Friday, December 04, 2009

The Fermi Paradox: Peeing in the gene pool!

Did I just answer the Fermi Paradox?

To summarize - the Drake Equation is a calculation of the likelihood of existence of intelligent, non-human life in the universe. A lot of assumptions, a lot of guesswork, but considering that our galaxy alone has over a hundred billion stars, very, very likely.
The question therefore was - if they're out there, why haven't we met them yet?
The Fermi Paradox is the addition of one more factor to the calculation - an unknown quantity as of right now - which prevents the existence of intelligent life.

And I think I just got what it is. It's evolution.
Or rather, de-volution.

Think about it. Right up till the Industrial Revolution, people would die of stupidity. The environment was hostile, and resources were limited. If you couldn't take care of yourself, and weren't an asset to the community, you would die and nobody would be able to - or want to - save you. Your stupid genes would leave the gene pool. Humanity would get a little bit smarter, evolve some more.

This made us all so smart over time, we became the the masters of the planet. The process took three billion years, but here we are.
And since we're the masters, we control everything. We can kill lions, great white sharks, rhinos, elephants, blue whales. We even kill them by accident, without meaning to and often without even noticing. In hundreds and thousands. It's genocide, an extermination all the more criminal in it's being accidental. If an animal competes with us for a resource, god help it. It's already extinct.

And with all the resources we now have, what do we do?
We create ideals.

Ideals of altruism. Of helping those less fortunate. Of charity. Social security.
All this makes people who were otherwise scheduled to be chucked out of the gene pool, are now allowed to hang around and contaminate it.
Think about it. How can you ever deny someone the right to breed, no matter what circumstances they are in? It goes against every ideal of liberty, equality, fraternity, democracy, enlightenment, emancipation, and personal freedom. It creates stupid children of stupid parents who are allowed to survive and breed. It creates a world where higher levels of intelligence marks you as different, strange.

Intelligence = success? In some ways. Short-term ways. Success in your own lifetime, maybe guaranteeing your children's. But long-term success? Like preserving ecological diversity, not poisoning the oceans and filling the atmosphere with carcinogens?
It's just not good business sense.

So we continue to get dumber and dumber. Intelligent content dies, starved of audience and thus, money. Content gets dumber, making people dumber, and it's a vicious cycle that ends with an idiocracy.

And that's the missing link, the answer to the Fermi paradox. Any civilization which is smart enough to be the masterclass on it's planet creates in the process a situation which leads inevitably to it's own stagnation and destruction.
A few generations down, someone will hit a nuclear button and some of them will still fly. Not enough to kill all life 22 times over. Maybe just once.

And sometime, somewhere, yet another someone else will look up at the silent, starry sky and wonder why they're alone in the universe...


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