Researcher says 'We are going to find life in space this century'

Mar 20, 2014
Researcher says 'We are going to find life in space this century'
Credit: Thinkstock

Are we alone in the universe? It's a question that has always fired the human imagination. The more we learn, the more unlikely it seems that Earth is a lone miracle inhabiting life amid galaxies of lifeless planets. Many eminent scientists are positive that it is just a matter of time before we find other life in the universe . But exactly how we'll encounter our inter-galactic neighbours, and whether they'll be just a few cells or full-blown ET lookalikes, they are less sure.

'We are going to find in space in this century,' Dr. Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer at the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI) said emphatically at last week's European Commission Innovation Convention. 'There are 150 billion galaxies other than our own, each with a few tens of billions of earth-like . If this is the only place in the universe where anything interesting happening then this is a miracle. And 500 years of astronomy has taught us that whenever you believe in a miracle, you're probably wrong.'

How will discover life in space? Dr Shostak sees it as a 'three-horse race' which will probably be won over the next 25 years. We will either find it nearby, in microbial form, on Mars or one of the moons of Jupiter; we will find evidence for gases produced by living processes (for example photosynthesis) in the atmospheres of planets around other stars; or Dr Shostak and his team at SETI will pick up signals from intelligent life via huge antennas.

Dr. Suzanne Aigrain, Lecturer in Astrophysics at Oxford University, who studies or exoplanets (planets around other stars than the sun), represents horse number two in the race. Speaking at the Convention, Dr Aigrain noted that, based on her studies, she would also bet that we are not alone. 'We are very close to being able to say with a good degree of certainty that planets like the Earth, what we call , are quite common [in the universe] ... That's why when asked if I believe there's life on other planets, I raise my hand and I do so as a scientist because the balance of probability is overwhelmingly high.'

Dr. Aigrain, and the groups that she works with, have so far been using light - electromagnetic radiation - as their primary tool to look for planets around stars other than the sun. Habitable planets are defined as those that are roughly the size of the earth where the surface temperature is suitable for liquid water to exist on the surface. The life 'biomarkers' that Dr. Aigrain and her colleagues look for are trace gases in the atmospheres of the exoplanets that they think can only be there if they are being produced by a biological source like photosynthesis.

Dr Shostak and SETI, meanwhile, seek evidence of life in the universe by looking for some signature of its technology. If his team does discover radio transmissions from space, Dr Shostak is quite certain that they will be coming from a civilisation more advanced than our own. 'Why do I insist that if we find ET, he/she/it will be more advanced than we are? The answer is that you're not going to hear the Neanderthals. The Neanderthal Klingons are not building radio transmitters that will allow you to get in touch.'

If we do find life on other planets or intercept a radio signal, what are the consequences? Finding a microbe that isn't an earthly microbe will tell us a lot about biology, but there will also be huge philosophical consequences. In Dr Shostak's words, 'It literally changes everything.'

Explore further: Kepler marks five years in space

More information: ec.europa.eu/research/innovati… /ic2014/index_en.cfm

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GSwift7
5 / 5 (10) Mar 20, 2014
I heard an interesting comment once, in regard to this topic. Up until now, SETI has really been blindly poking around in the dark, which makes the odds of them succeeding rather small. However, we are getting really close to being able to find earth-like planets. Once we start to accumulate a catalog of earth-like planets, SETI can start to really target the most likely candidates.

So, in a sense, the three horse race decribed above might be more like three horses in a team, all pulling the cart together. Each of the three methods lends insight to the other two, which will accelerate them all.

So, I tend to agree that we will find 'signs' of life soon, if there are any to find.

On a side note, even if we detect a broadcast signal, unless the source is very near, there's no way to know if the sender is still there or not. If they're 1000 LY away, the whole civilization could be dead and gone by the time we hear them.
GSwift7
4.9 / 5 (8) Mar 20, 2014
On the other hand, a lot of people thought we would have room temperature superconductors by now as well.

You know, with all the advances we've made in the past couple hundred years, you'd think our crystal balls would work better than they used to.
Bookbinder
1.6 / 5 (10) Mar 20, 2014
And yet.......on this most life friendly planet, life only arose one time. Why would we not here see thousands of life forms not all stemming from the first single celled organism?
Whydening Gyre
4.1 / 5 (7) Mar 20, 2014
And yet.......on this most life friendly planet, life only arose one time. Why would we not here see thousands of life forms not all stemming from the first single celled organism?
.
You limit yourself to a definition of life.
orti
1 / 5 (7) Mar 20, 2014
The search for life elsewhere is taking on a sense of a panic.
eric_in_chicago
4.4 / 5 (7) Mar 20, 2014
"The search for life elsewhere is taking on a sense of a panic."

With no condition or concern to find intelligent life, here on earth where we need it most...
pubwvj
4.8 / 5 (6) Mar 20, 2014
And yet.......on this most life friendly planet, life only arose one time. Why would we not here see thousands of life forms not all stemming from the first single celled organism?

There is considerable evidence that life arose, and was extinguished, multiple times. We are merely the current expression of life.
Whydening Gyre
3.6 / 5 (5) Mar 20, 2014
And yet.......on this most life friendly planet, life only arose one time. Why would we not here see thousands of life forms not all stemming from the first single celled organism?

There is considerable evidence that life arose, and was extinguished, multiple times. We are merely the current expression of life.

Pub, I think he meant that it is still all carbon based....
jsdarkdestruction
4.6 / 5 (8) Mar 21, 2014
And yet.......on this most life friendly planet, life only arose one time. Why would we not here see thousands of life forms not all stemming from the first single celled organism?

life is fine tuned to life on the earth, not the other way around. other life might not find earth so friendly. in fact the life that started out on earth was drastically different than what we have now.
who is to say in the beginning other forms of life were not around that were outcompeted and possibley couldn't adapt to changes in the environment?
jsdarkdestruction
4.3 / 5 (7) Mar 21, 2014
Also, there have been quite a few times where our planet has become extremely unfriendly to the life currently on it, so I wouldn't call it "most life friendly planet".
alfie_null
4.4 / 5 (7) Mar 21, 2014
Also, there have been quite a few times where our planet has become extremely unfriendly to the life currently on it, so I wouldn't call it "most life friendly planet".

Even in its worst moods, Earth has been more kindly disposed towards us than any of the other planets in our solar system.

Given the extremophiles we keep discovering, it wouldn't be surprising to find that even on marginal planets, all it takes is some period of benign conditions in the past, to provide the initial spark for life.
jsdarkdestruction
5 / 5 (6) Mar 21, 2014
Also, there have been quite a few times where our planet has become extremely unfriendly to the life currently on it, so I wouldn't call it "most life friendly planet".

Even in its worst moods, Earth has been more kindly disposed towards us than any of the other planets in our solar system.

Given the extremophiles we keep discovering, it wouldn't be surprising to find that even on marginal planets, all it takes is some period of benign conditions in the past, to provide the initial spark for life.

