May 2nd, 2006



Why We Haven't Met Any Aliens
A radical explanation for a conundrum about extra-terrestrial life, and what it means for the future of humanity

В SEED magazine вышла статья-предостережение профессора эволюционной психологии, полная искренней боли за путь, выбираемый человечеством (точнее, наиболее развитыми цивилизациями)...Используя жанр антиутопии, автор показывает, как современные технологии меняют социально-психологический профиль современного человека, и как эти изменения отразятся на будущем цивилизации.

...The result is that we don't seek reproductive success directly; we seek tasty foods that have tended to promote survival, and luscious mates who have tended to produce bright, healthy babies. The modern result? Fast food and pornography. Technology is fairly good at controlling external reality to promote real biological fitness, but it's even better at delivering fake fitness—subjective cues of survival and reproduction without the real-world effects. Having real friends is so much more effort than watching Friends. Actually colonizing the galaxy would be so much harder than pretending to have done it when filming Star Wars or Serenity. The business of humanity has become entertainment, and entertainment is the business of feeding fake fitness cues to our brains....

...We have already shifted from a reality economy to a virtual economy, from physics to psychology as the value-driver and resource-allocator. We are already disappearing up our own brainstems. Our neurons over-stimulate each other, promiscuously, as our sperm and eggs decay, unused. Freud's pleasure principle triumphs over the reality principle. Today we narrow-cast human-interest stories to each other, rather than broadcasting messages of universal peace and progress to other star systems.
Maybe the bright aliens did the same. I suspect that a certain period of fitness-faking narcissism is inevitable after any intelligent life evolves. This is the Great Temptation for any technological species—to shape their subjective reality to provide the cues of survival and reproductive success without the substance. Most bright alien species probably go extinct gradually, allocating more time and resources to their pleasures, and less to their children

Full text
by Geoffrey Miller, May 1, 2006