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Heroes Community > Other Games Exist Too > Thread: Probability of Alien Civilizations?
Thread: Probability of Alien Civilizations? This thread is 4 pages long: 1 2 3 4 · «PREV / NEXT»
JollyJoker
JollyJoker


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posted December 29, 2020 07:11 PM

artu said:
I mean the chances of intelligence evolving and the chances of civilization evolving are not the same thing, one is drastically smaller. Intelligence doesnt automatically result in civilization, in fact, it almost never does. So, just because humans, a civilized species evolved once in billions of years, doesnt mean it will most probably happen again in every few billion years.

First of all, we are talking about civilization-capable intelligence anyway, that is, about species beyond a certain level of intelligence who are also capable of civilization building.
Second, I don't think the required inteligence level is a SINGLE dependence - it needs more, because a species must have ways to make use of HIGHER intelligence.
In other words, evolutionary spoken, as with a muscle to get bigger, brain capacity must be used in a way that makes MORE capacity useful. If your level of intelligence is enough to survive and not "trained", the species won't evolve into being the same but develop a bigger brain.

Imo, what is needed is LAND (or amphibic) creature, and manual dexterity, that is, multi-purpose limbs (at least one, but probably two.

However, there hasn't been much time in the evolution from our genetical forefathers to homini and further - we are talking about MILLION years here, not billions.

We also are not allknowing, when it comes to evolution.

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tSar-Ivor
tSar-Ivor


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posted December 30, 2020 07:39 PM
Edited by tSar-Ivor at 20:03, 30 Dec 2020.

artu said:
I mean the chances of intelligence evolving and the chances of civilization evolving are not the same thing, one is drastically smaller. Intelligence doesnt automatically result in civilization, in fact, it almost never does. So, just because humans, a civilized species evolved once in billions of years, doesnt mean it will most probably happen again in every few billion years.



Artu makes a fair point, sometime ago I read an academic journal that in so-many words stated that we still haven't figured out what makes humans 'unique'. Certainly not biological and we are not inherently special. Probably more to do with small evolution - we innovate and adapt to it (ergo we're constantly evolving just like every other organism, difference is we get an artificial boost thanks to our inventive/innovative nature that the first humans developed - albeit rudimentary in their day).

Imho this pobably started in the first of our race making inventive use of natural fires for cooking, light etc. Then learned to make their own and slowly embedded this innovative quality into the early humans.


Also there is no 'civilisation building level of intelligence', it's minor proccesses that coalesce into something big if you look at it from a birds eye view. Civilisations are not the product of grand design, but small interactions in concentrated environment.

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phe
phe


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Life and Freedom
posted December 30, 2020 08:13 PM

Space Odyssey
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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


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posted December 30, 2020 09:26 PM

tSar-Ivor said:
artu said:
I mean the chances of intelligence evolving and the chances of civilization evolving are not the same thing, one is drastically smaller. Intelligence doesnt automatically result in civilization, in fact, it almost never does. So, just because humans, a civilized species evolved once in billions of years, doesnt mean it will most probably happen again in every few billion years.



Artu makes a fair point, sometime ago I read an academic journal that in so-many words stated that we still haven't figured out what makes humans 'unique'. Certainly not biological and we are not inherently special. Probably more to do with small evolution - we innovate and adapt to it (ergo we're constantly evolving just like every other organism, difference is we get an artificial boost thanks to our inventive/innovative nature that the first humans developed - albeit rudimentary in their day).

Imho this pobably started in the first of our race making inventive use of natural fires for cooking, light etc. Then learned to make their own and slowly embedded this innovative quality into the early humans.


Also there is no 'civilisation building level of intelligence', it's minor proccesses that coalesce into something big if you look at it from a birds eye view. Civilisations are not the product of grand design, but small interactions in concentrated environment.

