100 thoughts on “Self-Replicating Robots and Galactic Domination | Space Time | PBS Digital Studios

  1. What if an alien AI were capable of estimating the probability of a system like ours to develop complex life from a very early point in its development, and therefore left a Bracewell probe, but otherwise marked it as "appendages off" to resource harvesting/replication? An ETI (whether biologically based or not) that had been developing science and exploring space for a thousand years longer than we have would have a database and capabilities we couldn't begin to guess at; we can't imagine what humans will be capable of in that span of time, let alone something that didn't evolve on Earth. I still think Arthur C. Clarke had the best guess at how discovering we weren't alone in the universe might go.

  2. Honestly? My impression would be that any advanced society capable of surviving the intergalactic void of space to find a new galaxy to inhabit would need to know where the galaxy was, and what shape it was in by the time they got to meet the galaxy that was admittedly at least hundreds of light years away. To be an interstellar society capable of using the laws of physics to accomplish these events in an intergalactic version of a seed ship – you would still need to be incredibly efficient. This efficiency dooms our attempts to find their existence in the first place. There would be no leakage of gravity waves from manipulated neutron stars captured in what ever type of Dyson-sphere containment you would need to capture the entire spectrum of radiation needed to drive the ship into space at any fraction of the speed of light in any meaningful rate that we could notice.

    Any society capable of moving themselves into the vast regions of space between galaxies to become a member of the Universal community, would need to be capable of using gravity and energy in configurations we can not fathom at this time. Why would you need to be conscious if you were going to be going through nothing until you go to your destination. This brings the most crucial argument to bear on our attempts to study space for intelligent life. We always assume it has our metabolic rate. If an alien species had the ability to move at the metabolic rate of a hummingbird, they may use gravity waves instead of electricity to manipulate solid state machines we can't even notice. The aspect could also be thrown in the opposite direction where we ourselves have a metabolism that is so fast, that any creature working on a geologic scale of time for it's consciousness would see us as a disease, not an intelligent life form. We would see them as planets with curious geology, not people. The real attempt of ours is to assume we can imagine something truly different from ourselves and make a connection to a truly alien species.

    The third consideration is that earlier, I stated that aliens might not be awake during their trip, so my question is, how could you possibly attempt to contact a sleeping species travelling in a dormant state until it arrived at it's destination? We see viruses and bacteria going into a dormant state during conditions where it proves to be hostile, and can at times survive for millions of years to be hatched and completely viable again under the right conditions. This could also be true for a complex alien life form we don't know how to recognize because of our own lack of materials available to our own species.

  3. Perhaps our technology is the rare component. So rare that the signals expected are as such. There may be a galaxy teeming with life similar to ours, but without our sort of technological evolution. I will remind the audience that we as human beings have not changed in nature, while technology has tremendously. I'm also inclined by our very nature, that we were "introduced" and not evolved as a species. We don't fit in, as natural species do. If indeed we are a product of natural selection, it spells lethal consequences to our race, since technology will outstrip or overtake our humanity. Human beings are extremely conceited and misplace optimism with a bravado, not really grounded in reality. The reality we created from an imperfect creation is our downfall.

  4. Is it completely absurd to say that life itself as it has evolved on earth is perhaps the solution to Von Neuman probes that a previously ancient civilization has already devised?

  5. Wait…why should earlier civs have been able to cross the galaxy by now? Wanna explain that, PBS? Are we just assuming there's a way to travel FTL? Or do the top secret factions of humanity know something more?

  6. Just because you can, doesn't mean that you should.

    A self-replicating machine spreading across the galaxy is potentially very dangerous.
    It is very possible that a civilization with such a technology could simply ban its use and even create technology to destroy such machines.

    Let's suppose that someone invents a time machine. Where are all the time travellers? If a time machine is going to be invented in the future, we should have already seen evidence of many time travellers in the past.
    But there is no such evidence. The most likely answer is that sooner or later, someone would use the time machine to travel back in time to undo all the modifications in the timeline done by the first traveller.
    Sooner or later someone would use the time machine to go back in time to stop the construction of the time machine in the first place, to prevent ANY modifications in the timeline.

    The galaxy and the whole universe is probably teeming with advanced civilizations.
    But it is very possible that they are all trying to be as discreet as possible on purpose. They may trying to be as invisible and silent as possible on purpose.
    Why? Because most of these civilizations can be potentially hostile.
    If you are surrounded by potentially hostile civilizations, your only chance of survival would be to as discreet as possible.

  7. Simple. According to anthropic principle – if such machines were developed (totally regardless of the supposedly high likelyhood of their development!) – we would not be here to ask ANY question at all, not only the question about the missing probes. Because the probes would have consumed our planet and we could not have emerged here. So any other galaxy may be full of the probes, but ours must be likely empty, even if just because of any combination of unlikely chances. These chances are all essentially part of the even bigger set of chances that enabled us to be there. There can usually be only one von neumann probe building civilisation, and with no other younger civilisations around it in a galaxy. Since we are here, it means the probes did not happen in our galaxy, regardless of their general likelihood in other galaxies. Lucky us.