1. True, but that doesn't make my statement any less true. the earth has been far from ideal for life that existed at that time many times.
2. Absolutely, life that is much different than that on earth is also something fairly likely too imo.
Sinister1812
3.7 / 5 (6) Mar 21, 2014
I don't know if we'll find intelligent life out there. We found stupid life though!
http://www.dailym...res.html
GSwift7
4.6 / 5 (12) Mar 21, 2014
And yet.......on this most life friendly planet, life only arose one time


If a new single cell organism, with an entirely new chemistry, were to assemble itself in your nose right now, you would never know it. The pre-existing organisms would consume it before it had a chance. The life we see here today has adapted to kill intruders and just about any niche capable of supporting life is already full of deadly (microscopic) predators.

New organisms could spawn all the time, and you would never know it.
roblabs
3 / 5 (6) Mar 21, 2014
And yet.......on this most life friendly planet, life only arose one time. Why would we not here see thousands of life forms not all stemming from the first single celled organism?

There is considerable evidence that life arose, and was extinguished, multiple times. We are merely the current expression of life.


Could you provide some of this evidence? Links, examples, etc.
roblabs
3.4 / 5 (5) Mar 21, 2014
Even in its worst moods, Earth has been more kindly disposed towards us than any of the other planets in our solar system.


You're basing that on the current conditions. For instance, Mars most certainly had, at one point in its past, conditions conducive to life. And changes in the future will certainly bring about new dynamics on other planets and bodies. My point is that solar systems are in constant states of flux.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (4) Mar 21, 2014
Let's see what other cowpies Gswift has left for us to step in today. Here's one...
If a new single cell organism, with an entirely new chemistry, were to assemble itself in your nose right now, you would never know it. The pre-existing organisms would consume it before it had a chance. The life we see here today has adapted to kill intruders
What you're describing would probably be inedible by anything else growing in your nose, and unrecognizable to it as well. Immune cells typically engulf pathogens and digest them.

We are invaded by organisms with earth-derived chemistries frequently which can make us very sick. 90% of South American indigenes were wiped out by contagions their immune systems had no defense against.
New organisms could spawn all the time, and you would never know it.
If we were competing for the same food, or if we were digestible, or if this organism excreted a toxin, then we certainly WOULD know it. Your speculations are groundless.
GSwift7
4.3 / 5 (6) Mar 21, 2014
Let's see what other cowpies Gswift has left for us to step in today. Here's one


No, you're totally wrong, and a troll.

Basic life, having just formed, would be barely more than food for anything else around. Something would eat it. Our immune system has nothing to do with it, as that is highly specialized to attack known invaders. There are plenty of friendy organisms in our bodies that aren't part of our immune system. Heck, what's to stop those nasty 'pathogens' you mentioned from killing the newly spawned life? Something newly evolved woulddn't stand a chance, most likely. Though we're both talking completely hypothetically here. I think everyone here knows this is a hypothetical discussion, since that was the nature of the topic in the first place. I don't need proof to have a hypothetical conversation with like-mined people. Leave us alone, since you're obviously not on the same page. Go away. We're just having fun, and you're a jerk..
GSwift7
4.2 / 5 (6) Mar 21, 2014
What you're describing would probably be inedible by anything else growing in your nose


That's wrong. You're immune system wouldn't recognize it, but something would eat it like it would eat any other digestible molecules in its path. What, do you think single cell organisms only eat other things they recognize and are alive? Dude! there's stuff that eat rocks, you know? Hey, guess what, I eat dead stuff all the time. You're full of ____ as usual.

We are invaded by organisms with earth-derived chemistries frequently which can make us very sick


lolololol. You have countless microbes in you that don't make you sick, and you're going to tell me that you think those highly specialized and highly evolved killers are common? Wow, just wow.

Just give up and stop trolling me. I really don't care, so keep going if you like, but you're wasting your time. Everyone knows what you're donig, even the people who don't comment or rate you down.
GSwift7
4.2 / 5 (6) Mar 21, 2014
If we were competing for the same food, or if we were digestible, or if this organism excreted a toxin, then we certainly WOULD know it. Your speculations are groundless


Oh yeah? Prove it!

lol

I say that a new lifeform would be a trillion in one to survive more than one generation. Show me some evidence that a brand spanking new life form in your nose would be able to thrive, much less that you'd know how to detect it.

BTW, prove that one of the harmless microbes inside you isn't a new one. Are they all named and cataloged? Yeah, right, not hardly.

Oh, there's a new bacteria!!!! LOOK!!!! lolololol. You're a fool.
GSwift7
4.2 / 5 (5) Mar 21, 2014
your speculations are groundless


Not really, but that doesn't matter.

You're not doing a very good job of trolling me today. You usually do a much better job. Are you doing alright?
Sinister1812
5 / 5 (3) Mar 22, 2014
And yet.......on this most life friendly planet, life only arose one time. Why would we not here see thousands of life forms not all stemming from the first single celled organism?

There is considerable evidence that life arose, and was extinguished, multiple times. We are merely the current expression of life.


Could you provide some of this evidence? Links, examples, etc.


I think he meant the mass extinctions through history. But then again, they didn't wipe out all life.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.5 / 5 (4) Mar 22, 2014
Basic life, having just formed, would be barely more than food for anything else around. Something would eat it
"All food is made up of only three nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins."

Now it IS hard to tell as usual exactly what you meant by
an entirely new chemistry
-but I would have to assume you were talking about life which was non-carbon based or something or other. And perhaps you meant something not comprised of proteins, carbs, or fats which earth life by and large has evolved to consume.

"Just as they would not be recognized by the local pathogens as potential hosts, aliens would also not recognize Earth's organic matter as a potential food source. They couldn't digest us."
http://www.nbcnew...te-them/

-Nor we them.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (5) Mar 22, 2014
Our immune system has nothing to do with it, as that is highly specialized to attack known invaders
Not true.

"Both innate and adaptive immunity depend on the ability of the immune system to distinguish between self and non-self molecules. In immunology, self molecules are those components of an organism's body that can be distinguished from foreign substances by the immune system.[13] Conversely, non-self molecules are those recognized as foreign molecules."

-This is why the body often reject implants. And if the body has no way of eliminating these non-self materials they can lead to cell damage, cancer, and DEATH.

"Immune response to implants is commonly reported in the literature and can include hypersensitivity related to pacemakers, dental implants, and orthopedic hardware."

-You've demonstrated once again that your imagination is no match for actually looking things up.
SteveS
3 / 5 (5) Mar 22, 2014
Does anybody here think Prions may be a new and different form of life? I know that they are not considered to be living organisms by some, but they have shown the ability to evolve,

http://europepmc....Vedsj.12

There may be many examples of prion like and non-prion like life on Earth, or in our bodies for that matter, that we would not even recognize unless it directly affected our health.
Benni
2.3 / 5 (6) Mar 22, 2014

"......have so far been using light - electromagnetic radiation - as their primary tool to look for planets around stars....."

"Aigrain and her colleagues look for are trace gases in the atmospheres of the exoplanets that they think can only be there if they are being produced by a biological source like photosynthesis."

Above quoted from the article...........I think she is saying they hope to do spectroscopy analyses for free oxygen & methane. On planets even as close as the very nearest solar systems, this will be a tall order because we simply cannot perform spectroscopy on small Earth size planets with present day instrumentation. Maybe somebody knows of something being developed, but I've not heard of anything.

