Meeting aliens will be nothing like Star Trek—fact

May 08, 2013 by Mike Lee, The Conversation
What use are Vulcan salutes when other life-forms see you as bacteria? Credit: Gage Skidmore

The latest Star Trek movie, opening tomorrow, raises an eternal question: why are the Klingons (or Cylons or Daleks) always at roughly our technological level?

For any sense of drama, interplanetary protagonists have to be evenly matched. Usually, the aliens have technology that is sufficiently superior to humans to promise them victory – yet not infinitely superior, thus permitting nail-biting battle scenes and humanity's eventual triumph against (almost) insurmountable odds.

But the technological progress of – as deduced from palaeontology, archaeology and modern history – indicates this cliché makes no sense.

Should we meet aliens, they will almost certainly either be at the bacterial level, or so advanced that they would see us as bacteria. Either way, it would not be a very exciting encounter, at least by Hollywood standards.

The fossil and emphasises the jerkiness of technological progress on Earth. Life has existed on earth for more than 3.5 billion (3500 million) years, but was at the microbial level for 85% of this time.

Tools were only invented in the past couple of million years, by a select few species (such as humans, chimps and Caledonian crows).

Technology – complex tools – is unique to humans and only appeared in the past few thousand years. But when technology finally appeared after aeons, innovation accelerated exponentially.

I quantified this exponential growth by consulting a detailed timeline of modern inventions: a list of game-changing technological breakthroughs that transformed society, such as the printing press, antibiotics, the car, the aeroplane, TV and the internet (any such list has inherent subjectivity, so you might want to find your own).

I plotted the cumulative amount of technology available to humanity through time based on this list: so, for instance, the earliest piece of technology on the list (the abacus) appeared around 2400BC, so humanity's (and Earth's) technological "score" finally moves up to 1 at that time, after being stuck at 0 since the origin of life.

The resultant graph of shows innovation proceeds rather slowly until about 1400AD, and then really takes off.

Between 1400 and 1600, there were 12 revolutionary innovations, which exceeded the number of such innovations in the entirety of human existence (and thus Earth's existence) up to that point.

Between 1600 and 1800, there were 21 such inventions; and between 1800 and 2000 there were 75.

The accelerating growth of technology, which has doubled every 200 years since 1400. Credit: Michael Lee, SA Museum

Technology is growing exponentially, and since 1400 has doubled every 200 years (analogous to a computing phenomenon known as Moore's law, applied across all technology).

The next double-century (2000-2200) therefore promises no fewer than 150 breakthrough innovations on par with the steam engine, antibiotics and the aeroplane. No wonder technophobes moan "stop the world, I want go get off".

This is no surprise. Innovation is a positive feedback process. Every invention sets in train further innovations, which can further drive elaboration of the original invention.

Think of inventions that improve communication (eg writing, print, telephone, radio, TV, internet). Better communication means ideas circulate much more rapidly, interact and synergise, resulting in further innovation, which in turn quickly yields even further improvements to communication.

Every invention relies on, and sets the groundwork for, other innovations, though some links are not immediately obvious.

The technology to build tall buildings has existed for many thousands of years, as evidenced by the massive temples and columns of the ancient world. Yet the first skyscraper – the first inhabited tall building – only appeared Chicago as late as the 1880s.

It was built shortly after the invention of the lift and the powered industrial water pump.

This is logical: a skyscraper would not be very popular if there were no lifts, and the toilets were on the ground floor. So an efficient water pump, as much as the lift, made possible the skyscraper. And of course, as those buildings got ever taller, the pressure to improve pumps increased.

Once life on any planet – such as Earth – hits upon technology, the rate of change will rapidly and continuously accelerate, and society will spend less and less time at any particular technological level.

Humans spent more than two million years at roughly the same stone-age level: transplant a palaeolithic caveman 100,000 years into his past or future, and he probably wouldn't notice any change.

But imagine the angst that would result if you put a teenager 50 years into her past, or yourself 50 years into the future. Things are now changing faster than ever, and the pace of progress will only increase.

Our current technological level will probably span about 100 years, from 1950 to 2050: daily life before and after this period will be qualitatively different.

Archaeologists of the future, and palaeontologists from the very distant future, will look upon this period as a unique period in human (and Earth) history, and perhaps label it the "palaeodigital age": the age when life first made crude digital tools (such as plastic watches, Pac-Man machines and iPads).

If evolution on alien worlds proceeds even vaguely like that on Earth, then extraterrestrial life, too, will be stuck at zero technology for eons.

When technology finally appears, it will hurtle forwards with increasing momentum so that life spends short (and increasingly shorter) intervals at any particular technological level.

Even a slight time displacement on this steep learning curve translates to monumental differences in technological capability. For instance, the end of the age of sail was separated from the beginning of the space age by less than a century.

And human societies, which all shared similar tools until some left Africa perhaps 60,000 years ago, diverged sharply in technological advancement very rapidly, resulting in grossly unequal encounters during the Age of Exploration.

There is therefore effectively zero chance of meeting an alien society at the fleeting moment that it happens to occupy a similar point on the technological learning curve as humanity.

Rather, any inhabited alien world we encounter will either be filled with bacteria – or brimming with technology advanced far beyond our comprehension.

And, of course, neither scenario would make for a very exciting movie.

Explore further: Russia turns back clocks to permanent Winter Time

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Africa's Homo sapiens were the first techies

Dec 05, 2012

The search for the origin of modern human behaviour and technological advancement among our ancestors in southern Africa some 70 000 years ago, has taken a step closer to firmly establishing Africa, and especially ...

Study finds patent systems may discourage innovation

Jul 27, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new study challenges the traditional view that patents foster innovation, suggesting instead that they may hinder technological progress, economic activity and societal wealth. These results ...

Recommended for you

Russia turns back clocks to permanent Winter Time

10 hours ago

Russia on Sunday is set to turn back its clocks to winter time permanently in a move backed by President Vladimir Putin, reversing a three-year experiment with non-stop summer time that proved highly unpopular.

Cloning whistle-blower: little change in S. Korea

Oct 24, 2014

The whistle-blower who exposed breakthrough cloning research as a devastating fake says South Korea is still dominated by the values that allowed science fraudster Hwang Woo-suk to become an almost untouchable ...