You miss the point.
A there must be a physical way for a species for intelligence to be of use. Take dolphins. What can dolphins do to change their situation (as a herd)? They are basically nomads - and they can do nothing to change that, because they have no possibility.

So a species must have ways to use whatever intelligence is there to improve their life conditions (and their survival chance), otherwise intelligence isn't evolutionarily beneficial.

Which means, intelligence will more or less improve as a matter of course, once there is a species that can actually make use of it - by mutation (and then the mutation will prove its validness by increased survivability).

"Civilization" is simply a name for a process that increases survivability of the individual and thereby the species. It's the result of a combination of intelligence and the fact that humans are "social" beings.

An intelligent "state-building" insect race would probably qualify for "civilization" as well, but that would be the expression of their queen, and their queen only.

There is nothing "special" about humans.

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PandaTar
PandaTar


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posted December 30, 2020 10:13 PM

JollyJoker said:

A there must be a physical way for a species for intelligence to be of use. Take dolphins. What can dolphins do to change their situation (as a herd)? They are basically nomads - and they can do nothing to change that, because they have no possibility.



That's not quite accurate. You are supposing that dolphins would take our own evolution as basis for changes, which is pretty much silly and dumbing down their capacities. Why would they need to change akin to our own conception of changes? We don't even know much about how they interact or do the things they do. They're a completely different species, although mammals, and we just assume we know everything about them. Quite naivety. Do you see changes on sharks that often? They didn't need to change, or so we observed (which might not be that accurate as well), they are very efficient on their environment. But plenty of other creatures underseas might have adapted or changed to deal with sharks, such as humanoids had to change to deal with bigger predators. Even plants, which are often seen as static things, have a lot of tools, ever changing to evolve upon nuances blooming on the planet. The use of tools is highly affected by the environment. Our surface tools would not have much efficiency underwater. But given we are not native underseas, we have not came up with things such as efficient. We'll always have surface-based thinking. If our atmosphere was something like Titan's, we would have other kind of tools to consider around physics. If we had this same biotype but our planet had twice its current gravity, we would have different tools to work around, probably much more limited. But those underwater would have less impact, the need to change would be even less in comparison to our current world.

Some creatures are simply too advanced at some natural senses and capabilities if compared to us, and we are still a ways to understand what that really means upon their necessity to evolve. We have shrimps that see infrared rays, even gamma rays: can anyone here explain why? If that's a result of any change? We have creatures that use other animal's shell to defend or disguise themselves; which does not much differ from people using umbrellas to block rain. And their use of those tools have much more meaning than ours. The arrogance of placing most creatures under our feet is ridiculous. Ages ago, we were simply too weak not to change, but that doesn't mean creatures such as dolphins or sharks cannot change. Besides, most of ours changes seems not good for the equilibrium among biomes: changes are not necessary something good either. Again, we also don't have certainty that our model of society and civilization is something that grants success, especially when the scope is the entire universe. It might be just bound to failure, no matter how many changes we go through. And when I mean failure, I mean failure to coexist without damaging everything around beyond repair. A long-term failure.

But with our constant prejudice and discrimination upon other life forms on our planet, it might force changes upon those which never needed to. That makes me wonder who's really wise in the end. We have intelligence, but on whole perception on how we behave on the planet, we are not really wise. Most the changes we cause and go through do not benefit equilibrium. We might be going to an evolution proccess mirroring that of a dying star. And it might happen, if we do not make oceans improper for the current living beings there, that sharks, unchanging, will linger long after we are gone, and the changing you a most referring to will keep being useless. We don't know what they really are. That's that.

**********************

Now, returning to my book.

Happy new year for those who'll linger around here.
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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


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posted December 30, 2020 10:57 PM

PandaTar said:
JollyJoker said:

A there must be a physical way for a species for intelligence to be of use. Take dolphins. What can dolphins do to change their situation (as a herd)? They are basically nomads - and they can do nothing to change that, because they have no possibility.



