≡ Menu

SETI at the Particle Level

A big reason why the Fermi paradox has punch is the matter of time. Max Tegmark gets into this in his excellent new book Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality (Knopf, 2014), where he runs through what many thinkers on the subject have noted: Our Sun is young enough that countless stars and the planets that orbit them must have offered homes for life long before we ever appeared. With at least a several billion year head start, wouldn’t intelligent life have had time to spread, and shouldn’t its existence be perfectly obvious by now?

Tegmark’s book is fascinating, and if you’re interested in learning why this dazzling theorist thinks it likely we are the only intelligent life not just in our galaxy but in our universe, I commend it to you (although Fermi issues play only the tiniest of roles in its overall themes). I’ll have plenty of occasion to get into Tegmark’s ideas about what he believes to be not just a multiverse but a multiply-staged multiverse (i.e., four different kinds of multiverse) in coming days. But today I want to look at yet another Fermi speculation, this one by the Australian artificial intelligence researcher Hugo de Garis.


Image: The spiral galaxy M81 would seem to offer countless possible environments for life. But is there a SETI case to be made not just on the galactic level, but on the level of the very small? Image credit & copyright: Giovanni Benintende.

If SETI is giving us no evidence of extraterrestrials, maybe it’s because we’re looking on too large a scale. What if, in other words, truly advanced intelligence, having long ago taken to non-biological form, finds ways to maximize technology on the level of the very small? Thus de Garis’ interest in femtotech, a technology at the level of 10-15 meters. The idea is to use the properties of quarks and gluons to compute at this scale, where in terms of sheer processing power the improvement in performance is a factor of a trillion trillion over what we can extrapolate for nanotech.

I leave you to the two de Garis essays listed at the end of this article for the particulars on how this might be accomplished, including thoughts on moving beyond femtotech to ‘attotech’ and even what he calls ‘zeptotech’ (using possibly existing force particles that would mediate the grand unified force of the electroweak force and the color force; i.e., the strong nuclear force). It turns out that the vast improvement from nanotech to femtotech is based on factors like the density being a million cubed times greater, while the signaling speed between femto components would be a million times faster because such components are so much closer together, and so on.

If artilects are the future of biological life forms — their successors, actually — then wouldn’t there be pressure to gradually downgrade to nanotech scale (nanolects) and eventually to femtotech levels? Such a ‘downgrade’ is actually an upgrade, of course, and continuing to downgrade as far as possible would only make sense as long as huge performance gains can be achieved.

Thus de Garis’ conclusion (the italics are his):

The hyper intelligences that are billions of years older than we are in our universe (which is about 3 times older than our sun), have probably “downgraded” themselves to achieve hugely greater performance levels. Whole civilizations may be living inside volumes the size of nucleons or smaller.

Given this perspective, conventional SETI through radio or even Dysonian methods (i.e., looking for the signatures of macro-engineering, as recently discussed in these pages in Jason Wright’s Glimpsing Heat from Alien Technologies) begins to look incomplete. Indeed, de Garis refers to it as ‘provincial,’ arguing that while he would not want the SETI effort to be canceled, he does believe that any radio-emitting civilizations out there are most likely not the most intelligent beings in the universe. To find the truly advanced civilizations, we would need to look on the level of the very small:

Therefore I recommend that humanity start thinking about ways to detect their presence. We need a SIPI, a Search for Infra Particle Intelligence. For example, why are the elementary particles such “carbon copies” of each other, for each particle type? Once one starts “seeing” intelligence in elementary particles, it changes the way one looks at them, and the way one interprets the laws of nature, and the interpretation of quantum mechanics, etc. It’s a real paradigm shift away from looking for non human intelligence in outer space, to looking for it in inner space, i.e. SIPI.

I remember lively discussions with several fellow writers over the years on the question of whether we might miss an extraterrestrial civilization’s signature because it was small. Indeed, one colleague speculated, the Earth itself could be under intense observation through a nanotechnology network that would be completely outside our range of observation. Where SIPI brings us is into a realm where even nanotech seems like a bulky and rather clumsy way to proceed. It’s a Fermi solution wild enough to galvanize many a future SETI conversation.

The relevant essays are de Garis, “Femtotech: Computing at the Femtometer Scale
Using Quarks and Gluons” (full text available at kurzweilai.net) and “X-Tech and the Search for Infra Particle Intelligence” (available at h+ Magazine).


