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Wise Exploration

Do not make von Neumann probes, instead, keep a moderate number of hidden civilization replicas, and monitor the universe, to last longer, and to lead a more interesting existence.
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While self-replicating spacecraft would have a potential to bring life and technology to a whole galaxy in a matter of just a few million years, it may not be the wisest thing to do. The exponentially replicating probes would potentially create competition, accelerate resource consumption, and take away the chance for other types of life to emerge, preventing the possibilities to study other types of life, which might provide insights into overlooked optima to reduce our own biases, the knowledge of which may be useful for future road- blocks. All of that combined, releasing von Neumann probes would have to be treated with the same caution and foresight as messaging to extraterrestrial intelligence. (Advanced alien civilizations may already exist, and be monitoring the universe for emergence of replicators.)

All that brings me to an assumption, that any sufficiently advanced civilization is secure, wise, curious and patient enough to be uninterested in polluting the universe with von Neumann probes, because they had assured their survival with sufficiently high certainty (e.g., diversifying with just a dozen of mutually remote independent civilizations makes probability of extinction vanish), that making exponentially replicating probes does not enhance their chances in survival (but instead, reduces it by accelerating resource consumption, and creating other risks mentioned above).

In that context, leaving the resources for other types of life to emerge may seem more interesting and deemed useful.

As a side effect, in that case, one would not expect to see the universe teaming with life (like Fermi paradox supposes), but instead, a universe with different types of advanced civilization clusters, with hidden locations, and encrypted signals to each other about their existence and developments, where each cluster is not unlikely to be aware of another. Whatever dangers they would encounter, would likely not divulge the locations of other civilizations, but be able to inform them.

In other words, wise exploration instead of pure replication.

One does wonder, however, what would happen if such advanced civilizations do get in contact despite taking this wise exploration strategy.

NOTE: We do need to run some simulations for this strategy, but if this proves to be a better strategy, then it weakens the predictions of Ray Kurzweil, that we're just one civilization, and the predictions of Nick Bostrom about the "great filter," that prevents civilizations to further develop.

Mindey, Mar 17 2019

Dave Pearce' Hedonistic imperative http://www.hedweb.org
[beanangel, Mar 18 2019]

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       I will do my part by continuing not to make von Neumann probes.
Cuit_au_Four, Mar 17 2019

       The problem with this idea as an explanation of the Fermi paradox is that it requires _all_ extraterrestrial intelligences to behave the same way.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 17 2019

       // _all_ extraterrestrial intelligences to behave the same way   

       The proposition, is that it may be a pattern -- "any sufficiently advanced civilization is secure, wise, curious and patient enough, that they don't do the von Neumann probes"... And then, if they do notice the replicators, they probably take actions to stop them.
Mindey, Mar 17 2019

       Yes, it may be a pattern, I'm just saying that it would be strange if *all* extraterrestrials followed the same pattern. I mean, out of every ten civilisations, you might expect at least one would be hell-bent on taking over the galaxy. It also assumes that civilisations adopt *and maintain* this strategy indefinitely - if they went through a brief aggressive phase and sent out vNMs, they'd be everywhere.   

       I increasingly believe that there may be very, very few intelligent species in the galaxy, and we might be either alone, or the most advanced.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 17 2019

       Most advanced of what?
pocmloc, Mar 17 2019

       // I mean, out of every ten civilisations, you might expect at least one would be hell-bent on taking over the galaxy.   

       And what if this propensity towards safe exploration is more common than anticipated? It is not clear, is it 1 in 10, or 1 in million. For example, one could expect that 1 in 10 persons would like to be stateless. However, in reality, approx. 1 in 1000 persons are stateless. I'm bringing up this comparison, because it involves individual choices for long-term stability associated with social organization. The choice of safe exploration may just be similarly much more common choice.   

       Creating vNMs doesn't require much intelligence, and little wisdom. So, what if these advanced civilizations that had lived for longer than a few million years from the time they had became technologically advanced (like we did in the last couple of centuries)? They would likely be monitoring the galaxy for these "hell-bent" attempts to create vNMs, and preventing the replicators.   

       Galaxies taken over by vNMs would probably then be rarer than we think, and further away than expected, making seeing significant differences from normal galaxies harder.
Mindey, Mar 17 2019

       Well, yes, maybe.   

       But then why not simply build benign vNMs and send them out to explore?   

       OK, since humanity is the only example we've got, let's model humanity. In 100 years from now, we will perhaps be able to send out "benign" vNMs. These benign vNMs will just travel until they end up on a rock. If the rock has life, they will just report back to Earth with nice photos, and maybe say "hello" to the life they find. If it has no life, they'll use a tiny fraction of its minerals to build more of themselves to send on to the next rock. This seems like a reasonable thing to do, by a species not intent on dominating the galaxy but curious to learn what's out there. And I think there's at least a reasonable chance that we'll do something like this in the next few hundred years. And if there's a reasonable chance, it's reasonable to assume that at least some other intelligent species out there would do something similar.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 17 2019

       And then, would benign vNMs be easily discoverable (Fermi paradox predicts universe teaming with life). Probably not.   

       Would they be expected to spread widely? Maybe, given that they exist for long-enough. Would they be a risk to the civilization that sends them out, given that they are discovered by another intelligent civilization? Probably so, because they could give out the location of the parent civilization. Therefore, a wise civilization would decide to first decentralize (i.e., first making mutually distant replicas) before risking having their single fortress being discovered due to vNMs... But then, at the point when they have mutliple mutually remote replicas, they're probably advanced enough to be uninterested in vNMs.
Mindey, Mar 17 2019


       Maybe next year we discover:   

       (1) A way to travel virtually, not using radio waves or
(2) A new subatomic particle which turns out to devour the earth or
(3) A way to roam the multiverse, such that the odds of us staying in this one are 1/infinity or
(4) An entirely new and amazing form of pasta, so fantastic that we decide to stay at home for eternity and eat.

       If any of these things is also inevitable for any other civilisation, then that would explain a few things.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 17 2019

       Indeed! Any of the (1)-(4) would explain a few things, including Fermi paradox. Oh, what's the fantastic pasta, that's so attractive that it keeps us at bay?
Mindey, Mar 18 2019

       That is the fifty dollar question, [Mindey]. If I knew, I'd be a Pasta Magnate.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 18 2019

       And you were laughing at me yesterday, saying a lead magnet would not work! It'd be a lot better than a pasta magnet!
pocmloc, Mar 18 2019

       Dave Pearce' Hedonistic Imperative [link] outlines things of value to be accomplished prior to spreading.
beanangel, Mar 18 2019

       //things of value to be accomplished prior to spreading// Bugger. Too late for me.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 18 2019

       In Accelerando, it isn't pasta, but some sort of economic novelty that we mortals cannot comprehend keeps the AIs that succeed us as the inhabitants of the inner Solar System from exploring the universe, and it is theorized that the same has happened in most or all other systems that have developed AI.
notexactly, Mar 18 2019

       Okay. So, I suppose, the above implies, that there must then be two types of galaxies:   

       Type-A -- ones inhabited by conservative intelligence (Wise Exploration)
Type-B -- ones inhabited by progressive intelligence (rapidly populated via von Neumann probes).

       The Type-A may be long-lived, and Type-B may be short-lived, due to rapid evolution and use of resources.   

       Given large intergalactic distances, the Type-B may presume that it is safe enough to reveal their existence to other galaxies. And so, we should expect at least a small percentage of galaxies to use energy more rapidly than expected, yet I suppose less rapidly than quasars do...
Mindey, Mar 19 2019


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