of an astrobiological phase transition of the Milky Way, based on the concept of the global regulation mechanism(s). The dominant regulation mechanisms, arguably, are gamma-ray bursts, whose properties and cosmological evolution are becoming well-understood. Secular evolution of regulation mechanisms leads to the brief epoch of phase transition: from an essentially dead place, with pockets of low-complexity life restricted to planetary surfaces, it will, on a short (Fermi-Hart) timescale, become filled with high-complexity life. An observation selection effect explains why we are not, in spite of the very small prior probability, to be surprised at being located in that brief phase of disequilibrium. In addition, we show that, although the phase-transition model may explain the "Great Silence", it is not supportive of the "contact pessimist" position. To the contrary, the phase-transition model offers a rational motivation for continuation and extension of our present-day Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) endeavours. Some of the unequivocal and testable predictions of our model include the decrease of extinction risk in the history of terrestrial life, the absence of any traces of Galactic societies significantly older than human society, complete lack of any extragalactic intelligent signals or phenomena, and the presence of ubiquitous low-complexity life in the Milky Way.
... A popular class of explanations for this absence of observation involves speculation into the behaviour or sociology of ETI. For example, a solution known as the zoo hypothesis predicts that ETI civilization has set aside Earth as an undisturbed wildlife preserve [22], stealthily observing Earth (perhaps using a virtual planetarium [23]) and waiting for its inhabitants to cross a technological threshold before making themselves known [24]. A recent hypothesis involving common economic assumptions [25] proposed a solution derived from resource issues, concluding that ETI, like humans, will necessarily lack the patience required to conserve resources for space colonization. ...
Article
Full-text available
No present observations suggest a technologically advanced extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) has spread through the galaxy. However, under commonplace assumptions about galactic civilization formation and expansion, this absence of observation is highly unlikely. This improbability is the heart of the Fermi Paradox. The Fermi Paradox leads some to conclude that humans have the only advanced civilization in this galaxy, either because civilization formation is very rare or because intelligent civilizations inevitably destroy themselves. In this paper, we argue that this conclusion is premature by introducing the "Sustainability Solution" to the Fermi Paradox, which questions the Paradox's assumption of faster (e.g. exponential) civilization growth. Drawing on insights from the sustainability of human civilization on Earth, we propose that faster-growth may not be sustainable on the galactic scale. If this is the case, then there may exist ETI that have not expanded throughout the galaxy or have done so but collapsed. These possibilities have implications for both searches for ETI and for human civilization management.
... Additionally, we have not yet observed any extraterrestrial civilizations or received any extraterrestrial broadcasts, so this conspicuous absence remains to be explained [13,14]. Maybe complex life is rare [15], or maybe we are actually being stealthily observed [16,17]. But perhaps civilizations that rapidly expand across the galaxy are also quickly forced into ecological collapse, while less expansive civilizations that grow within their carrying capacity may not have had enough time to colonize the galaxy 5 [18,19]. ...
Article
Messaging to extraterrestrial intelligence (METI) is a branch of study concerned with constructing and broadcasting a message toward habitable planets. Since the Arecibo message of 1974, the handful of METI broadcasts have increased in content and complexity, but the lack of an established protocol has produced unorganized or cryptic messages that could be difficult to interpret. Here we outline the development of a self-consistent protocol for messaging to extraterrestrial intelligence that provides constraints and guidelines for the construction of a message in order to maximize the probability that the message effectively communicates. A METI protocol considers several factors including signal encoding, message length, information content, anthropocentrism, transmission method, and transmission periodicity. Once developed, the protocol will be released for testing on different human groups worldwide and across cultural boundaries. An effective message to extraterrestrials should at least be understandable by humans, and releasing the protocol for testing will allow us to improve the protocol and develop potential messages. Through an interactive website, users across the world will be able to create and exchange messages that follow the protocol in order to discover the types of messages better suited for cross-cultural communication. The development of a METI protocol will serve to improve the quality of messages to extraterrestrials, foster international collaboration, and extend astrobiology outreach to the public.
... Some authors argue that this means that we are the first and only civilization in the galaxy capable of space flight [1,2], while others try to find less anthropocentric explanations. Among these ideas are Fermi's doubts that interstellar space travel is feasible [3], the proposal that we live in a galactic zoo [4], that the whole universe as we see it is a simulation [5], that economic constraints make space travel unlikely [6], that the expansion rate is much slower than assumed [7] or that colonies decide to refrain from space travel, leading to large uncolonized regions following a percolation process [8]. Actually, Webb [9] describes in his book 50 possible answers to the problem. ...