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ljk March 13, 2014, 14:53

    The Search for Aliens Is Just Getting Started

    Seth Shostak, SETI senior astronomer, tells PopMech why it’s no surprise our search for alien life has so far come up empty—and why, if there really is intelligent life out there, we’ll find it within the next few decades.

    By William Herkewitz

    March 12, 2014 6:30 AM

    Over the past 50 years, several SETI projects have scoured the cosmos but have yet to turn up anything conclusive. What do you make of this cosmic radio-silence?

    A lot of people do think of and refer to this as a silence, but I certainly don’t. Because of the limitations in equipment and money, we’ve carefully explored very little of the sky. Yes, the first SETI experiment was done more than a half century ago, but you probably have to look at a few million star systems at very high sensitivity before you score a success. We haven’t carefully examined anywhere near that number—a few thousand at most.

    The thing to keep in mind is that we’re still in the very early days when it comes to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Saying there’s a silence is a bit like if Columbus, looking to discover a new continent, only sailed 10 miles off the coast of Spain before turning back to say, “Nothing out there! I guess that whole exploration gig isn’t going to work out.”

    Full article here:


  • ljk April 16, 2014, 23:43

    14 Intriguing Ways We Could Detect Signs Of An Alien Civilization

    George Dvorsky

    For the past 50 years, our efforts to detect extraterrestrial civilizations have largely focused on the search for radio emissions. But this is hardly the only strategy at our disposal. Here are 14 intriguing ways we could prove that aliens really exist.

    If we’re going to find an extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), we’re going to recognize their signatures. These signs can be organized into three basic types: spectral signatures, physical artifacts and structures, and remnants, or byproducts, of their technological activities. Some of these signatures could be deliberate attempts to get our attention, while others are simply leakage.

    Should we detect these signatures, however, the challenge will in determining which are the work of an ETI and which are the products of some unknown or bizarre natural phenomena (like the time we thought quasars were an alien beacon).

    Here’s what we should be looking for:


  • ljk May 6, 2014, 12:36

    A neurobiologist asks if humanity is ready for contact with ETI. He says probably not – until we expand our cosmic consciousness.

    You can read about it in a paper that is only $35.95, though this is a pretty good summary for free:


    An article I wrote last year on why SETI needs more people outside the usual radio astronomer types involved:


    One way we might try to expand our cosmic horizons, which need it more than ever these days:


  • ljk May 8, 2014, 13:48

    SETI ala cloud computing:


    Another article on the recent anti-METI paper from Phys.org:


    The author of the above news item thinks, as do many others, that SETI is some monolithic organization. And most of the people doing METI these days are not from the SETI community. The ESA is about to beam ten winning videos into the galaxy in relation to the Rosetta comet mission in a matter of days. I have no further details at the moment, including where the transmissions are aimed at.

    No one is policing METI, nor do I think it will be seriously possible. We should prepare for the consequences rather than keep hoping METI will be curbed, because it will not so long as human nature exists.

  • ljk May 8, 2014, 13:58

    Here we go regarding the ESA METI:


    This is not being done by any professional SETI folks and is largely a stunt.

    This kind of METI will continue and probably increase so long as people do not take the idea of contact with other intelligences seriously.

  • ljk May 13, 2014, 11:27
  • ljk May 16, 2014, 11:56

    The European Space Agency (ESA) just conducted its METI (Messaging to Extraterrestrial Intelligences) project on May 15, 2014.

    Here are some details, with links to more:


    For those who are concerned about what we send from this planet into the Milky Way galaxy, this stunt – by a major space agency no less – should be rather alarming.

    And NASA has been no less guilty in this regard:


  • ljk May 22, 2014, 11:46

    Apparently the US government is having trouble dealing with the concept of alien life these days – which is not surprising considering their lack of education on the subject.

    The SETI Institute’s Seth Shostak and Dan Wertheimer spoke at a hearing before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology in Washington, D.C., to review the current state of the science related to the search for life in the universe.

    Some articles on the event here:




    Here is a video of the actual meeting, courtesy of C-SPA N:


    I have yet to watch this video but according to someone on Facebook who did, all was going well until one senator asked a question in relation to the Ancient Aliens television program and the whole thing soon devolved into a “circus atmosphere”. Sigh. I wonder if anything was actually accomplished?

    The other news item on the subject of aliens relates to a new book just released by NASA – which was then taken offline because of a single quote taken out of context.

