Today in Fermi Paradoxes

Asymptotic burnout and homeostatic awakening:

We propose a new resolution to the Fermi paradox: civilizations either collapse from burnout or redirect themselves to prioritizing homeostasis, a state where cosmic expansion is no longer a goal, making them difficult to detect remotely.

Their proposal seems to be that the Great Filter is that Capitalism is a death cult: either you reach for the stars and explode, or you get a little cottage in the country and don't bother disassembling Jupiter.

Also that the Kardashev scale is imperialist nonsense.

But most importantly, look at that illustration! Just look at it!

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17 Responses:

  1. Zygo says:

    It's not just the illustration that is beautiful (though it is beautiful).  Check out the minimalist metadata ethos:

    "This article has no additional data." "We declare we have no competing interests." "We received no funding for this study." "© 2022 The Authors."

  2. shaoyu says:

    Note that homeostasis does not imply lying still, it actually means, according to the graph, "reorientation and infinite expansion in other dimensions".

    This conclusion actually follows straightly from Eq. (1.1) in the article:

  3. tfb says:
    This paper is really annoying.  They're right, obviously: anyone functionally numerate can work out that continued exponential growth fucks you.  Anyone who knows any physics knows that it's not even *possible* short of inventing a time machine (you hit light speed limits).  If I was looking for civilisations on exoplanets I'd try to work out how hard it is to spot the long-term aftermaths of the nuclear wars which probably kill almost all of them.

    But then they have their fancy equation, and they claim

    [...] that when β > 1, unbounded growth will occur, leading to infinite population (and hence infinite demand on resources) in a finite time. If such a ‘singularity’ is approached unchecked, the system will eventually exceed its energy supply and collapse (or significantly regress).

    and that's just junk: you don't get singularities, and nothing becomes infinite.  The equation is pretty much y'(t) = ay(t)^β - by(t) (where a, b > 0) and a little bit of pissing around gives you a solution which is y = [a/b + qe^(b(β-1)t)]^(1/1-β), where q is an integration constant.  That absolutely doesn't become infinite in finite time.  The solution gets funny when β = 1, but that's fine because it's trivially an exponential in that case, which *also* doesn't become infinite in finite time.

    So clearly no-one mathematically competent reviewed this paper, and worse, no-one mathematically competent reviewed at least one of the papers they're citing.  And the serious problem they're talking about is now infected with singularitarian nonsense as a result.

    • Mark says:

      I think you messed up on the algebra  in that pissing around. Simplifying further to b=0 (because I don’t have time to get the algebra right myself otherwise) you get something proportional to (t+c)^(1/(1-beta)), with an integration constant c that is typically negative. So with that negative exponent for beta>0, you do indeed get a singularity at t=-c.

      I’m not making any claims about the value of the paper in general though, mind you.

      • tfb says:

        Yes, I did.  Or, rather, I didn't, but I didn't think hard enough about what my solution means: it's right, but I'd not thought about what q was: it can be negative for the right initial conditions, so if β > 1 and q is negative you do get divergences.

        I found a copy of the paper they cite in fact, and I'm pretty sure what I get agrees with what they get.

        Summary: random person on internet is wrong, peer-reviewed paper in prestigious journal is right: who would have expected that?

  4. drorlb says:

    It appears that the TL;DR is approximately:
    In order to avoid utter collapse soon, make "Blood Music" a reality?

  5. Cody says:

    Finally, the emergence of any module that produces dissipation and autocatalysis without contributing to homeostasis and learning is a dangerous form of ‘sublyfe’ [3] that siphons useful resources away from the whole system; classic examples from biology include cancer and ‘cheaters’ in evolutionary game theory.

    The recent rise of blockchains and cryptocurrencies, which demand ever-increasing rates of computational resources but do not contribute much to overall stability, may exemplify harmful internal sublyfe fluctuations endemic to dataome–biome symbioses.

    Confirmed: cryptocurrencies are cancer.
  6. Nick Gully says:

    Could be a great reality TV Show: "Keeping up with the Kardashevs"

  7. While the paper is hopeful, I remain convinced that the Great Filter is consequent to two basic facts:

    • The time between "we discovered steam power!" and "we caused catastrophic ecological collapse" is smaller than the time between "we discovered steam power!" and "we discovered a way to control our sociopaths."
    • Any species able to discover steam power will also have sociopaths, and discovering steam power will happen after sociopaths were placed in charge of things.
    • tfb says:

      I don't see why the second must be true: why does discovering steam power imply sociopaths.

      (Obviously, sociopaths are the problem, no disagreement there.)

  8. Cid says:

    i thought this was a diagram of someone's reproductive system in action.

  9. apm74 says:

    Disassembling Jupiter smacks of effort, man.

  10. Keisi says:

    So, in other words… capitalism will inevitably collapse under the weight of its own contradictions?And so society is faced with the choice of transition to socialism or regression into barbarism?

  11. ellie voyyd says:

    you, sir, are massively swagged out and hella dope!

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