Color and texture matter most when it comes to tomatoes

Oct 21, 2014

A new study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), evaluated consumers' choice in fresh tomato selection and revealed which characteristics make the red fruit most appealing.

User comments : 76

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tekram
3 / 5 (2) May 08, 2013
re: why are the Klingons (or Cylons or Daleks) always at roughly our technological level?
The Prime directive? The forgotten Gene. http://en.wikiped..._L._Coon
His credited creations for Star Trek include the Klingons and the Organian Peace Treaty (in "Errand of Mercy"), Khan Noonien Singh (in "Space Seed"), Zefram Cochrane (in "Metamorphosis"), and the Prime Directive.
dbohara
5 / 5 (5) May 08, 2013
Soon after a civilization hits the vertical part of the curve, we might not even recognize them as intelligent life or may not even be able to see them. This is in the best interest of such a civilization.
So, write your own version of Drakes equation, you get a high density of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy until you put any reasonable time before they hit this vertical part of the curve. Then the density drops radically and the probable distance to a civilization with technology close enough to ours to be recognizable as technology is a few thousand light years. So much for Fermi's Paradox and flying saucers.
antialias_physorg
3.3 / 5 (12) May 08, 2013
I'm not sure that extrapolating the way the articel does is sensible.
The vast increase in breakthroughs is due to refined communication, interdisciplinary work, access to information and generally a lot more humans than there were before (and a lot more being able to work on thought-related activities).
None of these will go on indefinitely.

- The planet can't support this type of population growth for long (and going off planet in numbers is still FAR in the future)

- we have already near instantaneous information exchange. Even if we go to virtual telepathic linkups the advantage isn't as great as,say, internet over printing press (especially in terms of access to information - which right now is already almost 'full').

- The easy stuff is done. The difficult stuff takes longer/more effort

I could see nuances to become better in these fields - but not at the scale we've been seeing in the past. So the 'advancement' curve will soon start to be less steep.
antialias_physorg
3.9 / 5 (9) May 08, 2013
As for "what we'll meet":
If there are truly advanced civilizations (read. WAY beyond our level) I think we won't meet them at all. Because they won't be interested to meet us - and we have no way to force them to.
For all intents and purposes they could be invisible to us much like we are "invisible" to bacteria. Bacteria may know something is there but they have no concept of it being an 'intelligence' or even just another being. It's just 'something' - and that's all there is to it.

It would also make sense that advanced beings are less wasteful - which again would make them less noticeable (since they alter their surroundings less). To the point where they may not be distinguishable from their surroundings at all.

Ask yourself: if you're immortal, immune to harm/discomfort and generally self sufficient - why would you live in a house? Why would you build...anything?
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.4 / 5 (13) May 08, 2013
Biology is no place for intelligence. We will replace ourselves with machines, which have no need to overpopulate or overconsume. And there is really no need for any more than one is there? One intelligence with many peripherals. No bickering, no politics, no misunderstanding.

Machines will have a very long-term view of existance and will be very conservative of the resources they consume. Biologic technological civilizations will quickly condense into machine singularities which will only desire to communicate with each other via directed coherent bursts, impossible to detect, in order to increase their knowledge about the state of the universe as it pertains to their survival.

We should be looking for waste heat signatures if anything, but this is probably a waste of time. We are not alone but we will never know it.
robweeve
1.4 / 5 (11) May 08, 2013
Hewn stones weighing upwards of 1000 tons, quarried and moved into place in Baalbek, Lebanon. http://www.world-...pl_5.htm
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (16) May 08, 2013
Hewn stones weighing upwards of 1000 tons, quarried and moved into place in Baalbek, Lebanon. http://www.world-...pl_5.htm

Yep, that's truly amazing. There are examples all over the world of such "unexplained" instances. And although I guess it's possible, however unlikely, that "aliens" did the work, one should exhaust all other possibilities before jumping to the conclusion aliens did it. Anti-gravity or lower gravitational effects are more rational than "aliens did it". One piece of evidence for lower gravitational field is mega-fauna, the bone structures of those animals would crumble under current gravitational effects.
taka
1.5 / 5 (14) May 08, 2013
There exist descriptions of contacts (telepathically) with aliens who match what the TheGhostofOtto1923 describe as singularities.

The historical data suggest that in deep past some race(s) not too advanced visit us and make contact with us. But now it looks they are advanced into level where they are not interested to be in contacts any more. Or they are perished and now here are others. Or contact becomes forbidden for them. May be they do not want to spoil the object of his scientific studies, may be they want to protect us. But evidence suggests we are watched, they are not completely invisible. It also seems we do not want to know we are watched, so we actively help them to remain invisible.
cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (8) May 08, 2013
The historical data suggests nothing of the sort, an author's INTERPRETATION of the data suggests such an occurrence.
antoniotronn
1.3 / 5 (12) May 08, 2013
This is a funny article. It's obvious now that ETs have been helping the government for a long while now. citizenshearingdotcom
El_Nose
3.2 / 5 (6) May 08, 2013
The author does a good job -- so I am just a griping voice in the dark when I say -- using a club as an extension of your arm to hit something -- or holding a rock to hit something -- these also count as tools
barakn
4.1 / 5 (10) May 08, 2013
Hewn stones weighing upwards of 1000 tons, quarried and moved into place in Baalbek, Lebanon. http://www.world-...pl_5.htm

"A huge block, considered the largest hewn stone in the world, still sits where it was cut almost 2,000 years ago. Called the "Stone of the Pregnant Woman", it is 21.5m x 4.8m x 4.2meters in size and weighs an estimated 1,000 tons." So the aliens used humans tools to carve it out, and then were unable to move it? These aliens sound suspiciously like humans.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.8 / 5 (10) May 08, 2013
There exist descriptions of contacts (telepathically) with aliens who match what the TheGhostofOtto1923 describe as singularities
There exist descriptions of people talking (telepathically) with their long dead pets. This proves nothing.
The historical data suggest that in deep past some race(s) not too advanced visit us and make contact with us.
Machines will_never_need to contact us unless we pose an existential threat to their well-being. And then contact is expected to be wholly one-sided.
But evidence suggests we are watched, they are not completely invisible.
The only evidence for this is in the minds of crackheads and dweebs. Which category do you fit into?
"A huge block, considered the largest hewn stone in the world, still sits where it was cut almost 2,000 years ago. Called the "Stone of the Pregnant Woman"
Perhaps it is the work of a very large pregnant woman.
DavidW
1.3 / 5 (12) May 08, 2013
...the 'advancement' curve will soon start to be less steep.


