Should Earth Shut the Hell Up
Citation (APA): Hanson, R. (2016). Should Earth Shut the Hell Up [Kindle Android version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com
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Should Earth Shut the Hell Up? By Robin Hanson
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Should humanity shout to the galaxy “We are here!”?
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aliens that hear our shouts should be far older and more advanced than us.
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We would lose any fight,
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we might learn much from them, they can learn little from us.
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We are unsure of alien friendliness.
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all of them instead seem to keep quiet and hide. That seems worrisome.
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SE SONO VICINI
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If aliens are instead far away, then by the time any response gets here we will be extinct, or will have already learned most of what aliens could teach us.
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X SE SONO LONTANI... INUTILITÀ
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these considerations seem to make a strong, if not overwhelming, case for not yelling on purpose yet.
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we should wait and learn more before yelling.
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the case for not letting each group decide this for themselves seems overwhelming. Such decisions have global consequences.
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If global governance makes sense for anything, it makes sense for this.
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Some say that we can’t control yells to aliens (Harrison 2014). But far fewer people can yell loudly to aliens than can add CO2 to our atmosphere.
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Earth has in fact been yelling to aliens, but accidentally, such as by radar that probes planets, asteroids, and comets.
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x SEGNALI ACCIDENTALI
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our loudest yells come from the Arecibo radar in Puerto Rico, when used to probe asteroids and the like.
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There are some people, [Seth Shostak] acknowledges, who might worry that broadcasting “The Day the Earth Stood Still” could be inimical to our interests. He added, “I think that if these people are truly worried about such things, they might best begin by shutting down the radar at the local airport.” (Overbye 2008)
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x ARGOMENTO LIBERTARIO
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we can use the amounts that we spend on accidental yells to help guess the yell risk that we should tolerate.
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Thus if the world were in a steady state of income and radar cost and sending, we might estimate that continued indefinite use of the Arecibo radar in send mode at current levels is a bad deal if, over the long run, such use increases the chance of our being destroyed by aliens by even one in a billion.
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x COSTI BENEFICI
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That seems to me a pretty high bar;
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As the world gets richer,
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x LE COSE SONO PEGGIORI
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improving technology combined with increased spending on radar sending should result in more powerful radar signals,
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we also can’t trust planetary scientists or military strategists to decide if the value they produce via accidental yells is worth the risks they impose. All such parties are plausibly biased by selfish career
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x PUBLIC CHOICE
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fraction of aliens who are friendly.
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a consensus apparently arose among many in this area that aliens must be overwhelmingly friendly
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Most conventional social scientists I know would find this view quite implausible;
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Why is this kind-aliens view then so common?
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x PERCHÈ L ORTODOSS
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non-social-scientists have believed modern cultural propaganda claims that our dominant cultures today have a vast moral superiority over most other cultures through history.
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x IPOTESI: SI CREDE AL PIÙ AVANZATI PIÙ MORALI
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This propaganda naturally suggests that very advanced aliens must have long since eliminated such conflict.
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Communist SETI researchers similarly assumed aliens to be communist.
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Yes, over time violence has fallen, but we advance in part by learning to more finely condition our behavior on context. We pick fewer pointless fights, but we also more quickly take advantage of those who can’t fight back (Pfeffer 2010).
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x TEORIA DELLA VIOLENZA
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Think of academics who are cordial among equals, but unfairly referee papers from rivals who can’t much retaliate.
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Aliens who treat their equals well may still treat humans badly.
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we should cut way back on accidental yelling to aliens, such as via Arecibo radar sending, if continuing at current rates would over the long run bring even a one in a billion chance of alerting aliens to come destroy us. And even if this chance is now below one in a billion, it will rise with time
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Pascal’s Alien Wager
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In the ordinary Pascal’s wager, God is said to greatly reward those who believe in him and do what he favors. The rewards are so huge that even those who assign only a small chance to God existing are wise to try to make themselves believe.
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x SCOMMESSA DI PASCAL
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A standard response is to point out that a great many different Gods might exist, each of whom favor different actions. If you have little idea of which Gods exist or of what acts they favor, then there is little point in taking their rewards into account.
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x RISPOSTA STANDARD
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an aliens version of Pascal’s Wager.
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there are many other possible kinds of aliens.
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maybe there are aliens with a strong sense of status who will destroy us for being uppity by speaking louder than our status justifies.
