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Stephen Hawking: Aliens may pose risks to Earth

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  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    exoteric said:
    Dr Herbie said:
    *snip*

    Define successful. Also, this just shows that evolution can be inclusive, it's a tree, not a list: branches can coexist, often depend on it - as we are becomming increasingly aware of on this planet. It doesn't necessarily show that nature and evolution doesn't favor intelligence (more time does mean higher intelligence). Aren't we all just complex adaptive machines, like automata, shaped by our externals (reactrive) and internals ("introactive"; reflective; introspective). Also, a rich ecosystem makes for a much more interesting, complex and adaptive system (on several scales): much more to adapt to.

     

    @Tommy: Independence Day sucks, think V.

    Evolution == continuing genes.

     

    Therefore most successful == largest stable numbers of genes for longest period of time.

     

    Homo sapiens has only been around for about 1-2 million years, so we're way down the league tables.

     

    There is an argument that since most of the life on Earth shares the same basic genetic structures, we should be preserving 'Earth Life' by seeding other planets with bacteria instead of trying to settle humans.

     

    Herbie

     

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    exoteric said:
    Dr Herbie said:
    *snip*

    Is an ant more successful than a human and/or does the number of ants on the planet vs the number of humans on the planet indicate that evolution favors ants, you think Herbie? Smiley

    Down to numbers.

    There are more ants than people (both by number of individuals and by total biomass) and they've been around a lot longer; so the ants are more successful than us.

     

     

    Herbie

     

  • User profile image
    exoteric

    Dr Herbie said:
    exoteric said:
    *snip*

    Down to numbers.

    There are more ants than people (both by number of individuals and by total biomass) and they've been around a lot longer; so the ants are more successful than us.

     

     

    Herbie

     

    You'll have to excuse me if I don't absorb that quantitative metric. Wink

    - Money can't buy you love, numbers can't buy you brains

     

    I would guess humans have the power to destroy every single ant on the planet - but choose not to (suicide mission, cataclysmic collateral damage, unless we employ some advanced genetic engineering).

  • User profile image
    turrican

    They are already here. Always been here. The time seems near. I give it less than 5 years.

    Bookmark my reply.

     

    *scares everyone*

    Smiley

     

    ...but seriously, bookmark my reply.

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    exoteric said:
    Dr Herbie said:
    *snip*

    You'll have to excuse me if I don't absorb that quantitative metric. Wink

    - Money can't buy you love, numbers can't buy you brains

     

    I would guess humans have the power to destroy every single ant on the planet - but choose not to (suicide mission, cataclysmic collateral damage, unless we employ some advanced genetic engineering).

    I don't think that we can destroy every ant on the planet, in the same way that we can't control volcanoes or floods.

    We could potentially introduce a virus that would wipe out most of them (even that might not be possible with current genetic engineering), but even then I expect that some would survive either by being isolated, or by having some genetic quirk that makes them immune.

     

    We really aren't the masters of the planet that some people like to think we are.

     

     

    Herbie

  • User profile image
    Cream​Filling512

    Dr Herbie said:
    CreamFilling512 said:
    *snip*

    Evolution reacts to changes in the environment after they have happened -- it cannot prepare for a cataclysm like an asteroid collision or a dying sun because it is not intelligent, it is simply a mechanism. If a big enough asteroid hit the Earth, it's Game Over.

    You don't need intelligence to manipulate the environment -- ants and termites manipulate their environment, but they're not intelligent, they are like little pre-programmed (through evolution) robots.

     

    Herbie

     

    Just saying intelligence could be an ultimate outcome of evolution because once you're intelligent, you're not bound by the limits of evolution.  You can then prepare for things that have not yet happened.  It's a whole different set of rules.  Ants, as numerous as they may be, can't do these things.

  • User profile image
    Sven Groot

    CreamFilling512 said:
    Dr Herbie said:
    *snip*

    Just saying intelligence could be an ultimate outcome of evolution because once you're intelligent, you're not bound by the limits of evolution.  You can then prepare for things that have not yet happened.  It's a whole different set of rules.  Ants, as numerous as they may be, can't do these things.

    ultimate outcome of evolution

    There's no such thing as an ultimate outcome as evolution.