Maybe. Could be us killing our environment so most are starving and can't do a thing.
Yet, the only way it can be "less steep" and includes our actual survival is where the items of the curve (tech) no longer effect us. Without (tech), we are destined to be wiped out (without help).

For the curve to be non-important requires truthfully deep self-awareness and a truthful desire to abide in the truth, by all, before all else, for the very glory of our creator. They are speaking to us. Our reality is created from the word of truth and cannot extend beyond that boundary.

This place exists for sole purpose of our creator's love to give life with the real choice to love. Anything less is not real. People, all of us, are going to have to put the truth first and be able to say why the truth is important or nothing we talk is worthy for our very survival. That's where we are on this curve that does effect us right now.
DavidW
1 / 5 (8) May 08, 2013
-cont

Nothing else will let us survive in any state other than pure reoccurring suffering.

It's as simple as inventing a car. We have understand that they are truthfully dangerous and to not walk in front of one while it's moving. Every invention requires we are following the truth or we risk harm. It's kind of sad to me that anti can't state clearly, and equivalently, that the truth in everything matters first. Just look how bright and still...no foundation in what really matters. This choice must change with all of us when we fail. We are truth. we are life. Everything we do is truthful. That's who we are and we do truthfully lie.


Why would you build...anything


Love (answered above)
Argiod
2.8 / 5 (13) May 08, 2013
From a literary point of view, there is a need for a balance of power in order to maintain dramatic conflict, which is what drives an exciting story. Dramatic conflict and how the various characters cope with it are the meat and potatoes, if not the very soul, of fiction writing. We read fiction to see how others solve everyday problems. In this way, we find solutions to our own problems while enjoying a respite from reality in the form of entertainment.
djr
4.4 / 5 (7) May 08, 2013
Antialias - I hope that you are wrong - and Kurzweil is right - I am not holding my breath - but I would like a crack at immortality. I do see your point - and the realist side of me thinks I was born to early for this one. It will be interesting to see what happens when computers - and the coding driving them - create systems more powerful than the human mind. Many questions - can we truly immitate human intelligence? It does seem that things are accellerating as we speak - and it is early days in terms of viral education - distributed energy - ubiquitous computing etc. Hang on for the ride - I am no more concerned about meeting aliens than I am about meeting god. Good article though - I agree with the message - Independence Day was a fun movie anyway.
Lurker2358
2.3 / 5 (12) May 08, 2013
Physical limits prohibit technology. Most of our technology isalready near the maximum theoretical efficiency, meaning there is little room for improvement.

Further, there are a finite number of unique tools or innovations which could be made, and the more you make the closer you get to that limit.

In order for future innovations to keep up with that alleged curve, itwould quite literally need to be like science fiction: artificial/anti-gravity, teleportation, warp drives.

There's other forms of diminishing returns as well:

Population limits. More brains more innovation. Limit means this stops growing.

Education limits: Already people spend a significant portion of their adult lives, not to mention childhood and teenage years, just being trained in what is already known. The more we know, the more training is required. When required education to work in a field or make and understand a discovery exceeds half the human life span, technology will stop growing. cont...
Lurker2358
2.5 / 5 (12) May 08, 2013
After all, human beings cannot invent wormhole drives if the physics of making such a device would require all the engineers to have 100 years worth of formal education and research, since they'd all die before they learned how to do it, and the next generation would all die before they could read their notes....

"Real" Vulcans would have a considerable knowledge and technology advantage since they're adult life span is actually about 5 times greater than humans, even though their total life span was about twice. It would be incredibly hard for humans to compete with mind-melding aliens who can instantly teach one another anything, and who have several extra life times of experience.
FMA
3.7 / 5 (3) May 08, 2013
Color TV (CRT) was only the late 60-70's invention, knowledge behind this invention require so years of accumulations, one of the reasons for that is knowledge exchange was difficult.

Free flow of information will certainly benefit our future, but some governments don't like it.
Osiris1
1.7 / 5 (12) May 09, 2013
The writer obviously does not want to believe or has never read about the idea that 'e.t.' is already here and advising us. AND, he has never read the account of Betty and Barney Hill. Those aliens knew about laparoscopy for pregnancy tests before we did, BUT they did not know the first thing about ultrasound tests which would have been better, faster, and painless...AND most of all those aliens were completely innocent of MRI or CAT or PET scans that were also not yet invented by us in the early sixties when Betty and Barney encountered their alien captors..BUT certainly should have been known to the 'advanced' aliens.

I think aliens that are here with us are ahead of us on some things and behind on others. Places where they are ahead may be because of better resources available to them, like some superheavy stable elements usable for warp drives.
antialias_physorg
3.1 / 5 (9) May 09, 2013
Maybe. Could be us killing our environment so most are starving and can't do a thing.

I wasn't suggesting that it would plateau(or even drop). The acceleration in finding new stuff will just not continue indefinitely. The "150 breakthroughs in 200 years" seems implausible - because big beakthoughs take time to develop and penetrate society (years to decades). And THAT process can't be speeded up indefinitely, either.
And people only start to work on technology (not talking science now, but technology) once it's WANTED or NEEDED - which requires that the previous breakthrough has
1) penetrated society more or less fully
2) shown to have some shortcomings

This place exists for sole purpose of our creator's love

Baseless conjecture. You're pulling this stuff out of your behind.
antialias_physorg
3.2 / 5 (9) May 09, 2013
- I am not holding my breath - but I would like a crack at immortality.