That's not quite accurate.
It is. They don't need to? Yes, they, do. They are threatened, currently, their whole environment is threatened, and they would need to react to it in some way. They can't, though. They can only try and find "better grounds", when the water climate changes. 99% or an estimated 5 billion species on earth are extinct (quite probably because of their inability to react to environmental changes). The tool to avoid this is intelligence, because it allows to react to changes.

But as I said you need other traits to be able to react to existential threats. You need to able to manipulate your environment. It's not enough to sense or perceive it.

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FirePaladin
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posted December 30, 2020 11:10 PM

Well, that change is relatively sudden, quite a few years, compared to let's say, hundreds of years and more.
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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


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posted December 31, 2020 12:46 AM
Edited by JollyJoker at 00:48, 31 Dec 2020.

That's what makes the combination of intelligence, mobility and dexterity so successful.
However, that's not the only important traits.
Octopusses are probably the second most intelligent species on earth. They have mobility and dexterity, and there is at least one species living in packs, although they are predators - but they don't teach their offspring. They lay eggs, and beyond egg care there is no parental care for the offspring, which may be an important factor that makes a real difference (care for the offspring, teaching them).

What I want to say is, that in my opinion "intelligence" isn't an evolutionary trait, but a result of OTHER eveolutionary traits; if a species has those traits AND they allow a better survival by increased ability to make use of them, then there will be a mutation with a bigger brain and more emphasized intelligence-furthering traits. And so on.

Which means, I think that the evolution from Nakalipithecus 10 million years ago to Homo Sapiens some hundred thousand years ago was bound to happen, one way or another, once that (or even a species before that we may not know of) species was there. Only some massive desaster could have changed that (but who knows what that might have brought about).

The climate of the planet changes naturally. If you do a bit of research than you'll see that the climate has been a lot hotter a couple billion years ago. Climate has ALWAYS changed (over large periods), and due to desasters over short periods as well. Most species couldn't cope. Without those changes, evolution might be a lot more sluggish. Changed conditions need species to adapt, and adaptation means mutation.

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Corribus
Corribus

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The Abyss Staring Back at You
posted December 31, 2020 06:44 AM

JollyJoker said:
Changed conditions need species to adapt, and adaptation means mutation.
Mutation happens whether conditions change or not. Changing conditions create new selection pressures that favor the propagation of certain mutations that otherwise would not be favored, which gradually drives genomic change. Of course, conditions are always changing. Some changes are bigger than others.
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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


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posted December 31, 2020 08:26 PM

Corribus said:
JollyJoker said:
Changed conditions need species to adapt, and adaptation means mutation.
Mutation happens whether conditions change or not. Changing conditions create new selection pressures that favor the propagation of certain mutations that otherwise would not be favored, which gradually drives genomic change. Of course, conditions are always changing. Some changes are bigger than others.
Yes, sure, mutations happen:
However, they happen randomly, for example a copy error, right?

And THEN selection takes place, right?
Logically, for example when a certain genome is somewhat excluded from the reproduction process (there are at least several options here).
Or when changing conditions favor the "propagation of certain mutations" (others may become less and less).

Right?

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Corribus
Corribus

Hero of Order
The Abyss Staring Back at You
posted January 01, 2021 08:30 PM

JollyJoker said:
Yes, sure, mutations happen:
However, they happen randomly, for example a copy error, right?

And THEN selection takes place, right?
Logically, for example when a certain genome is somewhat excluded from the reproduction process (there are at least several options here).
Or when changing conditions favor the "propagation of certain mutations" (others may become less and less).

Right?


Yes, more or less.
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I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're goin', and hook up with them later. -Mitch Hedberg

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Blizzardboy
Blizzardboy


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Iceskating uphill
posted January 01, 2021 11:33 PM
Edited by Blizzardboy at 23:47, 01 Jan 2021.

