The Visit: An Alien Encounter trailer

I think that the greatest event for mankind to ever experience would be extraterrestrial life—to meet life from elsewhere. I think that would question everything that we hold to be true about ourselves and our particular place in the universe. In that respect, I think this is a unique scenario by which to explore something about human understanding and human self-perception and also, of course, ideally create a kind of a mirror. That’s what I’ve been trying to do with The Visit.

I’m interested in using this outside perspective of a creature coming from elsewhere, outside of human understanding, outside of human self-evidence about everything in this world that we inhabit. I assume that a kind of a task force would be formed in such an event—what sort of things would they be asking about? What would they be explaining about human beings? What’s important to understand about human beings? These are the things that I’m interested in. You can also say that I’m trying to create a kind of philosophical launch within the audience, in terms of these questions.

And the question is—this is something that I was very interested in exploring with the experts—to which extent are we able to perceive something that is not like ourselves? How can we see something that is fundamentally different? And this is also of course what is being discussed in terms of lifeforms and so on. But how do we actually detect life that’s not like life on earth? With it comes other minds, other feelings, other emotions, other types of memory, other perceptual faculties, it’s just exponentially more difficult. But, of course, there is also something infinitely wondrous about this. What if somebody comes here and has a completely different experience of reality and we could learn something from that and could of course expand our own world?

I think this is connected to something deeply human and perhaps the whole thing why we do look to the stars and ponder if there is life out there. Because there is a very interesting longing toward space and what’s out there. I think it has to do with this hope or idea or longing towards being seen by something other. By being seen, also by something superior, you actually gain existence, because you’re recognized as something.I think if somebody came here and left again without a word, more or less, without any [idea of] why they [came] and so on, I think, yes, that would plunge us into a collective depression, because we would get the idea that we were nothing. We weren’t worth wasting more time on. It was just like they just stopped by on the road and there was nothing to see and then they just drove on in a way. That would give us a kind of inferiority complex, which we might already have.

Let the record state that my mission statement has long included  “positioning myself on the Rolodex of Humanity, to be called upon in the event of First Contact” 🙂

Dark Mystic Astrobiology Team, ASSEMBLE!

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Geoffrey Landis’ percolation theory as to lack of detectable Type III Civilisations

Perhaps the best reasoning as to why an advanced civilisation possessing the ability for interstellar travel would fail to colonise an entire galaxy is Geoffrey Landis’ percolation theory. Landis makes the assumption that interstellar travel is short haul only. We might be able to make direct flights to alpha Centauri or epsilon Eridani, but anything […]

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“Fine, I’ll tell you. But I have to warn you, Richard, that your question falls under the umbrella of a pseudoscience called xenology. Xenology is an unnatural mixture of science fiction and formal logic. At its core is a flawed assumption—that an alien race would be psychologically human.”

“Why flawed?” asked Noonan.

“Because biologists have already been burned attempting to apply human psychology to animals. Earth animals, I note.”

“Just a second,” said Noonan. “That’s totally different. We’re talking about the psychology of intelligent beings.”

“True. And that would be just fine, if we knew what intelligence was.”

“And we don’t?” asked Noonan in surprise.

“Believe it or not, we don’t. We usually proceed from a trivial definition: intelligence is the attribute of man that separates his activity from that of the animals. It’s a kind of attempt to distinguish the master from his dog, who seems to understand everything but can’t speak. However, this trivial definition does lead to wittier ones. They are based on depressing observations of the aforementioned human activity. For example: intelligence is the ability of a living creature to perform pointless or unnatural acts.”

“Yes, that’s us,” agreed Noonan.

“Unfortunately. Or here’s a definition-hypothesis. Intelligence is a complex instinct which hasn’t yet fully matured. The idea is that instinctive activity is always natural and useful. A million years will pass, the instinct will mature, and we will cease making the mistakes which are probably an integral part of intelligence. And then, if anything in the universe changes, we will happily become extinct—again, precisely because we’ve lost the art of making mistakes, that is, trying various things not prescribed by a rigid code.”

“Somehow this all sounds so … demeaning.”

“All right, then here’s another definition—a very lofty and noble one. Intelligence is the ability to harness the powers of the surrounding world without destroying the said world.”