Article
It has been argued that self-replicating robotic probes could spread to all stars of our galaxy within a timespan that is tiny on cosmological scales, even if they travel well below the speed of light. The apparent absence of such von Neumann probes in our own solar system then needs an explanation that holds for all possible extraterrestrial civilisations. Here I propose such a solution, which is based on a runaway error propagation that can occur in any self-replicating system with finite accuracy of its components. Under universally applicable assumptions (finite resources and finite lifespans) it follows that an optimal probe design always leads to an error catastrophe and breakdown of the probes. Thus, there might be many advanced civilizations in our galaxy, each surrounded by their own small sphere of self-replicating probes. But unless our own solar system has the extraordinary luck to be close enough to one of these civilizations, none of these probes will ever reach us.
... In this case, such ETI will cease to be invisible to us when we have searched enough of the asteroid belt to detect signs of their presence, such as mining on asteroids [55][56][57], excess infrared radiation from spacecraft [7,58], or intelligent conversational space probes [59]. A more sophisticated approach would eliminate all outgoing electromagnetic signals by to hide any signatures of its presence, and ETI with even greater technological prowess could engineer a virtual planetarium surrounding Earth so that we are forced to observe an empty universe [60]. ...
Article
While humanity has not yet observed any extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), contact with ETI remains possible. Contact could occur through a broad range of scenarios that have varying consequences for humanity. However, many discussions of this question assume that contact will follow a particular scenario that derives from the hopes and fears of the author. In this paper, we analyze a broad range of contact scenarios in terms of whether contact with ETI would benefit or harm humanity. This type of broad analysis can help us prepare for actual contact with ETI even if the details of contact do not fully resemble any specific scenario.
... hyperfine [FS33a,FS33b]. Hypothesis [Bal73, Fer26a, Fer27a, Fer49b,Bax01]. ...
Chapter
In the sense of SETI (the Search forSearch for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)Extraterrestrial IntelligenceExtraterrestrial intelligenceSearch for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)), how visible is Big HistoryBig History? For how long have we been visible to sensitive instruments looking from afar? Our radio emissions over the last century or so could have been detected with human-class radio telescopes across light years. Perhaps advanced exoplanetExoplanets telescopes could see present-day industrial products in the atmosphere, and maybe observed earlier perturbations such as caused by farming, or even forest clearances in the deeper past. If so, we may have been visible for thousands of years, and therefore potentially witnessed by external observers across thousands of light years. In a cosmic context our Big History may already be big in space as well as time. It is striking, however, that we ourselves have failed so far to detect traces of intelligence beyond the EarthEarth. This may betray a fundamental misunderstanding on our part of the nature and distribution of life and mind on the universe—indeed of our own future—and so a misunderstanding of our own place in the Biggest History of all.
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We review Fermi's paradox (or the "Great Silence" problem), not only arguably the oldest and crucial problem for the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI), but also a conundrum of profound scientific, philosophical and cultural importance. By a simple analysis of observation selection effects, the correct resolution of Fermi's paradox is certain to tell us something about the future of humanity. Already a more than three quarters of a century old puzzle - and a quarter of century since the last major review paper in the field by G. David Brin - Fermi's paradox has generated many ingenious discussions and hypotheses. We analyze the often tacit methodological assumptions built into various answers to this puzzle and attempt a new classification of the numerous solutions proposed in an already huge literature on the subject. Finally, we consider the ramifications of various classes of hypotheses for the practical SETI projects. Somewhat paradoxically, it seems that the class of (neo)catastrophic hypotheses gives, on balance, the strongest justification for guarded optimism regarding our current and near-future SETI efforts. Comment: 39 pages, 3 figures, slightly expanded in comparison to the journal version
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Chapter
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Chapter
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Chapter
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Bu çalışmada bilimkurguda ve "büyük sessizlik" literatüründe dünya dışı yaşamın mekan, zaman, yapı ve morfoloji, nispi gelişmişlik ve niyetleri bağlanımda hangi kategorilerde ele alındığına yönelik bir derleme yapılmıştır.
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It is argued that the "generic" evolutionary pathway of advanced technological civilizations are more likely to be optimization-driven than expansion-driven, in contrast to the prevailing opinions and attitudes in both future studies on one side and astrobiology/SETI studies on the other. Two toy-models of postbiological evolution of advanced technological civilizations are considered and several arguments supporting the optimization-driven, spatially compact model are briefly discussed. In addition, it is pointed out that there is a subtle contradiction in most of the tech-optimist and transhumanist accounts of future human/alien civilizations' motivations in its postbiological stages. This may have important ramifications for both practical SETI projects and the future (of humanity) studies.
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