PandaTar said:
That's not quite accurate. You are supposing that dolphins would take our own evolution as basis for changes, which is pretty much silly and dumbing down their capacities. Why would they need to change akin to our own conception of changes?


Huh? No. There is no 'us' and 'them' in that. Creatures instinctually want to live and instinctually don't want to die, with a few exceptions here and there. Dolphins are found all over the world so they do a pretty good job of flourishing and having offspring that survive.

But then sea creatures like dolphins are dying from environmental effects caused by humanity, often involving painful deaths, and this isn't because they want to suffer and die but because they don't have the adaptability to avoid it, in this case, they don't have the cognitive foresight to always understand what is or isn't dangerous, let alone how to fix it.
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artu
artu


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My BS sensor is tingling again
posted January 02, 2021 07:29 AM

I think what he means is, under different circumstances, an undersea civilization is not unimaginable. They have means to communicate, so if some specie with enough brain power can manage to build tools under sea, it may happen. The absence of fire would be a big deal I guess, since cooking made us save great energy for extra brain power. But that is just one advantage and who’s to say others dont exist under the sea, in different planets with completely different environments and natural selection pressures.
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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


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posted January 02, 2021 09:52 AM

artu said:
so if some specie with enough brain power can manage to build tools under sea.
That's the wrong way of thinking, yet again. Building tools isn't first and foremost a matter of "enough brain power" - it's a matter of being physically able to actually do it, IF brain power is indeed big enough (or could be big enough).
See, the point is, if a species has some intelligence - and there are a couple of them that have - they will use that intelligence in ways they are physically able to.
And if that ability is limited, developing more brain power isn't actually helpful - it may in fact be even harmful for a species.

I think, it's pretty obvious, that for brain power to increase within a species a couple of conditions must be met, so that mutations in that direction would be successful and establish themselves.

So a certain minimum life span would seem to be important. Care for the offspring, teaching them what the species would have learned over and above instincts (real history, if you want to, and acquired skills). Manual abilities/limbs to actually manipulate the environment.

So the cephalopods (and of those, especially octopusses) would be a promising candidate, but their life span is too short. They basically die not long after mating and after the eggs have hatched, respectively, which is a big bummer in terms of developing a "civilization". They have highly developed brains and nervous systems, but the life cycle is, let's call it civilophobe.

Same for state-building insects. A queen is too solitary and their life spans are too short.

You need something like mammals with an acceptable life span and offspring care plus limbs with which to manipulate the environment.


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artu
artu


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My BS sensor is tingling again
posted January 02, 2021 11:24 AM

I don’t see how this is an objection to what I said, we are talking about hypothetical undersea creatures and just because the ones existing now dont meet the requirements, doesnt mean no sea creature ever can. Yes, you’ll need some form of grabbing organ to build things, plus care for your offspring beyond instinctive level (on Earth, this is a trait special to mammals, including sea mammals). These may evolve underwater though. On some planet with different selective pressures, why not? Of course, for space travel, they would then have to “conquer the land and air” with technology similar to our submarine technology but space travel and contact is another matter. We are just brainstorming about the probability of their existence here.
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RerryR
RerryR


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posted January 02, 2021 11:58 AM
Edited by RerryR at 12:03, 02 Jan 2021.

PandaTar said:
Humans, brains and theories are simply too limited. Our perceptions, contraptions, senses, interests and assumptions are too limited. We have just our planet as reference. We are not even 100% sure we exist or we are just a computational simulation. And faith is just another tool, just as limited as humans are.

90% of our universe (observable, that is, which could mean another infinity of possibilities, so even that number is just hypothetical) is made of something people tagged a name on but have no idea of what it is. The rest is made of limited information, matter, based on long-range observations of the past, which might be blatantly different from what's really happening there.