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    CreamFilling512 said:
    Dr Herbie said:
    *snip*

    Just saying intelligence could be an ultimate outcome of evolution because once you're intelligent, you're not bound by the limits of evolution.  You can then prepare for things that have not yet happened.  It's a whole different set of rules.  Ants, as numerous as they may be, can't do these things.

    Yes, but that means that we're replying on blind chance and not evolution to provide intelligence in the first place, which is why I think we're the only ones (or at least I should say that we're probably the only ones).

     

    <pedantic>

    Evolution doesn't have an ultimate outcome because it never stops, it just changes from biological evolution to cultural evolution; but that's getting into philosophy so I'll stop right there.

    </pedantic>

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    CreamFilling512 said:
    Dr Herbie said:
    *snip*

    Well I think you'd have to be intelligent in order to leave the gravity well of a planet.  And if you can't leave your planet you could be wiped out by a wide range cataclysmic events, asteroid collision, sun dies out, etc.  So if evolution is about survival, then you'd probably want to be intelligent, capable of manipulating the environment to your own needs.

    Not necessarily. Y'ever read Starship Troopers (or even the film's good enough), ignoring the brain-bugs entirely there was a subtype of arachnid bug that expelled its spores into orbit, which doesn't require that much effort if their homeworld was a small planet or an asteroid, for example.

     

    It's like saying a species must be intelligent if it can get from one island to another (on this planet)... but polar bears can swim, and migratory birds travel even longer distances. I don't believe it's far-fetched for an unintelligent (but sufficiently evolved) life form to achieve inter-planetary transport.

     

    Now inter-system, that's different and depends on whether or not it's possible for FTL travel to exist.

  • User profile image
    Minh

    Dr Herbie said:
    CreamFilling512 said:
    *snip*

    Yes, but that means that we're replying on blind chance and not evolution to provide intelligence in the first place, which is why I think we're the only ones (or at least I should say that we're probably the only ones).

     

    <pedantic>

    Evolution doesn't have an ultimate outcome because it never stops, it just changes from biological evolution to cultural evolution; but that's getting into philosophy so I'll stop right there.

    </pedantic>

    Dr.H, assuming that species-killing asteroids are natural for a solar system, doesn't evolution select for species that can survive these asteroids, through migration or some sort of HUGE missile?

  • User profile image
    Minh

    W3bbo said:
    CreamFilling512 said:
    *snip*

    Not necessarily. Y'ever read Starship Troopers (or even the film's good enough), ignoring the brain-bugs entirely there was a subtype of arachnid bug that expelled its spores into orbit, which doesn't require that much effort if their homeworld was a small planet or an asteroid, for example.

     

    It's like saying a species must be intelligent if it can get from one island to another (on this planet)... but polar bears can swim, and migratory birds travel even longer distances. I don't believe it's far-fetched for an unintelligent (but sufficiently evolved) life form to achieve inter-planetary transport.

     

    Now inter-system, that's different and depends on whether or not it's possible for FTL travel to exist.

    You don't need to poop fast enough to achieve escape velocity. The water bear (tiny mite) can survive the vaccum and chill of space. If an asteroid big enough would come along and chip of a nice piece of earth into space...

     

    And I don't think physics can support such mighty anus.

  • User profile image
    Minh

    CreamFilling512 said:
    Dr Herbie said:
    *snip*

    Just saying intelligence could be an ultimate outcome of evolution because once you're intelligent, you're not bound by the limits of evolution.  You can then prepare for things that have not yet happened.  It's a whole different set of rules.  Ants, as numerous as they may be, can't do these things.

    Just because we're an intelligent specie, it doesn't mean we'll survive. Look at Sarah Palin

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    Minh said:
    Dr Herbie said:
    *snip*

    Dr.H, assuming that species-killing asteroids are natural for a solar system, doesn't evolution select for species that can survive these asteroids, through migration or some sort of HUGE missile?