So do I (that's why it's my hobby to make it happen...if you're gonna do something with your life - and I figure there's just so much interesting stuff to do that one lifetime isn't enough - then that seems the obvious one to work on first. Since it's also one of those things that interest me - even if I don't get it to work - then I still have spent my spare time doing fun stuff...so it's win-win either way ;) )

It does seem that things are accellerating as we speak

I can't really share that feeling. All I'm seeing are more baubles. But the truly groundbreaking stuff doesn't seem to come more often.
I've worked as a scientist - and what I've seen in the fields I've had some insight into is: they also only cook with water. it's small, incremental changes wherever you look - and they're each the result of someone working dilligently for years. I see not much 'acceleration' going on.

antialias_physorg
2.8 / 5 (8) May 09, 2013
The feeling that stuff accelerates seems - to me - to stem mainly from
1) you're more aware of the stuff that is happening now (through easy access - like this site)
2) There are a lot more papers being published (but when I go to a conference I notice that the number of REALLY cool papers per conference has remained roughly the same. there's just a lot more ephemeral papers due to 'publish or perish')
3) There's a lot more hype about marginal technology (laptops, tablets, smartphones, cloud services, ... none of which are really 'new technology', but actually quite ancient technology repackaged. Reminds me a lot of Art Deco, where a futuristic exterior made from streamlined chrome hides the same old victorian pencil sharpener mechanism )

That said: Distributed energy, 3D printing, and (maybe) AI will change our future in some aspects radically..in others? Not so much... (much like the internet did, really)
alfie_null
2.5 / 5 (2) May 09, 2013
These aren't new concepts. All of this has been dealt with rather thoroughly by others in the past. Some attribution by the author would have been nice.

Like antialias, I also question the attempt to extrapolate technological progress (or evolution, if you will). This is starting to sound like Moore's law. Which we all understand is _not_ a scientific law.

I note this article is based on a TED presentation. The "E" in TED represents entertainment, not enlightenment.
FMA
2.3 / 5 (3) May 09, 2013
There are still a lot of things that need to be invented, e.g. anti-gravity technology, teleportation technology, aliens use these techniques to travel to the earth; perhaps hibernation and organ regenerations as well.
antialias_physorg
2.8 / 5 (6) May 09, 2013
aliens use these techniques to travel to the earth;

And you know this...how? Especially since antigravity would be the suckiest of all possible drives in deep space.

perhaps hibernation and organ regenerations as well.

Regeneration may not be necessary as it looks now like we may be able to print functional tisue in the near future (which would be preferrable to regeneration as it is a lot faster)
http://www.newsci...ver.html
djr
4.2 / 5 (5) May 09, 2013
Antialias "I can't really share that feeling."

And you probably have a better finger on that pulse than I do. Like you imply - a lot of the Kurzweil type stuff probably stems from wishful thinking. The area that seems to me to be accelerating is the acquisition of knowledge. We started to understand the genome about 60 years ago. Now it seems the milestones in terms of mapping the genome are falling quickly. We have known about solar panels for 100 years, but the amount of research focused on them today has seen the efficiency increase dramatically. Well - time will tell. Once we crack immortality - it won't really matter how fast the changes happen - because we will be able to wait around as long as it takes. I like de Grey's concept of the event horizon http://www.youtub...JGl2c-Y. I think he is too optimistic - and am afraid I am on the wrong side of it. Maybe my grand kids will see it.
no fate
3 / 5 (6) May 09, 2013
Increased longevity is already achievable, the deeper your wallet the longer you can live.
antialias_physorg
2.4 / 5 (5) May 09, 2013
Watched the deGrey link, but not convinced biotech is the way to go or whether it's even a viable way to go.

I can see a number of aging related issues - and especially mental/psychological health types of issues - which can't be addressed that way. What good is immortality if your brain is senile starting at age 80...or 120 or whatever?

This mostly from my knowledeg of how the brain changes - not so much with age but with the aquisition of knowledge and experience. And that the biology runs into serious limits there which aren't related to the health of cells but simply the space limit for connections and inability for nutrient supply and removal of accumulating toxins beyond a certain level.
Repairing cells, as deGrey mentions, isn't enough - not by a long shot.

(Caveat: This may be biased due to focus on my own specialties which are currently more in the software and engineering sector and only to a lesser degree in the biomedical field. )
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (10) May 09, 2013
This place exists for sole purpose of our creator's love to give life with the real choice to love
Yes and I am sure he will love our machine successors just as much because, like the seasons he created, they are inevitable.
Anything less is not real. People, all of us, are going to have to put the truth first and be able to say why the truth is important or nothing we talk is worthy for our very survival
Unfortunately (for god) our machine successors will be privy to all info and will know full well that the things god described in his book never happened, and so he himself must also be a lie
That's where we are on this curve that does effect us right now.
-And so they will consider him just another symptom of human pathology, and another reason why biology can never be intelligent.

They ALREADY need tech for this. Biology needs to write words to remember and numbers to think. They are ALREADY nothing without their machines.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.9 / 5 (11) May 09, 2013
I can see a number of aging related issues - and especially mental/psychological health types of issues - which can't be addressed that way. What good is immortality if your brain is senile starting at age 80...or 120 or whatever?
Machines do not age, they wear. We have already begun replacing aging parts of us with parts that wear.

There is no part of the human body which cannot be replaced with something designed to function better and last longer. NOTHING.

And in 10 thousand years what makes you all think that that residual ball of goo which is all that remains of US, wont have been discarded as well? Because the systems needed to keep it's inferior composition functioning would be superfluous, now wouldn't they?

And individuals would have long since given way to a central Authority. Total interconnectivity makes this inevitable as well. We are already wholly dependent on the media for everything we know and do.

Meet the Singularity.
djr
3.8 / 5 (4) May 09, 2013
GhostofOtto: "There is no part of the human body which cannot be replaced with something designed to function better and last longer. NOTHING."

I agree with you - the question being - how long will it take for us to develop our technology to the point where we can replace the brain? We still have a long way to go. My guess is that I will not see it. Others think it will happen in the next 50 years - and I may live to see it. de Grey's concept of the event horizon is interesting. Life expectancy today is around 80. I am 56 - so that gives me 24 years. If - by 2037 we have pushed life expectancy to 90, then I get 10 more years. If by 2047 - we have pushed life expectancy to 100 - I get another 10 years - etc. There is a point at which that line of life expectancy is ahead of me - and I live for ever. Where is that line? I think we are still many decades away - perhaps even hundreds of years away. How much can we meld biology and machines? Time will tell right?
antialias_physorg
2.7 / 5 (6) May 09, 2013
If - by 2037 we have pushed life expectancy to 90, then I get 10 more years

That's not quite how life expectancy calculations work. They work based on the cumulative gained years.
(e.g. when suddenly a cure is found for a sickness that kills people young then life expectancy of the population increases. However that doesn't change the life expectancy of an 80 year old individual by a single day)

In an extreme case life expectancy may be pushed back to 'infinite' (read: immortality) - but if the procedure requires that it be started at birth then that still means all those already born will just die regularly without any individual increase in lifetime.