I think you are taken away too much of the achievements and the amount of knowledge mankind has about our environment and the universe.
It is exactly these discoveries about the universal laws and conditions of the universe by which we can say what can be and what cannot be. Hence we know how old the universe is, we can observe remnant of his birth, we can estimate its size and on which periods of the universe the appearance of life is possible and when not. We can even look at the very beginning of the universe with our telescopes, so I would not say the brain is too limited.
Natural laws apply both here and in a distant galaxy. To know this allows a lot of statements about how a different kind, species or civilization can look at all.

I know it seems tempting to think about very abstract life forms that are not tied to our dimensions or our grasp of time. But it is not likely or outright impossible.

Interesting topic however.

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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


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posted January 02, 2021 01:50 PM

artu said:
I don’t see how this is an objection to what I said, we are talking about hypothetical undersea creatures and just because the ones existing now dont meet the requirements, doesnt mean no sea creature ever can. Yes, you’ll need some form of grabbing organ to build things, plus care for your offspring beyond instinctive level (on Earth, this is a trait special to mammals, including sea mammals). These may evolve underwater though. On some planet with different selective pressures, why not? Of course, for space travel, they would then have to “conquer the land and air” with technology similar to our submarine technology but space travel and contact is another matter. We are just brainstorming about the probability of their existence here.

What I mean is, "intelligence" isn't a prerequisite. It's an automatism. A sufficient level of it comes with the complexits of the organism and the senses (you need come capacity to process high sensory input). Then it's a matter of the factors named and "higher intelligence" up to civilization building will be an automatism, given enough time.

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Blizzardboy
Blizzardboy


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posted January 02, 2021 05:47 PM
Edited by Blizzardboy at 17:56, 02 Jan 2021.

As long as there is some sort of centralized nervous system. In terms of dexterity, starfish require an extraordinary nervous system for movement that in many ways is far beyond a human, but there's no central brain where it all comes together to be processed.

Octopuses are a little bit similar. They have three hearts, eight mini brains, and one more centralized brain, but the mini brains handle a lot of their feats of dexterity for each of their arms. So being that an octopus is a very alien, very different creature from humans and from mammals in general and has a very distinct and unique evolutionary history, it's harder to define what "intelligence" is in an octopus. But, since they can show either affection or anger towards people and they can recognize individual people's faces, they do seem to have a very good central nervous system.

I agree that land seems like a much more likely environment for intelligence to develop, but not absolutely necessary. In our own ocean almost all of the very intelligent sea creatures are ancestors of land animals. Seals and walruses are descendants of canines that transitioned back into a marine environment, which is why they behave similarly to dogs.
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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


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posted January 02, 2021 06:38 PM

With octopuses the problem is a combination of life span and offspring care. Depending on the octopus specie life span is between 6 months and five years. Giant Pacific Octopus (5 years) have been studied extensively. Males die shortly after mating (senescence). Females put out 10.000 to 70.000 (!) fertilized eggs after mating and tend them 5 months without eating (which is why they die after that).
Humans have experimentally removed glands responsible for that behavior resulting in much bigger life spans.

Now - too much intelligence might obviously cause one hell of a lot of problems here, obviously. The biology of the species means, higher intelligence will clash with species survival (the individual is basically committing suicide when reproducing)...

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Blizzardboy
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Iceskating uphill
posted January 02, 2021 07:35 PM
Edited by Blizzardboy at 20:52, 02 Jan 2021.

I don't know about the males dying off (is that behavioral?) but with the females, that hormonally-driven behavior could always theoretically be ignored if it had more intelligence and long-term thinking. Anytime you have a species developing higher cognition it's going to be somewhat of a mess, because those higher order thinking skills aren't always easily compatible with more basic instincts. With humans that is extremely obvious but you can see it some in other mammals too. That's one of the main topics that come up in speculation about extraterrestrial life. In addition to everything else, there's the question of how probable it is for any advanced civilization to eventually annihilate itself before it ever makes contact with another civilization. Like, even if there were some other civilizations in the galaxy that have already made contact with each other, we might not ever make it that far anyway and never get to join the club.  
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