    Thankfully the book is still available via the link below and it looks good. I know Douglas Vakoch who is heavily involved with plans on how we might really be able to make ETI understand us. Clearly he also needs to focus on the maroons in public office.


    NASA also dropped its SETI program back in 1993 after less than a year of operations due to the ignorant comments of a few senators, so perhaps this is not terribly surprising.


  • ljk May 22, 2014, 16:45

    Congress Asked Some Really Weird Questions at the Alien Life Hearing

    George Dvorsky

    Today 12:20pm

    Yesterday, SETI astrobiologists told the U.S. Congress there’s “close to a 100% chance” that aliens exist, adding that we might detect signs of life in 20 years. But things went south when the floor opened up for questions.

    Dan Werthimer, director of the SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at SETI, were on Capitol Hill yesterday discussing the need for continued funding for the search for life in the galaxy. The gathering was a follow-up to a December 2013 hearing on the search for biosignatures in our solar system and beyond.

    Only a ‘cramped mind’ wouldn’t wonder

    Werthimer told the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology that the possibility of microbial life on other planets is close to 100%.

    “It would be bizarre if we are alone,” Werthimer said. “It would be a cramped mind that didn’t wonder what other life is out there.”

    Full article here:


    To quote:

    Both astronomers agreed that aliens likely exist in various stages of development and that there could be “a lot of advanced civilizations” as well. Thankfully, Werthimer did not advocate for an Active SETI approach, instead arguing that we should just “receive signals and see what’s out there,” adding: “My feeling is that we should just be listening.”


    Ancient Aliens? Really?

    But once the presentation was over, the floor was opened for questions. And that’s when things, for the most part, started to get a bit weird. Danielle Wiener-Bronner from The Wire reports:

    Rep. Suzanne Bonamici recalled the question a colleague, Rep. Chris Smith, posed during an earlier hearing. “What do we do when we find life on another planet?” She asked the alarmist question next, “What’s the plan? Do we announce it to the world?” Shostak shot back, respectfully, that people have thought for years that the government has a secret alien plan when, in reality, “nobody in the government shows the slightest bit of interest” in SETI’s activities. Zing.

    Rep. Chris Collins posed the question he thought was on everyone’s mind — “Have you watched Ancient Aliens and what is your comment on the series?”

    Shostak replied that he takes issue with the premise of the show, which posits that ancient artifacts suggest a long-ago alien visit to Earth. “Pyramids were built by Egyptians,” he said, and Werthimer added that “UFOs have nothing to do with extraterrestrials.” That was Collins’s only question. Rep. Bill Posey asked the scientists to discuss “Project Blue Book,” drawing a connection between UFOs and the search for life in spite of Werthimer’s note.

    It should be noted, however, that some members of the committee made more serious inquiries. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson asked how SETI research had contributed to other areas of science, and Rep. Donna Edwards asked for details on how the panchromatic telescope project would work.

    But its hard to shake the feeling that, for the most part, committee members stepped into the room with a view of aliens as imaginary humanoid beings waiting to talk to us, and walked out with that same view. Which has more to say about the state of our government than the state of our scientific advances.

    Ugh. I can imagine the mental face-palms being made by Shostak and Werthimer during the Q&A period.

  • ljk May 23, 2014, 15:53

    Good blog post summarizing the so-called Fermi Paradox:


  • ljk May 23, 2014, 16:07

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence gets hearing on Hill

    May 22, 2014 by Robert Sanders

    Dan Werthimer, who directs Berkeley’s new SETI Research Center, summarized current efforts to search for extraterrestrial intelligence at a hearing today (Wednesday, May 21) of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

    Full article here:


    To quote:

    In a phone conversation from Washington, Werthimer noted that one limitation of merely scanning the sky for signals from ET is that, unless ET is deliberately attempting to signal other intelligent life, it relies on picking up signals accidentally leaked from other civilizations. Earth broadcasts of the TV series I Love Lucy have already reached the nearest stars, betraying our existence to any intelligent civilizations that may live there.

    But many advanced societies would probably limit such wasted energy, he said, either sending signals via fiber or in tightly focused beams. If these civilizations have colonized other planets in their solar systems, however, they would still have to send signals between planets, or at least use broad beams to track spacecraft. Werthimer and his SETI colleagues have embarked on a new project called “eavesdropping SETI,” where they listen only when two planets in a distant system are aligned with Earth, giving Earth a chance to intercept such targeted communications.

