The Aestivation Hypothesis for resolving Fermi's Paradox

That is not dead which can eternal lie:

If a civilization wants to maximize computation it appears rational to aestivate until the far future in order to exploit the low temperature en- vironment: this can produce a 1030 multiplier of achievable computation. We hence suggest the "aestivation hypothesis": the reason we are not observing manifestations of alien civilizations is that they are currently (mostly) inactive, patiently waiting for future cosmic eras. This paper analyzes the assumptions going into the hypothesis and how physical law and observational evidence constrain the motivations of aliens compatible with the hypothesis. [...]

As the universe cools down, one Joule of energy is worth proportionally more. This can be a substantial (1030) gain. Hence a civilization desiring to maximize the amount of computation will want to use its energy endowment as late as possible: using it now means far less total computation can be done. Hence an early civilization, after expanding to gain access to enough raw materials, will settle down and wait until it becomes rational to use the resources. We are not observing any aliens since the initial expansion phase is brief and intermittent and the aestivating civilization and its infrastructure is also largely passive and compact. [...]

As noted by Gershenfeld, optimal computation needs to make sure all internal states are close to the most probable state of the system, since otherwise there will be extra dissipation. Hence there is a good reason to perform operations slowly. Fortunately, time is an abundant resource in the far future. In addition, a civilization whose subjective time is proportional to the computation rate will not internally experience the slowdown.

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6 Responses:

  1. So when they eat our heads they are just storing our states until the universe has cooled down and we can think more efficiently. It's for our own good, really.

  2. djm says:

    Joke's on them, we slowderps will have used up all the fuel/fissile material long before they wake.

  3. mspong says:

    So the elder gods who want to destroy all life are not evil, they're just guardians set by their masters to keep the universe clean and prevent any possible threat to their civilization archives until space gets cold enough for them to wake up.

  4. James says:

    According to Seth Shostak, They probably want to write interstellar Ph.D. theses on our arts and culture. I agree that is far more likely than that they want to maximize computation, because they simply wouldn't bother with us otherwise, and that is consistent with the spy game Fermi paradox resolution, which has orders of magnitude more reliable sourcing than the next best sourced UFO phenomenon, the O'Hare sighting.

  5. Alex says:

    "In the long run, we are all dead..."

  6. derkaderkaburka says:

    Someone turned Stephen Baxter's "Snowflake" race into an ArXiV paper. Goody. In that short story, some elder race uploaded its minds into a giant iron fractal snowflake - waiting for the universe to cool so that they could think more efficiently. They worshipped Godel's Incompleteness Theorem. They had a Mach displacement weapon. Later humans overwhelmed that weapon and melted them into lifelessness anyway with high power beamed weapons. THE END.