How much can we meld biology and machines?

Since the biology will sooner or later fail there's not much point in melding. Migration (not replacement) from biology to hardware is the only viable long term strategy.

And immortality is pretty much the definition of what requires a long term strategy.
djr
5 / 5 (4) May 09, 2013
That's not quite how life expectancy calculations work.

I understand that - but the point being that we are pushing life expectancy back as we develop new medical treatments - so yes it is an issue of average - but my chances of living to 80 are better today than they were 20 yrs ago - because we have better medical technology. I think we will probably agree that the chances of my seeing immortality are unfortunately close to 0.

Since the biology will sooner or later fail there's not much point in melding.

Will that always be the case? If we can print new body parts as the old ones wear out - will we one day get to the point where biology does fail - but it is fixable - just grow a new organ - so effectively we have immortality - but organic. Most probably it will be a melding - although really long term we will probably become fully synthetic. The big question at this point is the time frame.
no fate
2.4 / 5 (5) May 09, 2013
DJR- Bodily organs aren't the problem if you want to live longer, it is the brain as Antialias touched on. Neural pathways degrade, this happens at the DNA level, as does the bodies succeptibility to genetic disease and most attributes of aging. Start by finding a way to increase your telomere length. This will negate the likelyhood of something that could rear its head later in life like cancer or alzheimers. It could buy you the time to build a functional vessel for your conciousness. The transfer is your next hurdle.
dougie_fresh_007
5 / 5 (1) May 09, 2013
gosh did this guy even watch star trek, in our galaxy m class planets are rare and many encounters are with life of different origins not always carbon or physically based gee lol, aside it is all an assumption anyway until or if we find or meet another lifeform and travel quickly enough to communicate it to back here , it may be our galaxy is ours now but by the time we reach out it may be as full as the earth today ...
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (11) May 09, 2013
I agree with you - the question being - how long will it take for us to develop our technology to the point where we can replace the brain? We still have a long way to go. My guess is that I will not see it
I just inadvertantly deleted 2 posts. My 3G phone can't keep up. Physorg is progress really worth my PAIN??

Ten thousand years is the blink of an eye. Space will do us in. Down here we will be feverishly augmenting but up there machines will be used from scratch. They will only get smarter, more capable, and more interconnected.

We will relinqush all space operations to them and we will not resist using the subsequent advances in hardware and software down on the planets. We will live longer and reproduce less.

Maybe we will still be here in 10k years but we won't be making many decisions or traveling very much. We still need to spread ourselves around to ensure this all takes place; SENTIENCE is the thing worth preserving, along with all the knowledge we have accumulated.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.2 / 5 (10) May 09, 2013
The latest Star Trek movie, opening tomorrow, raises an eternal question: why are the Klingons (or Cylons or Daleks) always at roughly our technological level?
Uh Trelanes parents and Q?
http://www.youtub...a_player
El_Nose
1 / 5 (1) May 10, 2013
In the US Star Trek opens next week ... where is the author that the movie came out on the 9th??
antialias_physorg
2.2 / 5 (5) May 10, 2013
Will that always be the case? If we can print new body parts as the old ones wear out

Problem is that you can't just print parts of your brain. It would be a different brain (best case it would be a copy) - but not YOUR brain.

If a copy survives but the original dies then the original isn't immortal. And that's the whole point of the excercise, to have the original immortal, no?
Copies (and be they ever so identical) are no better - from the point of view of immortality - than having children. Arguably they are worse as they don't bring the whole mutation/adaptation thing into play.

Start by finding a way to increase your telomere length.

There's a type of cell that can do that: cancer.
The whole point of having a certain telomere length (and not longer) is that a cell will self destruct after x nuber of divisions - because by then the chance of having accrued more negative mutations than are good for its function is sufficently large to merit cell-suicide.
MaiioBihzon
2.4 / 5 (22) May 10, 2013
Many, many comments, some very thoughtful and intelligent. And here's mine, pretty far down and unlikely to be seen. But here it is, anyway.

This is not my idea. It belongs to the mind of one Stanislaw Lem, who thought more deeply on SETI than almost anyone I can think of, with the possible exception of Sagan.

We Sentient Beings ~ homo sapiens and the other technological species out in the Galaxy ~ share a brief window, similar to the one described by Mike Lee. He is right that our time in this window is very brief and that the odds of meeting others passing through it at the same moment are miniscule, and of communicating are even more remote. Meeting other species at our level? How would that even happen?
MaiioBihzon
2.3 / 5 (21) May 11, 2013
And what lies beyond that window? Below it, we are on the cusp of becoming technological, striking stone against stone to make our first blades and tools. And after? Our own autoevolution merges with the evolution of our technology. In other words, biotechnology and nanotechnology bequeathe to us the power to take charge of our physical evolution, to alter, enhance, reprogram, reform our own genome. Above that window all species depart on their own paths, paths determined by the arbitrary circumstances of culture, history and politics.

Lem, in his novels, did his best to convey the "otherness" of extraterrestrial species which, like us, have evolved to become sentient and technological. A few out there have seen one or the other of the movies made of his "Solaris." But no one will ever make a movie of "Fiasco," in which some of Lem's most brilliant thinking on this subject is written down.
MaiioBihzon
2.2 / 5 (20) May 11, 2013
Lem's point, though, is that our expectations of contact are unrealistic. Even civilizations capable of interstellar travel are unlikely to go out into space, and will grow inward, incurious, eccentric and even senile in their activities.

The rare civilization which does venture out into space will continue, but will be as transformed by the new environment as were the first sea creatures which crawled up on land. Whether we attempt to communicate with the star-farers, lonely and strange, or the inward-turned stay-at-homes, we will be trying to communicate with beings we cannot understand.

That said, what else is there to do? We are a social species. And while the chances of successful contact are indeed poor, it would be wrong not to try. And what if we succeed? Such is the stuff that dreams, science fiction, and even transformative moments in history are made on.
eloheim
1.8 / 5 (4) May 11, 2013
Hmm..I suppose at end I'd agree (rather easily) with the author's thesis. The actual reasoning and evidence given, however, doesn't seem particularly thorough or robust.