Roadside Picnic – Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
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Will Humans Achieve a Type 1 Civilization by 2100? | h+ Magazine         

By 2100 A.D. as Kaku predicts we will approach a Type 1. We will capture all the solar energy that reaches Earth increasing our energy supply by a factor of 100-billion. We will have harnessed nanotechnology and warp drive propulsion and will be a civilization of this world and off this world.

By 2200 A.D., a mere century later we will approach Type 2, harnessing all the energy of our Sun, another 100-billion-fold increase. We will be extra-solar inhabiting planets on many nearby stars.

By 3000 A.D. we will have harnessed the energy of every star in the Milky Way, another 100-billion-fold energy increase. As a Type 3 we will traverse the galaxy and will, along the way, meet many other technologically advanced civilizations.

A Type 4 civilization will harness dark and extra-galactic energy. Such a civilization would be unrecognizable to us as such because it would be indistinguishable from the Universe itself. Would we evolve into pure energy? Would a Type 4 civilization be immortal and omnipotent.

…to attain Type 4 we will reach much further into the future, to 12000 A.D. At that point we will have transcended the physical reality of our Universe and may even have poked through to parallel universes in the multiverse.

Sounds delusional? Remember where human civilization’s technological achievements were in 1000 A.D. What would a person living in that time think of the world in which we live today? Magical? Incomprehensible? One thing we know for sure, technological breakthroughs that at one time took a century to achieve, now can happen in a year. It remains true that some technologies are harder to crack, like developing fusion energy. But today we are much closer to achieving that fusion breakthrough that alone will move us faster to becoming a Type 1 civilization. And after that will the rest unfold?

Will Humans Achieve a Type 1 Civilization by 2100? | h+ Magazine         

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What happens in a world, or at least a nation, where most of the population lives semi-comfortably (by historical standards) off a basic income, supplemented by occasional temporary gigs, thanks to the economic output of tomorrow’s technology; a small middle class works at the diminishing number of jobs which can’t be handled by technology; and a smaller-yet minority of the ultra-rich actually design the tech, and/or live off their inheritances a la Piketty? Call it a “low-scarcity” future, as opposed to the full-on Singularitarian “post-scarcity” future.

It seems to me that such a world would be extremely fertile ground for the rise of — you guessed it — a reputation economy. The key is that it wouldn’t outright replace a traditional monetary economy, at least not for some quite considerable time; rather, it would begin to thrive parallel to, and independent of, its capitalistic counterpart. Eventually, though, as I’ve argued before, since we are fundamentally social creatures, in the long run, “at some point it will be better to be awesome than to be rich.”

* this feeds nicely into that Star Trek as LARP idea ( The Star Fleet ranks as a reputation economy. Social capital etc.

I like to think on a good day that’s what we’re doing in these spaces. Bootstrappin’ the internet into a Type 1 Civ communication system. Negotiating a new culture, a new societal operating system. Eating the old world. Folding in the machines. Neotany on a global scale. Cyborg Gaia.

We definitely need new mythologies, patched out of whatever is at hand.


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And now, a message from Station Management… Just in case you’re wondering who the audience really is for Multiverse TV Somewhere around and a bit past Type 3, you are essentially talking about all-powerful, multi-dimensional beings of pure light. And given the relatively brief timescales involved, the Kardashev Scale actually provides a neat solve for The […]

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Pitching a Metafictional Planetary Rescue Squad

Like many people I recently binge watched House of Cards. For me that meant the show in its entirety, because I’d quickly dismissed the remake as being far inferior to the supremely Machiavellian original series. But I was convinced to revisit it in light of the second series being dropped, and much recommendation of the first.

What hooked me early on was the backdrop of Energy Politics. Underwood trying to free himself from grip of the Big Oil lobbyists. Scheming to get renewable energy seriously deployed.

Playing chess with the evil billionaire, being a personification of the corrupt nature of Nuclear Power. And the complications involved in securing the rare earth minerals on which solar power, not to mention laptops and smart phones, depend.