Returners
3 / 5 (2) Mar 23, 2014
"Just as they would not be recognized by the local pathogens as potential hosts, aliens would also not recognize Earth's organic matter as a potential food source. They couldn't digest us."
http://www.nbcnew...te-them/

-Nor we them.


That depends. Just because a molecule is not a "natural" biochemical molecule on Earth does not mean our bodies cannot digest it partially or completely. Obvious examples would be designer drugs, especially oral ones. Well, okay, some of them do get broken down in the body, not necessarily via digestion though, but the point is they are being used for a particular, beneficial function in the body.

Artificial sweeteners and artificial cooking oils actually are digested by the human body.
antialias_physorg
4.3 / 5 (8) Mar 23, 2014
Why would we not here see thousands of life forms not all stemming from the first single celled organism?

I'd find it hard to believe that any newly formed organism would be immeditely best suited for any niche - given that the current crop of life has had billions of years to adapt to the energy niches present here on earth. Isn't it more plausible that a new lifeform would be rather crude? When there are no competitors around then that may be sufficient, but if you're competing against others that have had billions of years of a head start? I don't think that bodes well for survival.
You need not to be perfect to be able to survive - you just need to be better than the others. But no caveman is going to build something from scratch that will outpace a race car. Not even if he tries it a billion times per day.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) Mar 23, 2014
Why would we not here see thousands of life forms not all stemming from the first single celled organism?

I'd find it hard to believe that any newly formed organism would be immeditely best suited for any niche - given that the current crop of life has had billions of years to adapt to the energy niches present here on earth. Isn't it more plausible that a new lifeform would be rather crude? When there are no competitors around then that may be sufficient, but if you're competing against others that have had billions of years of a head start? I don't think that bodes well for survival.
You need not to be perfect to be able to survive - you just need to be better than the others. But no caveman is going to build something from scratch that will outpace a race car. Not even if he tries it a billion times per day.

Amino acids were best suited when they arrived here. They adapted. And WE are it....
GSwift7
5 / 5 (4) Mar 23, 2014
You've demonstrated once again that your imagination is no match for actually looking things up


you've demonstrated that you can look stuff up and not understand it. Either that, or you're deliberately taking quotes out of context to try to argue, but I don't think so.

Osiris1
1.3 / 5 (3) Mar 24, 2014
Maybe 'ET' is using gravitational waves...or maybe yet sends small 'courier ships' with info packets using space distortion tech. Such would appear faster than light but the disturbances they move in would be too small to be detectable at sufficient distance. This idea is not new, as Frank Herbert had similar ideas in the books written by his descendants....the 'Dune' series. AS for the 'energy conversion of Jupiter mass idea that sometimes get used by so called 'debunkers' of the 'u saw venus' genre, such as those had similar arguments many years ago concerning faster than sound travel.
GSwift7
5 / 5 (4) Mar 24, 2014
Maybe 'ET' is using gravitational waves...or maybe yet sends small 'courier ships' with info packets using space distortion tech. Such would appear faster than light but the disturbances they move in would be too small to be detectable at sufficient distance


That's a bit of a stretch of the imagination, but if you really want to talk about hypotheticals, I suppose that's the whole point of the article. It's hard to say what hyper-advanced technology might look like. I wonder if ET's crystal balls work better than our own?

That being said, would ET's spaceships be so wasteful that they would make grav waves big enough for us to detect them?

I used to think this kind of discussion was purely for fun, but based on what we're finding in regard to exoplanets, there are questions that seem more relevant. For example, if we aren't alone, then where is everyone else? There's no real answer, but it does make you want to scratch your head.
antialias_physorg
2.8 / 5 (5) Mar 24, 2014
For example, if we aren't alone, then where is everyone else?

Where would you expect them to be? On planets (or in any other gravity well)? I think not. Makes no sense to stay on rocks once you can go into space.

Certainly if they do broadcast stuff they don't do so using "broad"casts (very wasteful and technologically inelegant. Even we primitive humans like to use directed transmissions). The universe could be full off directed communications and we wouldn't hear it. (And if they are even a smidgeon more advanced than us and still use EM they'll have amplifiers better than ours - which means that even if a stray transmission were to hit us we wouldn't notice)

And lastly: What's the appeal (or the advantage) in contacting primitives? None whatsoever.
GSwift7
5 / 5 (4) Mar 24, 2014
And lastly: What's the appeal (or the advantage) in contacting primitives? None whatsoever


Yeah, and landing on an inhabited planet would be bordering on stupid.

So, if we follow your (extremely good) line of reasoning, what should we expect to find with something like SETI? Even if we find a nearby habitable planet, should we expect to see any detectable signs of advanced life (assuming we advance our telescope technology significantly first).

It's odd to think about all this, since it was just a conspiracy theory sort of thing when we grew up, but it's becomming increasingly relevant. The real possibility of other intelligent life might be something we as a species start to take seriously in the not-so-distant future. I've noticed that accademics are already taking the idea a lot more seriously than ever before. I think that locating a nearby habitable world (or several?) would be a tipping point to start a different kind of discussion.
Modernmystic
2.6 / 5 (5) Mar 24, 2014
I'm glad this community (SETI et al) are becoming more tempered in their estimates and realistic about the probabilities. I for one highly doubt there is another technological civilization in this galaxy for a host of reasons I don't need to re-iterate here.

However, I DO think we're going to find the "bio signature" of simple life in the atmosphere of another planet well before a hundred years.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Mar 24, 2014
That's a bit of a stretch of the imagination
Well perhaps for YOU, but not for actual scientists.

"Other more exotic methods of communication have been proposed, such as modulated neutrino or gravitational wave emissions. These would have the advantage of being essentially immune to interference by intervening matter..."

-And if you google the subject you will find there are papers on it. By actual scientists g. Here's one here :
http://arxiv.org/...0022.pdf
That being said, would ET's spaceships be so wasteful that they would make grav waves big enough for us to detect them?
I guess you didn't bother to read up on the alcubierre drive thingie I posted.
you've demonstrated that you can look stuff up and not understand it. Either that, or you're deliberately taking quotes out of context to try to argue, but I don't think so
Again, saying so does not make this true. REFUTE what I POST or acknowledge your mistakes.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Mar 24, 2014
Makes no sense to stay on rocks once you can go into space.
?? Resources, gravity, radiation protection. If there are planets as easy to colonize and terraform as mars near incipient sentience, we can expect to find them colonized.

Humans may leave most all space activity to their machines until they are replaced altogether.
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Mar 24, 2014
why not just try and translate all that light we see coming from everywhere?
antialias_physorg
4.5 / 5 (2) Mar 25, 2014
So, if we follow your (extremely good) line of reasoning, what should we expect to find with something like SETI?