    Nope -- evolution can only response to constant evolutionary pressure -- one-off catastrophic events are not covered by your evolutionary warranty.

     

    Herbie

     

  • User profile image
    Minh

    Dr Herbie said:
    Minh said:
    *snip*

    Nope -- evolution can only response to constant evolutionary pressure -- one-off catastrophic events are not covered by your evolutionary warranty.

     

    Herbie

     

    Well... but you're thinking short-term... these catastrophic events happen once every 100 million years... but evolution has billions of galaxies to get it right?

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    Minh said:
    Dr Herbie said:
    *snip*

    Well... but you're thinking short-term... these catastrophic events happen once every 100 million years... but evolution has billions of galaxies to get it right?

    That's blind chance, not evolution (evolution being an n-dimensional, parallelised search algorithm looking for local optima), so again we're down to minute probabilities, which I think means that we're the only ones likely to do it.

     

    Herbie

     

  • User profile image
    Minh

    Dr Herbie said:
    Minh said:
    *snip*

    That's blind chance, not evolution (evolution being an n-dimensional, parallelised search algorithm looking for local optima), so again we're down to minute probabilities, which I think means that we're the only ones likely to do it.

     

    Herbie

     

    Ive always thought evolution is random mutation that happens to adapt better to an environment?

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    Minh said:
    Dr Herbie said:
    *snip*

    Ive always thought evolution is random mutation that happens to adapt better to an environment?

    Not quite -- the 'fuel' for evolution is random mutations, but evolution itself is more complex.

     

    Think of an animal's physical being (phenotype) as a being described by a set of variables from an enormous multiple of dimensions (like height, weight, bone density, etc).

    The evolutionary process performs a search through the n-dimensional space that  encompases all possible combinations of those parameters.  However, it can only access those areas of the space that are represented by genes currently in the population.  Random mutations open up new areas of the search space for evolution to search through, which may or may not lead evolution to a new optimal solution to propagating copies of those genes within the current environment.

    Occasionally genes become extinct within a population (various reasons, including random chance); this will close of an area of the search space to evolution.

    Areas that contain genes that are not directly useful for creating copies of the organism are more likely to become extinct within the population.

     

    So, although there are lots of random elements to the process, the process itself is not random; it is fueled by randomness, but directed by the current environment.

     

    Herbie

     

  • User profile image
    Minh

    Dr Herbie said:
    Minh said:
    *snip*

    Not quite -- the 'fuel' for evolution is random mutations, but evolution itself is more complex.

     

    Think of an animal's physical being (phenotype) as a being described by a set of variables from an enormous multiple of dimensions (like height, weight, bone density, etc).

    The evolutionary process performs a search through the n-dimensional space that  encompases all possible combinations of those parameters.  However, it can only access those areas of the space that are represented by genes currently in the population.  Random mutations open up new areas of the search space for evolution to search through, which may or may not lead evolution to a new optimal solution to propagating copies of those genes within the current environment.

    Occasionally genes become extinct within a population (various reasons, including random chance); this will close of an area of the search space to evolution.

    Areas that contain genes that are not directly useful for creating copies of the organism are more likely to become extinct within the population.

     

    So, although there are lots of random elements to the process, the process itself is not random; it is fueled by randomness, but directed by the current environment.

     

    Herbie

     

    OK, so let's pick one of those n-dimension as the "Ability to defend a world-killing asteroid". I'd say that the genes that map onto that dimension are the intelligent (and or social) genes. If asteroids are as a certainty as the development of a solar system, then wouldn't the "environment" be the astro environment? and "success" be the ability to twart an asteroid?

     

    And this ability (intelligence) just happens to help in the day-to-day survival, too. I heard that as homo-sapiens became more sociable (living in larger and larger groups) that the ladies select for the geeks (smart) that can ressove problems in a non-violent manners. YES!!!!!!

     

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