Here, I thought, is a show that’s not just about power and politics, but seriously examining a civilisation in phase shift. Moving towards becoming a Type 1 Civilisation. Showing how the fingers of the energy cartels grip the corridors of power, and how that grip might be slipped and a new future born. A bright green future.

Here, I thought, just might be a mundane, contemporary set counterpart to Dracula. While the immediate fantastic comparison was Game of Thrones, just maybe the Fincher led remake was attempting to do more than portray primate politics, but also examine the nature of change on a global scale. Its price; its bloody at all costs, whatever it takes, do not back down, we are hijacking this reality and taking it to its scheduled destination, because we are beyond good and evil actors so don’t mind the ledger.

Nope, that’s just Dracula.

Spoiler: Underwood becomes President at the end of season 2.

The image above is the end moment of the current continuity. Newly minted President Underwood, who’s completed his move from House Whip, through Vice President to now Leader of the Free World TM, without a single vote from Amerika’s citizens. Punching the desk. Keeping his knuckles hard. Ready to defend his place at the top of the primate tree against any attackers.

No closer to overcoming Type 0 Civilisation problems. In fact, he’s the chief cause.

And how did the most weighty of recommendations describe this show? “Because primates.”

(Welcome to 2014: Obama loved this show.)

Because this is #Multiverse TV we turn to considering an expanded metafictional universe. Made all the more possible because if his lawyers are any good, Fincher should have to the rights to make this real (having directed The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and presumably optioned the rest, and healming the (completely unnecessary) Utopia remake).

This was my immediate reaction:

Upon further reflection, in composing this entry, it seems even better to go completely nuts and pitch a 21st Century Planetary Rescue Squad.

The ultimate team up of Nietzschean, ubermensch characters to face off against the biggest, baddest, schemiest primate… a man that shits on the future, and holds all the cards.

The President of the US is something to be overcome.

  • we start with Lisbeth Salander joining Gavin Orsay, his furry familiar, Cashew, gnawing on the bleeding face of that FBI agent that had him literally, and his guardian, underfoot.
  • Salander reaches out to newly styled, no longer woolly jumper wearing, Sarah Lund of Forbrydelsen (The Killing), last seen boarding a plane to bring a billionaire to justice.
  • she in turn reaches out to her compatriot Scandinavian detective of Bron|Broen (The Bridge) fame, Saga Norén.
  • Luther and his gas masking wearing companion, Dr. Alice Morgan, were already hanging out at the Salander Icelandic base, so they’re in.
  • and it just happens that Alice started up a correspondence with a certain reformed serial killer that’s wandering around Alaska, looking for a mission beyond not ruining his family’s life; one Dexter Morgan.
  • And just as their introduction meeting is concluding, through a flash of arc lightening, John Connor and liquid metal Shirley Manson drop back through time, to destroy the past and save the future… again.
  • and lastly, Tesla Boy Gangster himself, Alexander Grayson III (aka Dracula), steps out of the shadows.

[Pose like a Team graphic PENDING]

And the plot computes itself…

…but if you wanna pay me Fincher, call me baby!

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Mars-crossers that are also Earth-crossers or grazers

These objects are not catalogued as Mars-crossers in databases such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s online Small-body Database Browser. Instead, they are categorized as Near Earth Objects (NEOs).

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“For about two years, I had the coolest job title in NASA: manager of the interstellar propulsion research project.”

Johnson’s team determined that the most practical path to the stars was via solar sails, which required fewer scientific breakthroughs than fusion-powered nuclear engines or exotic propulsion methods like warp drive. Ultra-thin sails would use the faint but constant pressure of sunlight or high-powered lasers to propel them to a few percent of the speed of light. (NASA plans to launch a 124-foot solar sail, called Sunjammer after a sail in an Arthur C. Clarke novel, in 2015, although it will stay well within the bounds of the solar system.) “Sailships are the only way we know to get to velocities that are anywhere close to the speed of light,” Gregory Benford, another physicist/sci-fi author, tells the Starship Congress attendees.

Yet even with this relatively reasonable-sounding technology, the problems are so vast that we won’t be sailing to the stars anytime soon. Johnson says that to propel a craft to Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system, a solar sail would have to be as big as the state of Alabama, and would need a millennium to travel the 4.3-light-year distance. Change the power source from solar radiation to terawatt-scale lasers and you could cut the travel time to a century. The big drawback? Such a system would require power “equivalent to the total output of humanity today,” Johnson says.

