BOK Globs - "Could They be Habitats of Advanced Machine-Based Civilizations?
- URL to an interesting speculation from The Daily Galaxy
This reminds me of Fred Hoyle's Black Cloud
Couple of paragraphs
If AI-powered machines evolved, we would be more likely to spot signals
from them than from the "biological" life that invented them.
"But having now looked for signals for 50 years, we are going through a
process of realizing the way our technology is advancing is probably a good
indicator of how other civilizations - if they're out there - would've
progressed. Certainly what we're looking at out there is an evolutionary moving
target," according to SETI Chief Astroniomer, Seth Shostak.
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Shostak believes that artificially intelligent alien life would be likely
to migrate to places where both matter and energy - the only things he says
would be of interest to the machines - would be in plentiful supply. That
means the Seti hunt may need to focus its attentions near hot, young stars
or even near the centers of galaxies.
"I think we could spend at least a few percent of our time... looking in
the directions that are maybe not the most attractive in terms of biological
intelligence but maybe where sentient machines are hanging out." Shostak
thinks SETI ought to consider expanding its search to the energy- and
matter-rich neighborhoods of hot stars, black holes and neutron stars.
Data centers like this generate a lot of heat, and keeping them cool is a
major challenge for modern computing. Intelligent computers would likely
seek out a low-temperature habitat. Bok globules (image at top of page) are
another search target for sentient machines. These dense regions of dust and
gas are notorious for producing multiple-star systems. At around negative
441 degrees Fahrenheit, they are about 160 degrees F colder than most of
This climate could be a major draw because thermodynamics implies that
machinery will be more efficient in cool regions that can function as a large “
heat sink”. A Bok globule’s super-cooled environment might represent the
Goldilocks Zone for the AI powered machines, says Shostak. But because black
holes and Bok globules are not hospitable to life as we know it, they are
not on SETI's prime target list.
“Machines have different needs,” he says. “They have no obvious limits to
the length of their existence, and consequently could easily dominate the
intelligence of the cosmos. In particular, since they can evolve on
timescales far, far shorter than biological evolution, it could very well be that
the first machines on the scene thoroughly dominate the intelligence in the
galaxy. It’s a “winner take all” scenario.”
According to the British physicist Stephen Wolfram, intelligent life is
inevitable. But there is a hitch. Although intelligent life is inevitable, we
will never find it -at least not by looking out in the Milky Way. As
evidence Wolfram points out In order to compress more and more information into
our communication signals - be they mobile phone conversations or computer-
we remove all redundancy or pattern. If anything in a signal repeats, then
clearly it can be excised. But this process of removing any pattern from a
signal make it look more and more random - in fact, pretty much like the
random radio "noise" that rains down on Earth coming from stars and
interstellar gas clouds.
According to Wolfram, if someone beamed our own 21st-century communication
signals at us from space we would be hard pressed determining whether they
were artificial or natural. So what chance do we have of distinguishing an
ET communication from the general background radio static of the cosmos?
ET artifacts coordinated by computers would look far more like a natural
artifact. It is easy to distinguish a technological artifact such as a car
from a natural object such as a tree. The tree is far more complicated.
But, says Wolfram,"this is simply because our technological artifacts are
primitive. As they become more complex - with computer processors enabling
them to make a moment-by-moment decisions - they will begin to look just as
complex as trees and people and stars." We have slim chance, he suggests,
of distinguishing an ET artifact from a natural celestial object.
If Wolfram is right and ETs are out there but we will not be able to
recognize them - either in their communications or their artifacts - then of
course they could be here in the Solar System and we would not have noticed. "
(Madness takes it toll. Please have exact change)
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