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x RAZZA ALIENA. IPOTESI
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I estimate yelling to be a bad idea.
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Slow Growth Is Plenty Fast
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The lack of visible aliens may be explained in part via a strong tendency of all societies to become “feudal,” with elites “suppressing merit competition and mobility, ensuring that status would be inherited” and resulting in “scientific stagnation.”
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x IPOTESI BRIN SUL SILENZIO
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Today, in contrast, rates of innovation are high,
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BRIN VALE X IL PASSATO
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This change is called the “industrial revolution,” and it was indeed a good thing.
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new networks of experts talking.)
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IPOTESI CAUSA RIV
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While Brin sees inequality as the main obstacle to innovation, in fact today inequality promotes innovation in important ways.
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x DISEGUAGL E INNOVAZ
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most innovation today happens within for-profit firms, and private for-profit firms put a lot more effort into innovation than do public for-profit firms. Compared to publicly traded firms, privately owned firms invest a 2.5 times larger fraction of their assets, and are 3.5 times more responsive to changes in investment opportunities. Yet private firms cannot exist without great wealth concentration; they are usually owned by fewer than three shareholders, and 83% are managed by the controlling shareholder (Asker et. al. 2011).
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c PRIVATO E CONCENTRAZ
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modern world doesn’t actually seem to have much less inheritance of wealth
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EREDITÀ: INNOVATIVI IL DINAMISMO SOCIALE NN CONTA
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The detailed work of Greg Clark finds very similar degrees of long-term inheritance around the world today and across history. Specifically Clark finds that the intergenerational correlation of social status remains in the range of 0.7 to 0.8 across all these societies: medieval England, modern England, pre-industrial Sweden, modern Sweden, the United States, Quing and Communist China, Meiji and modern Japan, and Chile (Clark 2014).
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My stronger criticism is that the world before the industrial revolution did innovate.
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X SI INNOVAVA ANCHE PRIMA!
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During the forager era, the number of foragers doubled about every quarter million years. During the farming era the number of farmers doubled about every thousand years. And during our industry era our economy has doubled about every fifteen years (Hanson 2000). In all three eras, growth was primarily caused by innovation.
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x POPOL E INNOVAZIO
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It is even plausible for a civilization to reach very advanced levels while growing at the much slower forager rate.
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x TEMPI COSMOLOGICI
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aliens tending to fall into cultures and institutions that discourage innovation is just not by itself a plausible explanation for the “great silence”
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Perhaps one could have more success if one combined this slow-growth hypothesis with another hypothesis about very short time windows in which civilizations had to grow before something killed them off.
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x ALTERNATIVA DEL FILTRO
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Barkow seems to assume that alien styles are largely determined by the specific biological environments
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x COME SARSNNO GLI SIENI?
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far less sense for aliens who are a million or a billion years more advanced– far more likely timescales.
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x SCALE TEMPORALI E ABOLIZIONE EFFETTI EVOLUT
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aliens selected far more by their final environment than their initial environment.
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some plausible forecasts
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physics and basic physical resources are the same across the universe,
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HANNO LIVELLATO TUTTO IN MODO ARTIF
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advanced aliens are physically similar across the universe,
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sexual reproduction is quite unlikely to last.
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advanced aliens should similarly design themselves
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Such vivid examples may not be “art,” but neither also are they simply functional.
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CORPI COME ARTE
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very old aliens should be accustomed to very low levels of growth and innovation. After all, the rates familiar to us just can’t be sustained for millions and billions of years.
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x CRESCITA E INNOVAZIONE SCARSA
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very advanced aliens should not be either generically friendly or generically hostile to outsiders. Instead they should be very good at making their friendship or hostility appropriately context-dependent. That is, aliens should be very good at figuring out when and in what precise way being friendly or hostile will best achieve their ends.
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what exactly could humans eventually do to help or hurt them?
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LA DOMANDA DELL ALIENO
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advanced aliens will be very patient, but also very selfish
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L EGOISMO E PRUDENZA. VIRTÙ EVOLUTIVO
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anything less than complete control of evolution would not end evolution; it would instead create a new environment for adaptation.
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x L EVOLUZIONE NN SI ABOLISCE
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Selection Is Coming
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Advanced technology means that a species need no longer be selected by environmental pressures