Lubin acted as conference contrarian, frequently asking presenters pointed questions about their proposed technologies. But he also offered up his own sci-fi-sounding project: a planetary defense system that could double as a solar sail’s power source, using beamed energy to propel an unmanned probe to the stars.

The system would collect sunlight with miles-wide solar arrays in Earth orbit and convert it to a beam of energy, similar to a giant laser. Lubin says that over a year, such a beam could completely vaporize a threatening asteroid a third of a mile (1,760 feet) wide at a range of one astronomical unit—the distance from Earth to the sun (93 million miles)—and deflect much larger ones. “It wouldn’t require any miracles, just a lot of hard work,” he says. Such a system could start on a much smaller scale—big enough to zap space debris, perhaps—then be expanded as engineering and funding allow.

If used to propel starships, the energy beam could boost probes to substantial speeds, Lubin says. A 100-kilogram (220-pound) probe with a 100-foot reflector to catch the beam could reach Mars in three days; with a much larger reflector, such a probe could hit three percent of lightspeed—up to 20 million mph—by the time it reached the edge of the solar system in less than a month.

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“Alien Electromagnetic Signals Will Be Discovered by 2040” –SETI’s Chief Astronomer

Writing in Acta Astronautica, Shostak says that the odds favour detecting such alien AI rather than “biological” life. Seti researchers have long argued that nature may have solved the problem of life using different designs or chemicals, suggesting extraterrestrials would not only not look like us, but that they will not be carbon based life forms, but be bound to follow “at least some rules of biochemistry, live for a finite period of time, procreate, and above all be subject to the processes of evolution.”

“If you look at the timescales for the development of technology, at some point you invent radio and then you go on the air and then we have a chance of finding you,” he told BBC News.“But within a few hundred years of inventing radio – at least if we’re any example – you invent thinking machines; we’re probably going to do that in this century. So you’ve invented your successors and only for a few hundred years are you… a ‘biological’ intelligence.”

From a probability point of view, if AI-powered machines evolved, we would be more likely to spot signals from them than from the “biological” life that invented them.

“But having now looked for signals for 50 years, Seti is going through a process of realizing the way our technology is advancing is probably a good indicator of how other civilisations – if they’re out there – would’ve progressed. Certainly what we’re looking at out there is an evolutionary moving target.”

Dr Shostak says that artificially intelligent alien life would be likely to migrate to places where both matter and energy – the only things he says would be of interest to the machines – would be in plentiful supply. That means the Seti hunt may need to focus its attentions near hot, young stars or even near the centers of galaxies.

“I think we could spend at least a few percent of our time… looking in the directions that are maybe not the most attractive in terms of biological intelligence but maybe where sentient machines are hanging out.” Shostak thinks SETI ought to consider expanding its search to the energy- and matter-rich neighborhoods of hot stars, black holes and neutron stars.

Data centers like this generate a lot of heat, and keeping them cool is a major challenge for modern computing. Intelligent computers would likely seek out a low-temperature habitat. Bok globules (image at top of page) are another search target for sentient machines. These dense regions of dust and gas are notorious for producing multiple-star systems. At around negative 441 degrees Fahrenheit, they are about 160 degrees F colder than most of interstellar space.

This climate could be a major draw because thermodynamics implies that machinery will be more efficient in cool regions that can function as a large “heat sink”. A Bok globule’s super-cooled environment might represent the Goldilocks Zone for the AI powered machines, says Shostak. But because black holes and Bok globules are not hospitable to life as we know it, they are not on SETI’s prime target list.

“Machines have different needs,” he says. “They have no obvious limits to the length of their existence, and consequently could easily dominate the intelligence of the cosmos. In particular, since they can evolve on timescales far, far shorter than biological evolution, it could very well be that the first machines on the scene thoroughly dominate the intelligence in the galaxy. It’s a “winner take all” scenario.”

“Alien Electromagnetic Signals Will Be Discovered by 2040” –SETI’s Chief Astronomer

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