    “The Kepler mission has given us a ton of multiplanet systems to look at,” said Werthimer’s colleague Andrew Siemion, a research scientist at the Space Sciences Laboratory who holds joint postdoctoral appointments at ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, and Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. In 2012, the team observed 75 such line-ups using the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank telescope in West Virginia.

    They now plan a broader, more coordinated effort, dubbed the Panchromatic SETI Project, to observe the planets around all 30 stars within 13 light years of Earth in the northern hemisphere. To do this, the UC Berkeley collaborators will harness six different ground-based telescopes, including Arecibo, Green Bank and the Keck telescopes in Hawaii, to look for optical, infrared and radio signals simultaneously and for more extended periods of time.

    While admitting that “no confirmed exoplanet detections have been made around any of the stars in our sample,” Siemion said that “statistically speaking, we know that some of these stars should host habitable planets,” and this survey will be the first to put broad multi-wavelength limits on how common technological civilizations are.

    “We plan to use every technology we have available to us to look very, very closely at these 30 stars,” he said.

    Werthimer noted in his committee remarks that while “SETI programs use the world’s largest radio and optical telescopes to search for evidence of advanced civilizations and their technology on distant extrasolar planets,” two of the best – the Arecibo and Green Bank telescopes – are in danger of losing federal funding.

    “It’s unfortunate that the two largest radio telescopes in the world and that are best for SETI are in danger of closing their doors,” he said.

    LJK comments:

    THIRTY stars? Give me a break. If this is a test, fine. But if this is the real deal and they think not detecting anything after such a small sample says anything of importance about the existence of ETI, then this SETI project is yet another token effort.

    Professional astronomers and scientists, when are you going to get really serious about looking for intelligent beings beyond Earth? You have lots of good new data and much better technology, so that should no longer be an obstruction to doing real SETI.

    Are you still concerned about being ridiculed by your peers and the general public for looking for “little green men”? It is now the year 2014: We know there are trillions of planets in the Milky Way galaxy alone, Dan W. said so during this meeting. Most of us no longer think that a deity made one world just for one species to worship it, and many of those who do think said deity exists also think many other worlds have intelligent inhabitants. SETI is a scientifically plausible way to search for ETI, with the additional comment that it can now be ramped up to include more than just radio as a means for detection.

    If you do find alien life, you know it will be the biggest event in human history. Money, fame, instant recognition, Nobel prizes, and more are an automatic guarantee – not to mention that little thing called expanding human knowledge on a cosmic level. So what is the hold up?

  • ljk May 23, 2014, 16:39

    Review: Archaeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication

    · May 23, 2014


    If we were to receive a signal from an extraterrestrial intelligence would we be smart enough to understand it?

    This book addresses a field that has been “dominated by astronomers, physicists, engineers, and computer scientists” and raises challenging questions about the ease of establishing meaningful communication with an extraterrestrial intelligence. The contributors to this work draw on contemporary archaeology and anthropology, and suggest these tools will enable us to be prepared for contact with an extraterrestrial civilization.

    The authors propose drawing on our rich knowledge of human use of symbols and information artifacts to communicate rather than the signal processing and information theoretic approaches employed in the majority of current SETI efforts. This idea has broader implications, for example, in the field of artificial intelligence. Chapters Five, Six, and Seven will be of interest to researchers in language understanding, text processing and general computational linguistics.

    As it delves into our ability to understand complex messages with unknown meanings, the book also touches on ideas of interest to anyone that dabbles in cryptography and steganography. The discussion of extra-terrestrial evolution was also interesting as it might also be considered a map of potential post human forms and instantiations. Also of particular interest to transhumanists will be the discussion of potential alternate forms of alien cognition and in particular the all too brief section discussing distributed cognition at the end of the book.

    Links to the book in various formats are here:


  • ljk May 27, 2014, 9:33

    Of Alien Life And Intelligence (Part 1): The Limits Of Perception

    By Leonidas Papadopoulos

    “Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” – Arthur C. Clarke

    The notion of the plurality of worlds and the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe, has intrigued humankind since the time of the ancient Greek pre-Socratic philosophers of the 6th century BCE. The emergence of modern science during the 16th century, finally provided the means with which the possibility of life elsewhere in the Universe could be empirically explored, through the use of the scientific method. The exciting discoveries of thousands of exoplanets during the last 20 years, have led scientists to speculate that contact with extraterrestrial life could well happen within the next 20 years.

