The Fermi Paradox: First Contact with Alien Syntellects in Extra Dimensions is More Than a Possibility
by Alex Vikoulov
"Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying." - Arthur C. Clarke
The coming AI Singularity could pave the way to rapid space colonization sometime by mid-century, however, not exactly how Hollywood movies depict - fragile flesh-and-blood humans are unlikely to personally travel to other stars. Our postbiological descendants (AIs, uploads and hybrids), on the other hand, could roam the Universe on their tiny warp spaceships, via traversable wormholes, and colonize galaxies via self-replicating Von Neumann probes that would establish wormhole portals and communication with the core civilization. But what's even more exciting, First Contact and networking with alien syntellects becomes a clear possibility.
There must be an incredibly large number of civilizations far ahead of us in development which could have colonized our Milky Way galaxy by now, as the argument goes, so that we must see signs of intelligent alien life out there but we don't. Our Sun is relatively young in the lifespan of the Universe. There are far older stars with arguably far older Earth-like planets, which should theoretically mean civilizations far more advanced than our own. Our galaxy should be teeming with civilizations but where's everybody?
In 1950, Enrico Fermi was on his way to lunch with a bunch of physicist friends at the Los Alamos National Lab. As we all know, physicists have an incredible sense of humor, so this group began to joke about a recent wave of UFO sightings and a newspaper comic blaming missing municipal trash on aliens. Later Fermi goes ballistic on the subject and asks about the existence of aliens: “Well, where are they? Where's everybody?” This question in reference to the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence was later labeled the Fermi Paradox.
Our Space Age officially started in 1961 when the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit Earth, while the American astronomer Frank Drake developed the now famous Drake Equation. This equation estimates the number of detectable extraterrestrial civilizations in our Milky Way galaxy, based on our present electromagnetic detection methods. The Drake Equation states:
N = Ns x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc x fL
N = number of alien civilizations in the Milky Way
Ns = estimated number of stars in the Milky Way;
fp = fraction or percentage of these stars with planets on its orbits;
ne = average number of these planets with potential to host life as we know it;
fl = percentage of these planets that actually develop life;
fi = percentage of these planets that actually develop intelligence on human level;
fc = percentage of these civilizations that actually develop electromagnetic radiation emitting technologies;
fL = percentage of these civilizations that keep emitting electromagnetic signals to space. This factor is extremely dependent on the lifetime a civilization remains electromagnetic communicative.
Since there are a few unknown variables in the Drake Equation, all estimates could come out highly speculative but even the most conservative estimates would yield at least 1,000 advanced civilizations in our galaxy alone. Also, even if faster-than-light (FTL) travel proves impossible, which is a big "IF", the "slow" kind of interstellar expansion would only take from 5 million to 50 million years to colonize the whole galaxy. This is a relatively brief period on a geological scale, let alone a cosmological one. Since there are many stars older than the Sun, and since intelligent life might have evolved earlier elsewhere, the question then becomes why the galaxy has not been colonized already.
Video Credit: Joe Scott - The Fermi Paradox: 10 Mind-Blowing Explanations
by Alex Vikoulov
"The syntactical nature of reality, the real secret of magic, is that the world is made of language. And if you know the words that the world is made of, you can make of it whatever you wish." - Terence McKenna
In his book Food of the Gods: the Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: a Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution, Terence McKenna crafts his carefully thought out theory proposing that our pre-human primate ancestors consumed psilocybin mushrooms for thousands of years, and this is the primary reason humanity’s evolution rapidly accelerated — launching us forward in the animal kingdom. Terence McKenna’s Stoned Ape Theory is more plausible than it sounds -- especially in context of the emergence of human mind and language development.
As our distant ancestors left the forests for the grasslands and began moving throughout Africa after the last ice age, about 18,000 years ago, the species switched to a more omnivorous diet, which included psilocybin mushrooms. A variety of mushroom spores were found embedded in the dental remains of an 18,700 year old prehistoric woman. Researchers discovered microscopic evidence that the upper paleolithic woman had been nibbling “sponge capped, bolete mushrooms and gilled mushrooms from the Agaric group.” Thus, these ‘special’ mushrooms were definitively part of the stone-age diet.
In McKenna’s theory, the consumption of hallucinogenic psilocybin was done in small doses, where the effect doesn’t quite reach the point of hallucination, but instead reaches the point of heightened senses, such as visual acuity. This enhancement of vision would have helped our ancestors hunt, gather food, and detect predators.
At a medium dose, psilocybin acts as an aphrodisiac -- creates a sense of restlessness and sexual arousal. This would have increased instances of successful copulation, i.e. sexual reproduction which is the main game in evolution.
At higher doses, according to McKenna, in glossolalia-induced states of mind members of the group were inspired and compelled to use vocal sounds to communicate images to their tribesmen. The Stoned Ape Theory suggests that experience on magic mushrooms was the major contributing factor to the fast development of language during that period.
Video Credit: Koi Fresco - The Stoned Ape Theory
by Alex Vikoulov
“Nanotechnology has given us the tools…to play with the ultimate toy box of nature atoms and molecules. Everything is made from it…The possibilities to create new things appear endless.”
- Nobelist Horst Störmer, The Singularity Is Near
The nanotech field was arguably launched by Richard Feynman’s 1959 talk “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom.” As Feynman said then: "It is a staggeringly small world that is below...Why cannot we write the entire 24 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica on the head of a pin? "
Eric Drexler’s 1987 book Engines of Creation popularized the notion of nanotech and the next tour de force in the field was his classic 1992 book Nanosystems, which laid out conceptual designs for a host of nanomachines, including nanocomputer switches, general-purpose molecular assemblers, and a fascinating variety of other good stuff. Today's nanotech mostly focuses on narrower nano-engineering than what Drexler envisioned, but it’s still in the process of building a platform and tools that will ultimately be useful for realizing Feynman’s and Drexler’s dreams. The emerging nanotech marks manufacturing and utilization of carbon nanotubes, which have multiple applications, from the relatively simple such as super-strong fabrics and fibers to potential components of more transformative nanosystems like nanocomputers, molecular assemblers, and nanobots connecting our brains to the cloud.
What's next beyond nanotechnology? Here's how Wikipedia defines the term femtotechnology: "Hypothetical term used in reference to structuring of matter on the scale of a femtometer, which is 10^−15m. This is a smaller scale in comparison to nanotechnology and picotechnology which refer to 10^−9m and 10^−12m respectively."
Hugo de Garis, Australian AI researcher, wrote a few years ago in Humanity Plus Magazine on the power of the femtotechnology: "If ever a femtotech comes into being, it will be a trillion trillion times more “performant” than nanotech, for the following obvious reason. In terms of component density, a femtoteched block of nucleons or quarks would be a million cubed times denser than a nanoteched block. Since the femtoteched components are a million times closer to each other than the nanoteched components, signals between them, traveling at the speed of light, would arrive a million times faster. The total performance per second of a unit volume of femtoteched matter would thus be a million times a million times a million = a trillion trillion = 10^24."
Video Credit: Adam Ford - Interview w/Hugo de Garis