I wouldn't expect any result from SETI (the 'dish' kind looking fo signals), for the simple reason that if there is some sort of drive that can get an appreciable percentage of the speed of light then sending information pods (that can seek out their destination if it has moved in the meantime) is way better than using photons. They'd be much more robust against interference or could actively avoid it - and could get a much better data rate. (If a photon encounters a passing piece of rock then that's it for your message)

With directed communications you have to know where your target is years in advance (and frankly, there is nothing that you can send now that will be of immediate interest to anyone receiving it in a decade. So transmissions to spaceships may be totally pointless. In that cas only planet/planet transmissions would make any kind of sense)
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Mar 25, 2014
All of that goes out the window if there is indeed some sort of (moderately easily achieved) FTL drive. Because then sending light signals is obsolete.
And since it looks from the recent finding on gravity waves that inflation really did happen we at least know that getting an FTL separation between points is possible (though it does not constitute motion in the ordinary sense, but my gut feeling is that something like an Alcubierre drive could be doable. If nature is able to do it, so should someone else)

But note that the article is about 'finding life'. Not 'finding intelligent life'. Given that there are many creatures on thie planet who have outlasted (and will outlast) humans by quite a few orders of magnitude 'intelligence' may not be as much an advantage as one might think.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (1) Mar 25, 2014
All of that goes out the window if there is indeed some sort of (moderately easily achieved) FTL drive. Because then sending light signals is obsolete.
And since it looks from the recent finding on gravity waves that inflation really did happen we at least know that getting an FTL separation between points is possible (though it does not constitute motion in the ordinary sense, but my gut feeling is that something like an Alcubierre drive could be doable. If nature is able to do it, so should someone else)

But note that the article is about 'finding life'. Not 'finding intelligent life'. Given that there are many creatures on thie planet who have outlasted (and will outlast) humans by quite a few orders of magnitude 'intelligence' may not be as much an advantage as one might think.

I think of ants, AP. Individually not so effective, but as a team - whoooa.... They're awesome!
Modernmystic
2.5 / 5 (2) Mar 25, 2014
"Other more exotic methods of communication have been proposed, such as modulated neutrino or gravitational wave emissions. These would have the advantage of being essentially immune to interference by intervening matter..."


If you wanted to communicate with the cavemen you knew were in the next valley would you use a radio or smoke signals?

Given that there are many creatures on thie planet who have outlasted (and will outlast) humans by quite a few orders of magnitude 'intelligence' may not be as much an advantage as one might think.


This is like saying that because we've been using internal combustion engines for about a hundred years electric propulsion might not be as much as an advantage as one might think. That "reasoning" cuts both ways.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Mar 25, 2014
wouldn't expect any result from SETI (the 'dish' kind looking fo signals), for the simple reason that if there is some sort of drive that can get an appreciable percentage of the speed of light then sending information pods
Aa googled my quote and found:

"interstellar messenger probes for interstellar communication — known as Bracewell probes — was first suggested by Ronald N. Bracewell in 1960, and the technical feasibility of this approach was demonstrated by the British Interplanetary Society's starship study Project Daedalus in 1978. Starting in 1979, Robert Freitas advanced arguments for the proposition that physical space-probes provide a superior mode of interstellar communication to radio signals"

-Dishonest, pretentious, or merely lazy? At any rate not very useful. Not nearly as useful as the SOURCE. Please post something we can google next time ok? Copy/paste a standard browser feature you know.
GSwift7
4.2 / 5 (5) Mar 25, 2014
Otto,

REFUTE what I POST or acknowledge your mistakes


All that stuff you posted with the intent of trolling me is speculative. I'm well aware of the 'scientific papers' on advanced drives, time travel, etc. Would you like me to post links to 'scientific papers' on ESP and mind control?

There, you're refuted (or not?). Why don't you knock off this crap? This is all just fun speculation, and there's no right or wrong. Nothing I said is wrong, and nothing you said is wrong either. It's all just hypothetical. Geez, time travel? Maybe, but I don't think so. You can have your opinion, and I can have my opinion, and neither of us can prove the other wrong or ourselves right.

Nobody wants to read your wall-o-text vendettas, or my responses to them.
Modernmystic
2.5 / 5 (2) Mar 25, 2014
I think that Bracewell probes or Von Neumann machines are good evidence against the existence of any intelligent ETs in this galaxy at least. Rather the LACK of them is...
GSwift7
4.3 / 5 (6) Mar 25, 2014
Here's what you posted Otto:

Dishonest, pretentious, or merely lazy? At any rate not very useful. Not nearly as useful as the SOURCE


What you really want people to think:

Dishonest, pretentious, or merely lazy? At any rate not very useful. Not nearly as useful as ME


I've never seen someone so desperate to feel important, over the age of 13.

And, once again, you're upset because someone posted something that you wanted to post? So you post a more detailed version of the same thing, and then claim superiority? You seem like a very strange person.

If you just did the exact same thing you're doing, but go back and delete the negativity and insults before you hit the 'submit' button, you'd actually be contributing to the discussion in stead of being irritating.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Mar 25, 2014
I've never seen someone so desperate to feel important, over the age of 13.
Dude, you guys are so self-absorbed that you think your idle musings can actually substitute for easily-available FACTS. Who CARES what your opinions are when the FACTS are so readily available? Especially when they're dead wrong? I think it's mature and responsible to post sources rather than pretend to know things you don't, yes? This is what scientists do.

It's obvious where aa got his factoids and he should have been honest and posted the source.

You and aa are some of the worst offenders because the reserved tone of your posts suggest that you know what you are talking about. I will certainly continue to correct you whenever this sort of lazy irresponsibility occurs. 'Kay?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Mar 25, 2014
This is like saying that because we've been using internal combustion engines for about a hundred years electric propulsion might not be as much as an advantage as one might think. That "reasoning" cuts both ways.

It simply saying that WE currently think intelligence is the bees' knees and that evolution somehow heads for that. But looking at our own planet's history that does not seem the case. Take dinosaurs. 135 million years of being the top of the animal kingdom and not much intelligence in sight. Compared to that we still have quite a ways to go to prove that intelligence is a successful trait and not just a quick glitch before nature tries something else again.

But the dinosaur example tells me that (without upheaval) evolution can get stuck with a non-intelligent bunch indefinitely. So possibly the very stability needed for life to develop/persist may also be the biggest hindrance to the development intelligence out there.
Modernmystic
3 / 5 (2) Mar 25, 2014
It simply saying that WE currently think intelligence is the bees' knees and that evolution somehow heads for that.


Who's we? But yes I get your point and I actually agree...mostly :)

But looking at our own planet's history that does not seem the case. Take dinosaurs. 135 million years of being the top of the animal kingdom and not much intelligence in sight. Compared to that we still have quite a ways to go to prove that intelligence is a successful trait and not just a quick glitch before nature tries something else again.


"The dinosaurs" are not a single species so that's apples and oranges. A lot of people blithely make this mistake. No species as far as we know has ever been close to as successful as humanity in the history of this planet. Not even close.

So possibly the very stability needed for life to develop/persist may also be the biggest hindrance to the development intelligence out there.


Stability in nature is a human inserted myth. Thankfully...
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.7 / 5 (3) Mar 25, 2014
No species... has ever been close to as successful as humanity in the history of this planet. Not even close.
Success is relative. Dinos were more successful because they were around much longer. Sharks longer still.

Humans might be in the verge of self-extinction because of the 'success' you are referring to.
stability needed for life to develop/persist may also be the biggest hindrance
Advanced tool use requires the ability to work and carry hard materials with force. It requires binocular vision, limbs composed of levers, digits capable of supporting objects while working on them.