    If such a scenario were to come to pass, would we be able to perceive any extraterrestrial life as such? The first part of this article examines this question, by exploring the way with which the human mind and our perceptions of the world around us could possibly aid or hinder our searches to discover something so alien and unknown to our human senses and experiences.

    Full article here:


  • ljk June 2, 2014, 12:46

    Of Alien Life and Intelligence: Angels and Demons (Part 2)

    By Leonidas Papadopoulos

    “Life, even cellular life, may exist out yonder in the dark. But high or low in nature, it will not wear the shape of man.”

    — Loren Eiseley

    Interactions between humans and other intelligent species in the Universe has been one of the most favorite subjects of science fiction stories in literature, cinema, and television alike, often depicted with a varying degree of realism, ranging from the scientifically plausible to the outright absurd.

    The real-life search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, which has been ongoing for more than half a century, has shifted the subject from a mere philosophical speculation to that of real scientific inquiry, while carrying the potential to successfully discover signs of other intelligent civilisations in the galaxy, at any given time.

    The first part of this article examined the limits of our human perceptions in our ability to acknowledge such a discovery. This article examines some of our basic preconceptions regarding the nature of extraterrestrial intelligence.

    Since the first radio search for other intelligent civilisations was conducted in 1960 by American astronomer Frank Drake, SETI scientists have pondered the possible consequences of their search on the rest of society. With time, more and more experts from a wide variety of scientific fields, including psychology, anthropology, and the social sciences, began to study the emotional, intellectual, and cultural implications of a possible successful SETI outcome.

    To aid their efforts in the absence of a confirmed discovery, researchers have often used analogies drawn from various instances in the history of our own civilisation when two very different cultures with entirely different levels of technological sophistication came into contact for the first time. In addition, a vast number of surveys and polls conducted through the years regarding the public’s beliefs on the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence have allowed researchers to make some educated guesses about the public’s reactions on a hypothetical contact event.

    The examination of our beliefs regarding the possible nature of extraterrestrial intelligence is as interesting and illuminating as the study of the possible outcomes from contacting it.

    Full article here:


  • ljk June 3, 2014, 11:28

    Of Alien Life and Intelligence: Are We Ready For Contact? (Part 3)

    By Leonidas Papadopoulos

    “Imagine how foolish you would feel if you didn’t try, only because someone said you’re a lunatic”.

    — Paul Horowitz, SETI scientist.

    Although entirely speculative, the notion of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence, has over the years attracted the interest of a growing number of scientists outside of the fields of astronomy and astrobiology, that have traditionally been associated with the search for its discovery. Researchers from a wide range of disciplines like anthropology, psychology and the societal sciences, have studied the possible effects of such a discovery to society and culture.

    If such a discovery were to take place, either by the reception or transmission of an interstellar message, how would we react, as individuals and as a society? The last part of this article examines the results of a study, which cautions that contemporary society may not be ready for such a monumental event.

    Full article here:


  • ljk June 3, 2014, 16:42

    This three-part article from Gerry Harp’s blog makes many good points about the current state of SETI and some recent developments served with a nice dollop of humor. It is also nice to see that I am not alone in my views on the subject of SETI.




    To quote from Part 1:

    The point I’m making is that SETI is a branch of science. The opposite of “science,” for want of a better word, might be called “belief.” (jingle, jingle…) Example: Recently at the ATA (visitor hours 9am-3pm M-F), a courageous young man told me straight to my face, “I don’t believe in aliens.” What was I to do? I said, “Well, it’s not a religion.” (jingle, jingle…) Ah! Not to disparage religion or any other system of beliefs. To avoid the imminent mobs, I’ll re-label what I called “beliefs” as, “convicted opinions that cannot be tested by observations of nature,” or opinions for short.

    Whether or not aliens exist is not a matter of anyone’s opinion. It is a scientific question that can and should be answered with science.

  • ljk June 5, 2014, 15:43

    Aliens are almost surely out there—Now can we find the money to find them?

    Thursday, June 5, 2014 – 5 hours ago

    by Glen Martin, Cal Alumni Association

    Dan Werthimer thinks his testimony last week before the House Subcommittee on Science, Space and Technology went pretty well. As director of the SETI Research Center at Berkeley, Werthimer updated committee members on the search for extraterrestrial life, and provided a generally upbeat evaluation: ET microbial life likely is ubiquitous throughout the galaxy, and new technologies have improved the chances of detecting signals from advanced alien civilizations.

