Do more intelligent beings exist?

by phil on Thursday Mar 27, 2003 5:58 PM

Do more intelligent beings exist? (terse version)

I promised earlier that I would explain a theory on how we can figure out whether smarter aliens exist or not in our universe. This is going to be extremely terse and probably inaccessible to those unfamiliar with Kurzweil's Law of Accelerating Returns. Anyways, here it goes.

The Law of Accelerating Returns states that order increases exponentially over time. If this exponential curve is smooth, as it has been with things like Moore's Law and others, then we can extrapolate back into time. Now, if, upon extrapolating back, we find that the curve is flat too early (i.e. a few billion years past the big bang), then we know that we are not at the bleeding edge of accelerating order in the universe. This situation is similar to parallel evolution of humans vs. dolphins. Dolphins and humans diverged from different classes of life forms. Humans are on the edge of Earth's accelerating order, while as dolphins have been left behind--so it would seem. Dolphins are still evolving and so are humans, but humans have a steeper order curve, while as dolphins still have yet to break out into faster forms of intelligence. i.e. We have cultures, computers, innovation, creativity, while as dolphins are only up to basic communication. Needless to say, if you removed the humans right now, you'd be taking a few steps back on Earth's progress and whatever is at the edge will continue from a more shallow curve of progress, but would still march forward nonetheless.

So, scenario 1: You measure the amount and rate of change of order on Earth. Then you extrapolate the curve back into time and find that it stops more than a billion years after the big bang. That means that in the universe as a whole, there exists order and intelligence greater than ours somewhere else. Since the curve started right from the big bang, then there must exist intelligence an order in the universe far greater than what is present here on Earth a curve were to have started right from the big bang, it would be much further up by now than where we are.

Scenario 2: You measure the amount and rate of change of order on Earth. You extrapolate the curve back and find that it starts right when the big bang happened. This means that we represent the best of the universe. Everything else that is happening in the world are probably like dolphins, eons away from being up to speed in progress as we are.

My guess is that there are definitely at least other lesser life forms out there. It's a big universe, there must be bacteria somewhere at the very least. Humans are not the only life form on Earth, likewise, Earth is not the only planet inhabited with life. However, like Kurzweil, I think, said, life, like other things, is probably both rare and plentiful. If you think about the amount of life on Earth per mass of Earth, life is an extremely miniscule portion of it. Yet, life, to us, is everywhere.

I apologize that this "proof" is poorly sketched, but hopefully, if you have some familarity of the concepts, you can get gist of what I'm getting at and maybe explain it better. Note, though, it's based on a pretty big assumption that is as of yet, not entirely proven. This assumption is that in any closed system the amount of order in that system increases exponentially over time. I've played a lot of mental games, trying to disprove this or find ways in which the speed of order could change outside a certain "pace," but I've always returned back to a belief in this exponential increase. But, since I lack the articulation to explain my belief, my faith in the Law of Accelerating Returns is just that, faith.

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