Once a species develops these abilities it is able to hunt the predators which have kept its numbers in check. It will then form tribes which facilitate successful conflict with neighbors, and it's cognitive functions will grow based on its ability to outthink the competition.

But it's ability to consume itself to extinction will grow in concert. Intelligence inevitably creates instability.
GSwift7
5 / 5 (2) Mar 25, 2014
Humans might be in the verge of self-extinction because of the 'success' you are referring to

But it's ability to consume itself to extinction will grow in concert. Intelligence inevitably creates instability


Is it possible to drop the hostility and discuss that, or should I not bother?

Some experts think that a nuclear war may not drive the entire species to extinction. It's a rather difficult and expensive question to test, so I hope that one remains disputed. lol

As for other, non-sudden methods of self-destruction, I don't think any slow killer (like climate change or resource consumption) could do it. Any slow killer is likely to self-regulate by killing off enough of us so that the problem isn't a problem any more. Something like worst-case-scenario climate change (I'm talking about serious alarmist horror stories) might kill off many, but some of us would survive (probably). That's VERY hypothetical though, so opinions will vary.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (3) Mar 25, 2014
?? Resources, gravity, radiation protection
@otto
I think you missed the point. IIRC -if we become space-faring we will likely adapt to zero-G or micro-gravity, and utilize mechanical/probes for harvesting resources... at least that is how I think AA_P meant it. That actually makes sense in the long run, as AA_P says, continuing to require a gravity well for future generations would be silly if we didnt need to or adapted to long term space living
Success is relative
I do agree with this (for the most part), as success depends on perspective: see roaches, ants, insects in general. quite successful (if judging by long lived and diverse, adaptable etc)
but then again... they have never built a rocket that left the atmosphere, so they are technologically unsuccessful
perspective is everything
Humans may leave most all space activity to their machines until they are replaced altogether
or vice versa
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (2) Mar 25, 2014
Some experts think that a nuclear war may not drive the entire species to extinction. It's a rather difficult and expensive question to test, so I hope that one remains disputed
Well there's AGW, mass extinction, biowarfare, et al. Humans have been ruining their environment for millennia. Nebuchadnezzar tried to remove the top few feet of soil in the Euphrates valley because irrigation had saltified it. He failed.

There is a wide swath of man made desertification from the gobi to the Sahara.
if we become space-faring we will likely adapt to zero-G or micro-gravity, and utilize mechanical/probes for harvesting resources
It will still take far les effort to inhabit the surface of earth- like planets than to live in space. Even underground on planets and inside asteroids is easier than totally artificial habitats in orbit. Material for their construction will come from these bodies anyway - why not use it where it is?
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Mar 25, 2014
If you wanted to communicate with the cavemen you knew were in the next valley would you use a radio or smoke signals?
@modernmystic
reminds me of the article Asimov wrote about contacting aliens... he also said "Even if we pick up there signal it si not at all likely that we will be able to interpret it"
there is an article here (sorry about the site=-its crap but the Asimov writing is good)
http://www.examin...izations

kinda ties into our speculations of life, intelligent life, and such... makes me pause and consider how we would communicate. Dr. Tyson also speculates about it... what if everything we know is what they learn in kindergarten?
http://www.wimp.com/onaliens/

something to think about...
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Mar 25, 2014
It will still take far les effort to inhabit the surface of earth- like planets than to live in space. Even underground on planets and inside asteroids is easier than totally artificial habitats in orbit. Material for their construction will come from these bodies anyway - why not use it where it is?
@otto
actually, that is part of my point... the ease of use.
IF we are still evolved to the point like we are NOW, which is that we require a gravity well to survive as our bodies are not adapted to long term exposure to micro-gravity/zero gravity, then the mechanical robots/probes will be our space arms, legs etc, like you are saying...
BUT if we evolve in a micro gravity or zero gravity (perhaps we become space-faring and decide to colonize the nearest habitable planet, but evolve on the way over a long period of time with current engines/technology etc) then it would be reversed: we would need the mechanical probes/robots to be our eyes/ears/ etc down the gravity wells
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 25, 2014
BUT if we evolve in a micro gravity or zero gravity
We are done evolving. We are in fact domesticated. Any further adapting we will do will be the result of design and engineering and will be accomplished technologically. And the more techno we become the less human we will be.

But in the meantime we will be spreading ourselves to mars and elsewhere to avoid extinction. And anything that needs to be done in space can be accomplished with machines expressly designed for the purpose. These machines will become increasingly intelligent and autonomous and at some point will be designing and reproducing themselves, while we will be content remaining in our independent colonies safe from the dangers of hard vacuum and ionizing radiation.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Mar 25, 2014
That actually makes sense in the long run, as AA_P says, continuing to require a gravity well for future generations would be silly if we didnt need to or adapted to long term space living

Yes, Our physiology is completely adapted to Earth life. Anywhere else it is more of a liability than an asset. So
1) Either we make places earthlike (which doesn't work with planets at all, unless we go totally off the rails and posit planet-wide gravity changing machines, globally encompassing radiation shields, heavenly spectrum adjustment tech, etc.. Which I don't see in the cards for us for quite some time. If not we might as well live in space stations. Planetside would hold no advantage whatsoever.

2) Or we change ourselves - which, considering the above, seems MUCH more realistic mid- to long-term. And if we master that to a fair degree then terraforming (or planetary living) etc. will just not be needed.
Captain Stumpy
4.7 / 5 (3) Mar 25, 2014
the more techno we become the less human we will be
@Otto
an interesting take and possible...although I wouldn't say we are done evolving

It would solve a great many problems that now plague humanity (especially some of the frailty issues)
but it will also require a great many sacrifices of things humans consider necessary: like our free will
(you seem to be a believer that eventually we will be under the management/co-existence of mechanical devices anyway, which is still possible)

it is also entirely possible that humanity will fracture into more than one group: mechanically enhanced humans, biologically modified humans, evolved separate species (space or otherwise), and non-human mechanical adaptable self-replicating constructs (the last being nano or macro, and most likely if those exist, our time might be limited as a direct threat to their existence)
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Mar 25, 2014
like our free will

Why? Free just means 'not precalculable'. As long as you include some sort of true random element into your 'adapted brain' your will is still free.

Whether you have an adapted brain made of mostly carbon and gooey stuff or one made of mostly metal and hard stuff shouldn't make a difference in whether it has free or not.
(Your brain can't think anything it wants to. You are subject to the chemical and electrical processes therein and they can't be bargained with to give you THAT kind of free will which most people think they have. That kind requires an outside puppeteer (soul, gods, whatever)...and whether being controlled by such a puppeteer is any more 'free' is questionable)

it is also entirely possible that humanity will fracture into more than one group

Sure. At the very least those who stay and those who go. Should be interesting.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Mar 25, 2014
2) Or we change ourselves - which, considering the above, seems MUCH more realistic mid- to long-term. And if we master that to a fair degree then terraforming (or planetary living) etc. will just not be needed
@antialias
It will also likely take far less energy and resources to adapt ourselves to the environment than adapt our environment to our gravity dependent current selves.