    “They were quite engaged,” Werthimer says of the representatives, members of a Congress notorious for its ideological partisanship and not particularly renowned for a deep commitment to science. “They asked reasonable questions, and they seemed disinclined to go at each other.” [Except when they started asking inane UFO type questions towards the end, as these SETI events often bog down into with the general public. It does not help that this online article is accompanied by artwork depicting a typical silvery flying saucer-shaped UFO. Oy.]

    Full article here:


    To quote:

    But back to the happier (hopefully) topic of aliens. Part of the reason Werthimer made the dreary trek to the Hill was, unsurprisingly, money. It’s something that researchers at SETI—an acronym for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence—need more of if they’re going to continue probing the cosmos.

    “There are maybe two dozen full-time SETI researchers in the world, and we’re all operating on shoestrings,” he says. “We don’t need a zillion dollars for this work. Our research is quite inexpensive, but we do need some money. More to the point, we need reliable funding. The fluctuations in funding have been more problematic than the amount of money. For example, sometimes we get money from NASA and sometimes we don’t. That makes it difficult to plan experiments.”


    Along with funding shortfalls, SETI has another problem. Most researchers are approaching retirement age, and it’s unclear if there’s enough young blood to keep the project going.

    “Here at Berkeley, we have only one guy, Andrew Siemion, who took his PhD in SETI and is staying with the program,” Wertheimer said. (Siemion testified with Wertheimer in Washington.) “He’s doing brilliant work, but he’s just one person. We need to recruit and train a new generation of researchers.”

    My comments:

    How can you attract new recruits to SETI when the handful of people making a living at it are just scraping by along with their programs? Plus SETI is still considered fringe by many in mainstream science and the general public, so who wants to risk a long climb up the university career ladder in such a field? There is a good reason most SETI practitioners are tenured and retired professionals.

    Looking for alien life should be among the most important things humanity will ever do. Yes it has gained some respectability since the days of Project Ozma back in 1960, but aliens are still treated as socially embarrassing and either vile or silly villains or court jesters in our entertainment media.

    What will make this change? Those with the authority in the relevant fields can start by making SETI more respectable in their comments and especially in how much funding it receives. SETI will never succeed so long as we keep making token glances at the sky and declare nothing has been found. And yes, most SETI projects are token efforts. The few which are dedicated do so thanks to the efforts of the individuals running them. But we will continue to come up empty when it comes to alien life so long as we keep treating SETI and its related fields as a joke, or pay merely lip service to the pretense that humans are cosmically aware beyond the confines of Earth.

  • ljk June 5, 2014, 22:47

    On the Fermi Paradox


    Yesterday, June 4, 2014 at 4:14pm

    As I’m sure you all know every now and again and again and again io9 dedicates a little time to the Fermi Paradox, the Great Silence, and the Great Filter.

    Anyway. One possible solution to the Fermi Paradox is that we cannot understand the signals that others send us. Seems clear and logical enough. We perceive intelligent alien actions the way that an ant would view our actions.

    This is definitely possible and its implications usually center on our need to develop more as a species to understand those actions. But …. there is a disturbing secondary paradox when we believe there are super intelligent aliens whose actions we cannot understand.

    Full article here:


    This guy should read His Master’s Voice by Stanislaw Lem:



  • ljk June 19, 2014, 9:15

    X – teched creatures billions of years old

    June 19, 2014


    In earlier essays I conceived the idea of X-Techs, i.e. technologies at the “X scale”, where X could be femto, atto, zepto, etc. Scaling down a technology by a factor of a thousand would increase the total performance of that technology by a factor of 1000 to the fourth power, i.e. a trillion, since the density would increase by 1000 to the third power, and the inter-component signaling speed would increase by a factor of a 1000, since the inter-component distances are a 1000 times smaller. Hence “smaller is faster.”

    This line of thinking led me to the notion of SIPI (Search for Infra Particle Intelligence) rather than the usual SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) based on receiving radio signals from creatures similar to ourselves at a similar development level, which strikes me as being rather provincial minded.

    The next logical step, it seems to me, is to speculate on what hyper intelligent synthetic creatures (artilects), which are x-tech based, might have done with themselves over billions of years, given that our sun, our star, is billions of years younger than most stars in the observable universe. This is a fascinating question, which this essay attempts to address.

    How does one begin on such a speculation, given that these hyper intelligences would have performance levels trillions of trillions… of times above the human level, and have had billions of years in which to evolve and complexify, before our sun was even born?

    Full article here: