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204136Re: Universal language for communicating with space aliens

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  • Jim Henry
    Jul 25, 2014
      On Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 4:57 AM, Patrik Austin <patrik.austin@...> wrote:
      > Guys! What's up? Everybody's like "this can't be true because if Patrik's right then the world's going to explode and I'll miss my favourite TV show!" All I was trying to do is lead the conversation back to conlanging. No one complained about the original lasers idea shooting information to an unknown spot 10kc away in time and

      The difference is that one part of Warren's orginal idea is simply a
      matter of engineering -- building a laser that's much bigger and more
      precisely targeted than our existing ones would not require
      discovering new physics. And the second part (superhuman AI) is one
      that might require fundamental new discoveries in computer science,
      but which nonetheless lots of people are convinced is theoretically
      possible under our current understanding of physics.

      Your idea on the other hand would require a revolutionary new
      discovery in physics, which we have no particular reason to suppose is
      likely or even possible.

      On Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 10:25 AM, Lorinda J. Taylor
      <eljaytee1@...> wrote:
      > I haven’t read every post in this discussion, but it seems to make the assumption that all extraterrestrials are more advanced than Earthers, so we will be able to communicate through some version of artificial intelligence or computer language. The chances are that our first contact will be with a more primitive species that we meet by going to their planet. If they communicate using an oral language or a gesture language, normal processes of interaction (pantomime, pictures, etc.) will work in the long run. But what if they use some inaccessible method?

      I don't think Warren or other people in the discussion were assuming
      that all aliens are more advanced than us, but rather, that the only
      aliens we could make contact with by this particular method must be
      almost as advanced as us if not more so (they just need radio
      telescopes, which we discovered several decades ago).

      The kind of scenario you deal with in your novel tends to make for
      better stories, and is more linguistically interesting. I don't know
      if it's really more likely, though.

      We really have no idea how rare or common (a) life, (b) intelligent
      life, or (c) intelligent life advanced enough to build radio
      telescopes is. Many different assumptions are consistent with the
      evidence. But if we assume that (c) is as common as Warren seems to
      assume it is, we have to explain why we haven't detected any radio
      signals such as a (c) civilization would produce. Assuming that (a)
      and (b) are common but (c) is rare requires no such explanation, so
      those seem to be simpler assumptions -- as is the assumption that life
      of any kind is rare.

      If (b) is common, and we eventually find safe and cost-effective
      methods of interstellar travel, but (c) is rare, then indeed the
      "Termite Queen" scenario would be more likely than Warren's scenario.

      The principle of mediocrity would seem to imply that about half of all
      intelligent life in the universe is more advanced than we are. If so,
      then either intelligent life is quite rare, maybe one species per
      galaxy or less, or else those numerous civilizations more advanced
      than we are are consistently hiding from us.

      Jim Henry
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