I think this is where Otto's comments come in, really
Whether you have an adapted brain made of mostly carbon and gooey stuff or one made of mostly metal and hard stuff shouldn't make a difference in whether it has free or not
I agree... just saying. This will be a fracture point as well... those who are biologically prejudiced, and most likely religions will head this charge against the "rise of the machines"
Should be interesting
I agree... I dont hold out hope of living to see it, but it should get interesting indeed
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Mar 25, 2014
@Antialias
@Otto
http://medicalxpr...ind.html

pure speculation mind you...but here is a possible starter to transferring a mind/self into a mechanical image which can be manipulated by a machine... kind of a precursor to the possible mind reading technology, as well as a possibility to transfer "self awareness" or maybe even AI in the future?
who knows how far this particular technology will go... it depends a lot on how it is developed, how accurate it is and so many other factors... maybe humans will become fearful of machines in the future if it is too easy to read minds? (as if we dont already have problems with paranoia LOL)

looking at how people react to GMO's and other things (cloning, fetal stem cells) I can see people reacting with abject horror and fear over this technology... but SOME will push for it out of a desire for immortality
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.7 / 5 (3) Mar 25, 2014
an interesting take and possible...although I wouldn't say we are done evolving
According to this
http://phys.org/n...749.html

-evolution by natural selection can take place in 30 gens. There are very few natural elements which we haven't mitigated through technology. Medicine sustains individuals to reproductive age who would have previously been selected out, and we preempt adaptation through contraception and abortion.

We preserve other species which would have died out. Invasive species are interrupting ecosystems in extremely rapid and unpredictable ways.

But we are increasingly altering ourselves through design and engineering, and I don't think this can be considered evolution. And within the span of traditional evolutionary change we will probably be superseded by machine life.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (3) Mar 25, 2014
1) Either we make places earthlike (which doesn't work with planets at all, unless we go totally off the rails and posit planet-wide gravity changing machines, globally encompassing radiation shields, heavenly spectrum adjustment tech, etc.. Which I don't see in the cards for us for quite some time. If not we might as well live in space stations. Planetside would hold no advantage whatsoever
"the Moon does have some gravity, which experience to date indicates may be vital for fetal development and long-term human health. Whether the Moon's gravity (roughly one sixth of Earth's) is adequate for this purpose, however, is uncertain."

-IOW we don't know yet whether lower gravity will be a problem.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (3) Mar 25, 2014
An indefinitely sustainable and completely independent colony is the only way to ensure survival of the species in the event that humans elsewhere are extincted.

"If the colony is to survive inbreeding for up to 100 years, you'll need a minimum of 500 randomly chosen colonists or 50 hand-picked colonists all who are unrelated and of breeding age. If the colony is to have enough genetic diversity to survive for thousands of years, you'll need a minimum of 5000 randomly chosen colonists or 500 hand-picked colonists all who are unrelated and of breeding age."

-Not a great source but he does do calcs based on accepted theory. It is hard to imagine an artificial satellite colony of suitable size which could provide the same sort of dependability which would be easier to build than something below the surface of a planet or moon, or inside an asteroid. Again, all that material would have to be mined, processed, and sent into orbit for assembly, leaving behind large habitable caves.
antialias_physorg
4.5 / 5 (2) Mar 26, 2014
I can see people reacting with abject horror and fear over this technology... but SOME will push for it out of a desire for immortality

Strength in diversity. It's always prudent to have several paths going at once. It's possible that the 'mechanical' strain will back itself into some corner (due to some unforeseen systemic shortcoming)....or that the biological one will (e.g. due to some pandemic disease).
So I don't see this fracturing as a problem, either...but more of as an advantage (for the species...or then: multiple thereof).
GSwift7
5 / 5 (3) Mar 26, 2014
Well there's AGW, mass extinction, biowarfare, et al...There is a wide swath of man made desertification from the gobi to the Sahara


Assuming that's true (which is debatable, but we can ignore that for now), that still doesn't logically lead to humans becomming extinct. There would be pockets of survivors in just about any man-made situation. In the case of something slow like global warming or disease, there would be wealthy countries that survive with little effect (in the long run), while poor countries that lack food security or medical care would suffer the brunt of it.

If you look at the Influenza pandemic, it's a good example of what happens. The city of Philidelphia suffered shocking death rates initiallly, but it spikes and then tapers off as people adapt and quarantine themselves. Such things might not reach some rural communities at all, as we saw with influenza.
GSwift7
4.5 / 5 (2) Mar 26, 2014
you'll need a minimum of 500 randomly chosen colonists or 50 hand-picked colonists


We might be really close to overcoming that limitation with current technology. Maybe it's possible to take just a few people, along with a freezer full of millions of genetic samples from other people, or even to modify your own genes to create artificial diversity. I don't think we will be limited by genetic diversity constraints by the time we are ready to try to establish a colony of that nature.

As for natural evolution, I agree that humans are basically done with that. If we manage to figure out how to correct/prevent genetic errors, then we can effectively prevent evolution. Artificial evolution will be much more powerful than natural evolution though. Rather than random trial and error, we will make focused changes. Humans will be the first species on earth to choose our own path of evolution. We'll probably screw it up, lol.
antialias_physorg
4.5 / 5 (2) Mar 26, 2014
that still doesn't logically lead to humans becomming extinct.

A GBR in our cosmic neighborhood would do us in, though.

If we manage to figure out how to correct/prevent genetic errors, then we can effectively prevent evolution.

It's more or less done with in any case for humans. Evolution is mutation and selection. Muation is still going, but since we artificially prevent the overwhelming part of selection (by eliminating the environment as selection factor. By medical means - getting people to breeding age which would otherwise have not survived. And just by giving people the ability to donate to sperm banks which would have been selected against because of other traits)
That just leaves susceptibilities to the most radical deadly illnesses in early age and visual fashion trends as driving forces for evolution.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (4) Mar 26, 2014
We are done evolving. We are in fact domesticated. Any further adapting we will do will be the result of design and engineering and will be accomplished technologically. And the more techno we become the less human we will be.
Really. And you can, of course, provide a link to support this statement?
Maggnus
5 / 5 (4) Mar 26, 2014
As for natural evolution, I agree that humans are basically done with that. If we manage to figure out how to correct/prevent genetic errors, then we can effectively prevent evolution. Artificial evolution will be much more powerful than natural evolution though.
This is the second comment like this in this thread. There is every reason to suspect that human evolution is both ongoing and natural. There are many examples: http://www.jstor....41667617
http://www.jstor....41667617
http://www.newsci...ion.html

Even if there was a stop in evolution, all it takes to get started again is an isolated population. Sending a craft full of people to a different system where interaction between the two groups ends provides all of the conditions needed for evolution to proceed.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.5 / 5 (2) Mar 26, 2014
Even if there was a stop in evolution, all it takes to get started again is an isolated population
-which of course is impossible. But that isolated pop would be living in huts, wearing clothes, building fires, using tools, and worshipping some god. And eventually, when the tribe calves , they would have neighbors to fight.