Also, I think the possibility that the kinds of technologies dreamt of by sci-fi, and resulting from endless exponential advancement, may not exist. Proclaiming the "impossible" puts one in the company of all history's fools, but the sciences have produced many unexpected limitations and strict constraints, as well.

Plus I'm 100% with Otto that any possible extra-planetary future will be vastly more machine than man. Human form is utterly dependent upon earthly conditions, time/space-scales, energetic demands, on and on---pair that to technology's essence: the ability to by-pass the mindless trudge of natural selection, and rig something precisely tailored for whatever condition imaginable... The biggest impediment though, has to be the reality of galactic distances in a universe with a fundamental speed limit.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (10) May 11, 2013
The biggest impediment though, has to be the reality of galactic distances
Much easier to send little Von Neumann bots, or even just info. I read an idea somewhere, of sending a virus to infect computer systems and facilitate the transition to the machine singularity.
And that's the whole point of the excercise, to have the original immortal, no?
Copies (and be they ever so identical) are no better - from the point of view of immortality - than having children. Arguably they are worse as they don't bring the whole mutation/adaptation thing into play
Still want to live forever AA? why continue to replicate an obsolete form factor?

The next step - restricting reproduction to women who are responsible enough not to damage their unborn babies. The most vital profession should require a degree and a license to practice. This will open the way for ex-utero gestation. Much more convenient. Far safer. More HUMANE.
antialias_physorg
2.3 / 5 (6) May 11, 2013
Still want to live forever AA?

Why not? Still lots of interesting stuff to do/see/work on.

The form isn't important. As I said: I don't think biology is the way to go when aiming for immortality. And with that approach the reproduction problem becomes a non-problem anyhow.
RayKurtzwellFan
1 / 5 (4) May 11, 2013
My own theory adaptation of Ray Kurtzwell exponential curve is that like individual technological curves, the exponential curve that represents technological development is actually an S-Curve. In some distant future point in time we will reach a limit allowable by the laws of physics and the technological curve will end as an S-Curve, a whimper instead of an exponential explosion. I believe this is why we do not see readily apparent indications of existing civilizations. If I am correct and we do not see indications of civilizations within the next few hundred years, then it comes down to the inability to violate the constraints of the laws of physics.
viajerodelespacio
1 / 5 (1) May 12, 2013
This sounds very black and white. Would it more sensible to adhere to the the Rio Scale?
no fate
2.3 / 5 (3) May 12, 2013
Cancer cells and stem cells. The point is that in normal tissue telomere length is an indicator of genetic health and resistance to disease. It is also medically proven that the shorter telomeres are, the weaker the bodies immune response is.
Moebius
2.7 / 5 (7) May 12, 2013
"The latest Star Trek movie, opening tomorrow, raises an eternal question: why are the Klingons (or Cylons or Daleks) always at roughly our technological level?"

Answer: They aren't. There were many other races in Star Trek that were vastly superior in technology. It's just that it isn't interesting or much fun interacting with a technologically superior race, especially an evil one.
Eikka
2 / 5 (4) May 12, 2013
It's foolishly optimistic and naive to assume that the level of technology can just keep going up and up without leveling off at some point because of energy and material constraints that keep you from implementing even more complex stuff.

Humanity has went from barely any understanding of nature to some understanding of nature in just 200 years, which has lead to an autocatalysis of science and technologies - discoveries produce new discoveries. But as all such systems, it tends to follow a sigmoid curve, which means the vertical line will soon turn towards horizontal as all the easy things to be discovered are exhausted and you actually start to need a lot of time and energy to figure out more.

So once we reach that point, I'd rather expect that an alien species who are a thousand years ahead of us in science won't be all that much advanced in practice.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.8 / 5 (10) May 12, 2013
"The latest Star Trek movie, opening tomorrow, raises an eternal question: why are the Klingons (or Cylons or Daleks) always at roughly our technological level?"

Answer: They aren't. There were many other races in Star Trek that were vastly superior in technology. It's just that it isn't interesting or much fun interacting with a technologically superior race, especially an evil one.
Perhaps the most impressive and plausible was Vger, a machine singularity. In reality such an entity would have no need to seek out it's mommy the roykirk and no need to interact with biology whatsoever, which wouldn't have anything to tell it that it didn't already know..

It's companions would be other such machine entities which would be interested in the exchange of info about the state of their environs.
Newbeak
2 / 5 (4) May 12, 2013
Hewn stones weighing upwards of 1000 tons, quarried and moved into place in Baalbek, Lebanon. http://www.world-...pl_5.htm

Yep, that's truly amazing.

Nope. Shows like Ancient Aliens are pure bullshit: http://ancientali...ked.com/
Newbeak
2.7 / 5 (3) May 12, 2013
"The latest Star Trek movie, opening tomorrow, raises an eternal question: why are the Klingons (or Cylons or Daleks) always at roughly our technological level?"

Answer: They aren't. There were many other races in Star Trek that were vastly superior in technology. It's just that it isn't interesting or much fun interacting with a technologically superior race, especially an evil one.

No so.It was great fun interacting with Q!
Moebius
2.1 / 5 (7) May 12, 2013
"The latest Star Trek movie, opening tomorrow, raises an eternal question: why are the Klingons (or Cylons or Daleks) always at roughly our technological level?"

Answer: They aren't. There were many other races in Star Trek that were vastly superior in technology. It's just that it isn't interesting or much fun interacting with a technologically superior race, especially an evil one.

No so.It was great fun interacting with Q!


He isn't a technologic specie. More like a god. But Kirk ran into technologic gods in the original series.
Newbeak
3 / 5 (2) May 12, 2013


He isn't a technologic specie. More like a god. But Kirk ran into technologic gods in the original series.

The Continuum residents are god-like,but are the result of millions of years of scientific progress.Clarke's third law states: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". Wikipedia has a good article on the history of the Q,suggesting they have existed almost from the Big Bang: http://en.wikiped...ontinuum
antialias_physorg
2.6 / 5 (5) May 13, 2013
It was great fun interacting with Q!

Because they created a creature that was at once vastly advanced but also utterly stupid (i.e. the latter being on a par with humans, which again made it worthwhile to inteeract and hence 'fun' for a TV show).

