"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking" -JMK
- Jennifer Ouellette discusses new modeling that suggests that the duration of alien civilizations may be a strong determinant of our ability to make contact. This may address the so called "Fermi Paradox" of why despite the fact that we should expect a lot of life in the universe, we don't see any evidence of it. The point that we need proximity in time as well as space is to alien civilizations is very important, but I always find the way that people frame the Fermi Paradox interesting. We do have evidence of alien contact, or at least we have considerable data on contact. Literally tens of thousands of UFO and abduction experiences catalogued and corroborated. Now - is that useful data, or is it just noise? It's likely that it's all noise. But I always wonder if people who talk about the Fermi Paradox have even looked at the extant sighting data. It seems like a natural place to start. I think it's illogical to assume that there aren't alien civilizations out there. If you're serious about the conjecture, the first place you oughta go is the UFO sightings data. Once you accept that life must exist beyond this planet, the data at least becomes plausible enough to look at, if not accept outright. Anyway - interesting article - Malthus gets a mention. You can search the largest database of UFO sightings that I'm aware of here. They really oughta make this easily available in a format that can be analyzed, though. Make of it what you will. Like I said, I wouldn't be surprised if 100% of the reports are crap and we have never legitimately made contact. It wouldn't surprise me at all. But since I do accept that life has to exist elsewhere, the plausibility that we've made contact is very real.
- Oh, and some people think there's a chance we may make contact with fossilized alien life soon (if we haven't already - there are some claims about microbial fossils in asteroids).
- Paul Krugman dampens hopes for a Martian colony, citing someone that uses the logic from his paper on increasing returns and economic geography (for which he won a Nobel Prize). I'm not sure I entirely agree. The argument is that complex societies need lots of people to function. True, there will need to be a centrally planned umbilical cord to Earth in the beginning. True, the market division of labor will not be able to provide everything for the early human Martians themselves at first. I don't see why this means that we can't plant a colony.
- David Gelernter discusses how Judaism, specifically some Talmudic sources on cruelty to animals and some of Martin Buber's work, can help guide us on how we should respond morally to machines with artificial intelligence (HT Andrew Sullivan).