All these elements mitigate natural attrition which is essential to your evolution.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (4) Mar 26, 2014
But that isolated pop would be living in huts, wearing clothes, building fires, using tools, and worshipping some god. And eventually, when the tribe calves , they would have neighbors to fight

not necessarily.. I think what Maggnus means is:
if we are spacefaring then isolated populations would be any that are in transit (isolated from home planet as well as other interacting ships)
any separated in ships that are not in active communication as well as sharing DNA/people between them would be isolated from other humans and evolve differently than, say, those contained in a gravity well, on another planet with less G, or exposed to another set of hazards that other ships are not exposed to

IF we have ships travelling together then your religion/competition issues will definitely crop up, as well as on board a ship too (if large enough and resources are diminished for whatever reason)
being cooped up may/may not help during the transit flight

still reading the rest above

Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (4) Mar 26, 2014
evolution by natural selection can take place in 30 gens
@Otto
can doesn't mean "will" or "does"... there are a lot of stressors that "can" influence our evolution as well
being cooped up in transit may shorten or lengthen that selection process depending on circumstances
just like external stressors like gravity/lack of gravity will alter how we evolve
altering ourselves ...I don't think this can be considered evolution
why not? it is the same thing, just self administered or self enhanced
it just doesn't follow a natural/non-man-made or influenced path. its still evolution, really
I guess that is a perspective thing, though
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Mar 26, 2014
It's possible that the 'mechanical' strain will back itself into some corner (due to some unforeseen systemic shortcoming)....or that the biological one will
@AA_P
absolutely... or perhaps an incompatibility with the biological side in hybrids?
a hybrid seems to be the best bet for the short to medium run IMHO, but the better machines get, and the more able they become, the less viable the biological side becomes and the more of a threat between the two competing sides. but that is just me thinking out loud... unless we can come to a workable solution for both, there will be competition for resources etc
Humans will be the first species on earth to choose our own path of evolution. We'll probably screw it up
@GSwift
this is probably the absolute truth, especially given that too many are focused on superficial fashionable trends
Maggnus
5 / 5 (3) Mar 26, 2014
-which of course is impossible.
An unsubstantiated statement of fact? But didn't you just chide Gswift7 for doing that? Can you say "hypocrite"? (FWIW I agree withGS7, mostly)
But that isolated pop would be living in huts, wearing clothes, building fires, using tools, and worshipping some god.
Why? Are you suggesting you know of some mechanism that would lead to this?
And eventually, when the tribe calves , they would have neighbors to fight.
Or friends to visit.

All these elements mitigate natural attrition which is essential to your evolution.
Another unsubstantiated statement of fact? On a roll today.

So when are you going to supply the link supporting your last unsubstantiated statement that human evolution has already stopped?
Maggnus
5 / 5 (4) Mar 26, 2014
think what Maggnus means is:
if we are spacefaring then isolated populations would be any that are in transit (isolated from home planet as well as other interacting ships
Not exactly, although I hadn't considered those in transit. As matters stand today, ANY group sent to another system (as in outside of Sol's) would be physically isolated. Assuming they survive, there may continue to be an exchange of ideas (communication) but no possible way for there to be an exchange of genes. As such, evolution being what it is, there would most likely be changes and over 30 generations or so (sic) those changes could become profound.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.3 / 5 (3) Mar 26, 2014
As matters stand today, ANY group sent to another system (as in outside of Sol's) would be physically isolated.
This isn't what you said. You said
This is the second comment like this in this thread. There is every reason to suspect that human evolution is both ongoing and natural
-which is a different thing. On this planet evolution by natural selection for humans is over. Husbandry (directed evolution) has been the norm for millennia. And soon design and engineering will take over.

We do not have 30 gens left to develop anything naturally, anywhere. I challenge you to suggest something which would falsify this observation.

BTW re Gswift, he posts something which is wrong, I do a little research and prove it, and THEN I suggest he do the same next time. See how that works?

Have at it.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (4) Mar 26, 2014
I also said: "Even if there was a stop in evolution, all it takes to get started again is an isolated population. " Cherry picking again are we?

We do not have 30 gens left to develop anything naturally, anywhere. I challenge you to suggest something which would falsify this observation.
Perhaps you should have tried reading what was already linked to. The fact you do not wish it to be so does not make it such.

BTW re Gswift, he posts something which is wrong, I do a little research and prove it, and THEN I suggest he do the same next time. See how that works?
Do you understand the word hypocrite?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Mar 26, 2014
Isn't that cute? Maggie wants a slap fight.

I'm sorry I don't have access to the 60yo refs you posted. Could you provide relevant excerpts please? I often do this. Re the 3rd ref:

"The human brain may still be evolving, new research suggests. New variants of two genes that control brain development have swept through much of the human population during the last several thousand years, biologists have found.

The evolution of a large, complex brain has been the defining feature of the human lineage - although human brain size has not changed over the past 200,000 years. But it is not apparent whether the new genetic adaptations discovered in human brains have any effect on brain size, or intelligence."

-"the last several thousand years." Were these changes due to wholly natural factors or were they the result of artificial, cultural selection.

When people refer to evolution they are usually thinking natural selection. Culture and tech are the product of the human brain.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (2) Mar 26, 2014
Genghis khan was able to spread his seed across the Asian continent due to culture and technology. One in 200 males worldwide can claim descent as a result. This was the result of one man who mastered the culture and tech of the time.

Similar such events have occurred throughout human history. Tribes clever enough to develop a new strategy or weapon or cultural meme could use it to conquer whole regions, eliminate the males, and impregnate all the women. The results were explosive growth of our intellects with a corresponding increase in brain size.

Humans long ago began arranging marriages based on social status and military prowess. Tribal warfare was endemic, and only those who survived could mate. Domesticated animals and crops drastically changed available nutrition; people became smaller and more sickly. And living in proximity to domesticated animals gave rise to whole new classes of diseases.

NONE of this is 'natural selection'. And I wouldn't call our adaptations evolution.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (4) Mar 26, 2014
Isn't that cute? Maggie wants a slap fight.
Touche!
Could you provide relevant excerpts please
Old doesn't equal wrong. As asked:

"Migration and isolation play a significant role in ongoing human evolution. Both affect gene frequencies in various ways. Migration brings to a geographical area genotypes evolved elsewhere" "Isolation, on the other hand, tend to lead to diversification in groups"

More on the subject: http://www.mnn.co...ssess-in
http://www.wired....olution/

The problem with posting excerpts has to do with the possibility of biased quoting and quote mining. Posting a link to the actual article or paper allows for it to be read in its entirety and in context. Misunderstandings of the material can then also be illuminated and discussed.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (4) Mar 26, 2014
Genghis khan was able to spread his seed across the Asian continent due to culture and technology. One in 200 males worldwide can claim descent as a result. This was the result of one man who mastered the culture and tech of the time.
Is this not still evolution? And in fact, are not all of your examples also examples of evolution? The ability to recognize and employ a new technology is most certainly evolutionary, and ultimately leads to the survival of those most fit to benefit from its application. How can you say that is not natural?

We are definitely moving towards Gs7's suggestion of self-directed evolution, but we are not there yet and evidence exists to suggest we are not as far from "natural" as you seem to be suggesting. Your opinions on the subject are interesting, but they are only that: opinions.