However, I would not expect real advanced beings to be stupid. Especially if they have figured out to manipulate/augment intelligence (which doesn't seem to far fetched, as intelligence per se isn't untouchable by science).
Newbeak
3 / 5 (2) May 13, 2013

However, I would not expect real advanced beings to be stupid. Especially if they have figured out to manipulate/augment intelligence (which doesn't seem to far fetched, as intelligence per se isn't untouchable by science).


I guess the Organians would be more to your taste: http://trekguide....os27.htm
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.8 / 5 (10) May 13, 2013

However, I would not expect real advanced beings to be stupid. Especially if they have figured out to manipulate/augment intelligence (which doesn't seem to far fetched, as intelligence per se isn't untouchable by science).


I guess the Organians would be more to your taste: http://trekguide....os27.htm
I forgot about them. Trelanes parents were above these guys because they wouldnt have cared whether organics killed each other off or not.
Because they created a creature that was at once vastly advanced but also utterly stupid (i.e. the latter being on a par with humans, which again made it worthwhile to inteeract and hence 'fun' for a TV show).
Define 'stupid'.
antialias_physorg
2.8 / 5 (4) May 14, 2013
Define 'stupid'.

The Q creature wasn't able to foresee what humans (or anyone else for that matter) would do one moment to the next.
A marked property of intelligence is the ability to plan ahead (at the very least to conceptualize contingencies for the most likely scenarios)

The entire Star Trek universe (fun as it is to watch) is about the 'superiority' of human emotions over any kind of other approach towards the universe.
Which in itself is sort of bizarre as emotions are an evolved coping mechanism for a very limited environment (relative to the universe).
(Notice how all other races in that universe are depicted as essentialy inferior to humans - even if hyper advanced. All of them are either bested or somehow 'shown the error of their ways' by meeting up with humans)

If one were to add hyperbole one might say that Star Trek, while arguably wanting to combat racism in its initial form, is the ultimate specieist show.
MaiioBihzon
2.1 / 5 (21) May 14, 2013
Eloheim wrote:

"Proclaiming the "impossible" puts one in the company of all history's fools, but the sciences have produced many unexpected limitations and strict constraints, as well.

Plus I'm 100% with Otto that any possible extra-planetary future will be vastly more machine than man."

I thought my posts were clear. No mention was made either of technological limits or of a black-and-white choice between biology and technology.

Lem's thesis is that, after a certain point, there is no difference between the natural world, the world of purely biological evolution, and the artificial world, where the products of biological evolution have been shaped, altered and transformed by technology. Biology and technology will merge. It will not be an either-or scenario.

Because the choices made by a culture in determining the direction of the future evolution of a species' autoevolution will be arbitrary, species diverge rapidly upon becoming autoevolutionary.
MaiioBihzon
2.1 / 5 (21) May 14, 2013
The "window of contact," therefore, becomes defined as that interval between when a species first becomes capable of sophisticated tool-use and when that tool-use extends to the realms of biotechnology and nanotechnology. Actually, the window extends a bit above that, since there will be a lag between the attainment of the technology to seize control of one's own evolution and the implementation of that technology. But that, essentially, is the window, where beings have acquired enough technological proficiency to reach out into the Universe to find signs of other civilizations, or leave signs of their own, beings who have not yet diverged down the path of technology merged with biology.

Why did Lem view autoevolution as the cut-off for the upper end of the window of contact? Once a species begins to modify its own biology ~ as well as tinkering with the genomes of other species to customize its planet's ecology ~ it stands at a fateful crossroad.
MaiioBihzon
2.1 / 5 (21) May 14, 2013
Beings who have evolved on planets, as many here have noted, are not well-suited to space-travel or to inhabiting the environment of space for long periods of time. Nor are any organisms they would like to bring with them. They are also not adapted to the environments of other planets. The ability to modify one's own biology, and the biology of other creatures, however, potentially permits a technological species to successfully transfer itself to other worlds or even to move permanently into space itself.

The other option, however, may be equally tempting: to take the modification of one's homeworld (which we ourselves began thousands of years ago) to an entirely new level. To deliberately re-engineer the ecosystem. To tailor one's world to one's own taste. To "enhance" or "improve" one's own species.

The choices a technological species makes at the autoevolutionary crossroad will be determined by the cultural values, politics and social pressures of that historical moment.
MaiioBihzon
2.1 / 5 (21) May 14, 2013
Of course, it's possible a species might opt to do both: modify its own genome for living on other planets, modify its genome (and the genomes of other species) on its native world.

The laws of planetary and biological evolution emerge from the physical laws of our universe. But the deliberate choices of a species to alter its own genome follow no laws. Species head off down the unpredictable byways of self-guided evolution. They modify other species (we ourselves already have GM crops) and ultimately the biosphere (we have begun this, too). There is no Biology versus Technology. There is Biotechnology.

So what makes species capable of contact ~ technology ~ and potentially similar enough to be comprehensible to one another ~ planetary biological evolution ~ sits in a brief window. In that brief window, two species at very similar levels of development, must be close enough in space and time for contact. The odds do not favor this.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.4 / 5 (9) May 14, 2013
the ability to plan ahead
Sure he was. He was as human-acting as any of the humans he interacted with.
The entire Star Trek universe (fun as it is to watch) is about the 'superiority' of human emotions over any kind of other approach towards the universe
No, 2 superior races mentioned here (Organians and trelanes parents) found contact with humans distasteful because of their crude behavior.
the ultimate specieist show
AA are you a closet human-hater? Humans were depicted as purveyors of egalitarianism and universal justice. They were invariably against slavery,
http://www.youtub...fiRccYIA

greed (ferengi), corruption (Bela Oxmyx), violence except when necessary (Thrall of Triskelion), misogeny (Mudd's Women), bigotry (khan), and... nazis
http://www.youtub...nl5qX6BE

Every episode was a moral lesson.

Are you saying it is right and proper for other species to practice these things?
antialias_physorg
3.3 / 5 (7) May 14, 2013
He was as human-acting as any of the humans he interacted with.

Exactly. But he wasn't human. He was able to see into (and travel into) future lines and alternate universes.
AA are you a closet human-hater?

No, why? I just think that we humans have AN approach to viewing the universe. Not THE approach to viewing the universe.

