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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Another Challenge for Hawking

Would a species that participates in a lot of high stakes zero sum games make it very far beyond their own star system? There isn't very much resources in space, would it be wise for a spacefaring species to attack a civilization that has the home field advantage as opposed to, say, landing on the rest of the uninhabited planets in our solar system? Why would an advanced civilization participate in zero sum games such as war? Such thoughts stem from our own primitive prejudices.

Wherein is the hostility? Am I to believe that alien life forms value mass energy consumption? Shouldn't it be logically concluded that mass energy consumption is contrary to sustainability in the long run?

I think that the very nature of competition evolves as intelligence evolves. The new competitions for humankind, for example, take place in the form of technology and business. I think the aliens would hack into our communication systems and try to decipher how we function, and then try to reengineer us to function differently, end goal being to change our society to serve their purposes, and possibly they might contribute to our quality of life in the process too.

Or, on an even playing field, they might achieve a mutually benefitial relationship with us, in game theory as in economics that is a much better way to go about an exchange between intelligent species.

Stephen Hawking: alien life is out there, scientist warns

For the record, this is not the first time I've challenged Hawking's bad thinking on this blog either, in fact that article is in direct contradiction to something he said earlier about that probability of alien existance in our nearby galaxy being extremely low:

Intelligence in the Milky Way Galaxy

In the end, it doesn't matter how intelligent an individual or a species is, there are always high degrees of uncertainty in any exchange. Just like in poker, due to the uncertainty factor, one intelligent individual might fold a hand that would have become a royal flush, while another intelligent individual might go all in on a hand that actually amounts to a loss in the end, although the one that folded the royal flush didn't go bankrupt. Hawking's logic is essentially that, folding, not transmitting radio waves will ensure that we don't lose big time in such an exchange, even if such an exchange could potentially result in huge winnings.