Are we slap fighting now?
GSwift7
5 / 5 (3) Mar 26, 2014
antialias:

A GBR in our cosmic neighborhood would do us in, though


he was talking about human caused extinction, and I was saying that we are unlikely to be able to cause our own total extinction. Natural extinction OTOH is very dangerous to us and comes in a variety of flavors, only one is needed.

maggnus:

This is the second comment like this in this thread. There is every reason to suspect that human evolution is both ongoing and natural. There are many examples


Great points!!! I appologize and withdraw my previous comment. We aren't done evolving, and now that you bring it up, our social interactions might change the way we evolve and actually speed it up. We self-select unconciously on things we couldn't select on without communication and social interactions. I mean really, would any woman breed with a guy that sits on an internet forum and argues about this stuff???? lolol. just kidding. my woman loves her geek.
GSwift7
5 / 5 (2) Mar 26, 2014
continued:

I stand by my thought though, that focused intentional genetic manipulation has the potential to overwhelm any sort of natural evolution, simply by nature of speed.
GSwift7
5 / 5 (2) Mar 26, 2014
altering ourselves ...I don't think this can be considered evolution
why not? it is the same thing


There was an "outer limits" episode on this. I know, sci-fi, groan and sigh. But it was pertinent.

In the episode, there was a have and have-not dichotomy. People without the "best" enhancements were left wanting and unsuccessful in life, unable to compete. Parents were beholden to get their kids the "best" enhancements or watch the suffering.

Imagine working in an office full of super-genius 15 year old kids that are all smarter than you? Your boss is 12 and likely to be replaced in a few years (when she retires at age 19) by an exceptional 10 year old. Yeah, that's going to push a bit of evolution down our throats, REALLY fast.
GSwift7
5 / 5 (2) Mar 26, 2014
Your opinions on the subject are interesting, but they are only that: opinions


everyone please keep that in mind when reading my last few posts.
Maggnus
5 / 5 (3) Mar 26, 2014
I mean really, would any woman breed with a guy that sits on an internet forum and argues about this stuff???? lolol. just kidding. my woman loves her geek.
Lol I didn't say we were necessarily evolving higher intelligence!! My woman loves her geek too!!
I stand by my thought though, that focused intentional genetic manipulation has the potential to overwhelm any sort of natural evolution, simply by nature of speed.
I agree, I think I even said that somewhere above. We are definitely moving towards self-directed evolution. For good or ill? The jury is out!

Your opinions on the subject are interesting, but they are only that: opinions


everyone please keep that in mind when reading my last few posts.
Moi aussi (me as well).
GSwift7
5 / 5 (2) Mar 26, 2014
Lol I didn't say we were necessarily evolving higher intelligence!! My woman loves her geek too!!


I read the last few comments back to my woman. This was her response to me:

It's a good thing you're done breeding


haha.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Mar 27, 2014
The problem with posting excerpts has to do with the possibility of biased quoting and quote mining
No it has to do with your fixation with idiot terms like 'quote mining' and strawman and obfuscation. Excerpts both support your point of view and lead back to the source. It is a common practice. Scholarly works are FULL of them.
Is this not still evolution? And in fact, are not all of your examples also examples of evolution? The ability to recognize and employ a new technology is most certainly evolutionary
It is certainly not evolution by natural selection, which as I say most people consider evolution to be. When I have a little more time I will dig up supporting opinions for this.

I don't think directed development or 'intelligent design' (engineering) can be considered evolution. Theres often no desire to make something 'fitter', or that the practice can produce new species.

Husbanded animals often lose their enhancements when in a feral state.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (3) Mar 27, 2014
On this planet evolution by natural selection for humans is over. Husbandry (directed evolution) has been the norm for millennia. And soon design and engineering will take over.
We do not have 30 gens left to develop anything naturally, anywhere
@Otto
just a thought, but IMHO there have always been the fringe of society that fears (or is not interested in) mainstream advances, from the Amish to the tree-hugging movements that spawned communes (some still in existence, some newly generated, etc)
therefore there will always be a sort of "control populace" for natural evolution given these types of "social outliers"
I am not saying this is irrefutable evidence against your argument, just saying that there is most likely always going to be someone that does not want to play ball like everyone else, and that is not likely to change unless: forced upon the world populace OR extinction
it seems to be inherent in the human psych
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (3) Mar 27, 2014
And I wouldn't call our adaptations evolution
@Otto
I am really curious about this comment: Why not?
are you considering the fact that humans are directing it the reason that it is not evolution?

Even if we are chosing a path of evolution, or if we are chosing to combine mechanical as well as biological processes to enhance ourselves, or chosing traits, it is still evolution, and might even be called symbiotic in our relationships with mechanical devices. Even today we have a symbiotic relationship with technology
This is IMHO just like the development of poison/venom in other species, or the adaptation of another species for evolution like the termite. The difference is that we will choose our symbiotic partner and probably enhance certain of our own aspects with increased speed and variability. This is just one perspective, mind you
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Mar 27, 2014
although I hadn't considered those in transit
@Maggnus
I thought thats what you were talking about. All it really takes is an isolated population (willing or unwilling) and evolution can occur
we are unlikely to be able to cause our own total extinction
@GSwift
I am not so sure about this one, really. IMHO the probability of something like a global catastrophic man-made (or altered) disease is still a possibility, as well as technological destructive advances. No one wants to think that everyone will die, but it is still probable (albeit a very small probability)
...that's going to push a bit of evolution down our throats, REALLY fast
I think I see where you are coming from. You are saying that because it is man influenced, it is not evolution (much like Otto). Whereas I am seeing it that it is a symbiotic relationship with technology, or even with modified biological developments. I figure evolution is not constrained to just natural forces (just opinion, mind you)
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Mar 27, 2014
evolution by natural selection, which as I say most people consider evolution
most people if asked will (likely) think like this, yes, but evolution also includes adaptations as well as other things like genetic drift, biased mutation, genetic hitchhiking etc.
I don't think directed development or 'intelligent design' (engineering) can be considered evolution
why not? curious about the justification behind this, really.
Isn't the human interference with the dog (and other domesticated animals) directed development?
it is IMHO that evolution cannot be constrained to just natural forces at work. I believe that evolution can also be affected by forced processes or co-evolution with technology (in a symbiotic relationship) and that it is every bit a part of evolution just as is natural selection, just sped up via directed interference, rather than natural interference/processes
I guess the difference would be who/what is forcing the speed-up?
just interesting to me, regardless
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Mar 28, 2014
adaptations as well as other things like genetic drift, biased mutation, genetic hitchhiking etc
These mechanisms are part of the process but they are not the process itself. The process must include selection which favors some variants to reproduce.

In prehistory humans extincted megafauna wherever they went. Fires set for the purpose of driving whole herds over cliffs are not 'natural'. Humans didn't have to increase their size or grow saber teeth, adaptations which are the norm in the course of natural selection. Therefore these extinctions took centuries instead of millennia.

In the 1800s the railroads mandated the removal of bison from the plains. Firearms made this possible in a decade. They also enabled the extinction of the carrier pigeon.

Today species in Africa and South America are being extincted with clear cutting and AKMs. These animals do not have time to evolve biological countermeasures.