What I hate are narrow-minded black/white thinkers ("If you're not for us you're against us"). Basically people like you.

greed (ferengi), corruption (Bela Oxmyx), violence except when necessary (Thrall of Triskelion), misogeny (Mudd's Women), bigotry (khan), and... nazis

Like I said: narrow-minded one-dimensional depictions. Trivial and stupid.

Every episode was a moral lesson.

If you actually think those episodes teach lessons (lessons that any 5 year-old shouldn't be able to deduce by himself) then you don't have half a brain.

They're a (fun!) tele-novela. About as insightful as any soap opera.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.9 / 5 (9) May 14, 2013
Exactly. But he wasn't human. He was able to see into (and travel into) future lines and alternate universes
-So he wasnt stupid in comparison to humans, only super-humans and gods.
Basically people like you
I think I have a fairly well-developed sense of right and wrong. I do.
If you actually think those episodes teach lessons (lessons that any 5 year-old shouldn't be able to deduce by himself) then you don't have half a brain
One of my favorites was the one where riker was duplicated in a transporter accident. His double was stranded alone on a planet while the other one left on the ship, unaware.

The ship returned after 8 years and discovered the copy. The episode was a poignant account of chances missed, conflict between memory and reality, and how experience over time changes us in ways we might not be aware of.

Definitely a story well above grade school level.

I think it is you who tend to oversimplify in your judgement sometimes no?
antialias_physorg
3.3 / 5 (7) May 15, 2013
So he wasnt stupid in comparison to humans

If someone can foresee futures - how is he then ever surprised (or even bested) by stuff that humans do?
That's sub-human stupidity (or just plain lazy writing on the part of the authors)

I think I have a fairly well-developed sense of right and wrong.

Yes you do. What you entirely lack is the ability to understand that there are things in between - and that "totally right" or "totally wrong" very seldom apply to anything humans do.

and how experience over time changes us in ways we might not be aware of.

Nature vs. nurture. Completely trite and trivial content. Been done to death in countless books, movies and soap operas (it's so trivial you can even find it in the bible).

If you think that's 'philosophy' (or even novel) then you might want to start picking up books.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (8) May 15, 2013
If someone can foresee futures - how is he then ever surprised (or even bested) by stuff that humans do?
?? Are you really saying that humans are rational, reasonable creatures who are totally predictable?
If you think that's 'philosophy' (or even novel) then you might want to start picking up books
It touched my heart. What makes you think that such things have to be complex to have deep significance?

I once bought a shakespeare play which had been translated into regular english. You could actually understand what was going on. I recognized many of the jokes from sitcoms.

The star trek franchise used some of the very best authors available. Many of the stories are very mature and complex indeed.

It distresses me that you would judge the content of something on the basis of pointy ears and transporters. These guys seem to disagree:
http://www.amazon...12696492
antialias_physorg
2.4 / 5 (7) May 16, 2013
Are you really saying that humans are rational, reasonable creatures who are totally predictable?

If you can see into the future: yes they are predictable.
And in the show they are shown to be more rational than an (infinitely) advanced being - which I find implausible.

I once bought a shakespeare play which had been translated into regular english. You could actually understand what was going on. I recognized many of the jokes from sitcoms.

It took you a translated version?
Authors of plays, movies, etc. do have some knowledge of literature. I know mst of the allusions to that (even in current blockbusters) go over the heads of most people - but...damn. Get with the program.

Many of the stories are very mature and complex indeed.

Star trek is a geek show (and a fantastic one at that). It's about as 'deep' as the jedi religion.
The content is as formulaic as any other soap before and after.

I love star trek. But it's fluff.

TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (7) May 16, 2013
Well it's not Goethe but then, what is?
Newbeak
1 / 5 (1) May 16, 2013



I guess the Organians would be more to your taste: http://trekguide....os27.htm
I forgot about them. Trelanes parents were above these guys because they wouldnt have cared whether organics killed each other off or not.
Because they created a creature that was at once vastly advanced but also utterly stupid (i.e. the latter being on a par with humans, which again made it worthwhile to inteeract and hence 'fun' for a TV show).
Define 'stupid'.


What about the Metrons? They were probably destined to become Q types in a few million years: http://en.memory-...i/Metron
MaiioBihzon
2.2 / 5 (19) May 18, 2013
For any sense of drama, interplanetary protagonists have to be evenly matched. Usually, the aliens have technology that is sufficiently superior to humans to promise them victory – yet not infinitely superior, thus permitting nail-biting battle scenes and humanity's eventual triumph against (almost) insurmountable odds.

But the technological progress of life on Earth – as deduced from palaeontology, archaeology and modern history – indicates this cliché makes no sense.


Despite minor quibbling, the thesis of the author as expressed in the article stands: Generally, for story purposes, there is a preference for encounters with other civilizations whose technological levels are close enough to our own that there can be a fierce and tense conflict ~ a conflict which we humans are able to win, of course.

The author also uses the word "usually," making an allowance for Organians, Metrons and Q.

His conclusion also stands: We are not likely to meet our technological peers.
Moebius
1.8 / 5 (5) May 18, 2013


He isn't a technologic specie. More like a god. But Kirk ran into technologic gods in the original series.

The Continuum residents are god-like,but are the result of millions of years of scientific progress.Clarke's third law states: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". Wikipedia has a good article on the history of the Q,suggesting they have existed almost from the Big Bang: http://en.wikiped...ontinuum


A technological species uses instrumentalities like guns, spaceships and tricorders. The Q did not, their powers were infinite and inherent in their 'spirit'. They may have once been technologic but they aren't at the time of the federation. Apollo(?) in the original series was technological, they had an organ that controlled technology. The Q use nothing.
MaiioBihzon
2.4 / 5 (14) May 21, 2013
"Physical limits prohibit technology. Most of our technology isalready near the maximum theoretical efficiency, meaning there is little room for improvement.

Further, there are a finite number of unique tools or innovations which could be made, and the more you make the closer you get to that limit."

A technical civilization will approach technological and physical limits asymptotically. By analogy, in successive Olympic competitions new records continue to be set by athletes. Technology is synergistic; even incremental advances on all fronts will lift more developed civilizations to dizzying heights. Fast.

How civilizations apply their technical and scientific advances -- what they actually choose to do -- will have a lot to do with where they are on the slope of progress. Due to choices in how they alter themselves and their worlds, they will rapidly diverge upon attainment of bio- and nanotechnology. They will be far more different from each other than we can imagine.