  8. I’m not a scientist but here’s my theory. We know that for life to exist it has to be in a solar system that has at least a second generation star. Our Sun has a life span of about 9 billion years and is about 4.5 billion years old. If we assume that the first generation sun lasted 9 billion years plus 4.5 billion years that’s a total of 13.5 billion years for us to evolve. Considering that the universe is only 13.8 billion years old we are probably the first or amongst the first sentient being in the universe.

  9. Why would someone be interested in building a self replicating robot that would go too far to communicate and destroy potential life there? And Terra forming would make sense only if we can travel there which you start by stating it is likely too difficult. Maybe more advanced civilizations are more clever than us and don't spend time and resources on useless stuff?

  10. Probably in our galaxy, there are high-tech-capable creatures or entities with organizational structures, leading to the ability to create the virus-like probes described here. Now, "the great filter" works to eliminate war-like and otherwise aggressive forms of life. So wouldn't very advanced intelligences NOT desire to just eat-up all available resources within its conceivable reach?

  11. Perhaps it's because in this particular iteration of the multi-verse humans are the only sentient beings in the universe. In another slice of the multi-verse the galaxy is teeming with life.

  12. Since this video, the US has come out and said that advance aerial craft (UFO"s) have been visiting the Earth. Maybe these are the Von Neumann craft that this video mentioned.

  13. Imagine: humanity launches a nanobot cluster within a small rocket, accelerated to near light speed, towards a star system. It locates a plane found within the system's Goldilocks zone, and drops the nanobots on the surface. Once there, they convert the atoms into metals and other substances to build more nanobots, and in the process convert the planet into an environment able to sustain life. Large molecules are broken up into oxygen gas, and others into soil and liquid water. Hundreds of years later, a sub-light speed generation ship arrives on a planet ripe for being colonized.

  14. Intergalactic nanobot infestation with haywire AI .. welcome to the future ? Advanced civilisation might already have simulated this doom scenario and abandoned the idea long ago

  15. The real problem is that these arguments are made based on some serious assumptions. For example, the assumption that one of every thousand planets has life and one out of thousand of those planets with life have intelligent life could be very very far off the true number. Until we observe at least one other planet with life, assumptions about the probability of life on other planets is nothing more than speculation.

  16. It has be done. Some civilization sent out von Neumann probes, yeah. And they replicated. But this civilization had neighbors which were not amused about that. Alien probes using up your own resources? That's aggressive and intentional pollution! We can't tolerate this! Let's hunt them down! Let's build our own von Neumann machines, which go out searching for this threat. Our machines are allowed only to replicate twice in any system where no guard was present before. The 'parent' will stay in-system to guard it against incoming probes and destroy them at sight, the children will travel to neighboring systems until they find one without any guard so far.
    That was the end of the von Neumann probes epoch, long ago.

  17. Populating the galaxy, you mean contaminating the galaxy. No advanced civilisations would behave so recklessly

  18. 'assume 10% light speed', he seems no idea how virtually impossible is it. lol…. you should assume 0.1% light speed at most.

  19. This guy desperately wants the Earth to be special. We can’t possibly assume how aliens would behave. His line of thinking is very limited to a human perspective.

  20. Only one civilization per galaxy. The universe is big enough for that. And the galaxy is going the be the only universe we are left with in the end anyway.

    Why only one civilization you might ask? To build the Home-World. An artificial home ship built from all the materials harvested from the Milky Way, that will make any dyson sphere pale in comparison and into which we will voyage into the final Void.

    Let the gods tremble in their heavens, for the stars belong to us!

  21. The closer we get to being capable of producing von Neumann probes, the higher the odds we will come into contact with another civilization's probes.

  22. This has already been done in the Galaxy eons ago. The AI Signal is not even from this dimension of the Universe. It invaded. Whoever (originally) created it intended it to be something likened to a "quantum fractal computer virus."

    There are regressive alien and AI networks connected and setup all throughout the Galaxy in many different conquered star solar systems who fell victim to the AI agenda.

    If Man is not careful with his makings, he too will bear witness to the destruction of everything he has created like so many others who have came before him. 😐

  23. If self replicating robots go from planet to planet, & replicate, they would need to have the materials to reproduce.
    The first thing they would have to do is build an aluminum smelting factory, & an electronics production facility……..
    Which leads to the question, where did they get the material to build the factory. ?

  24. We already have, and from years ago, 3D Printers that can print most of their own parts. Yeah people do that take another person idea and make it their own, well as long as good ideas are done, I'm OK, eventually you get recognized for what you're capable of. I'd like for Humanity to build large sustainable towers right beneath the Auroras and give Humanity energy for ever; we also have Volcanic, wave and geothermal we haven't done anything to take advantage of them.
    The Van Annoying Me Probes: they should have a control pattern, if enough are built for a good communication and safety of humanity, then [>STOP<] freaking building copies, besides people will want to give them AI and then Galactic Skynet and then we're all screwed otherwise.
    Writing about spaceships and travel, have you played the game Freespace? hard-light.net

  25. What if the aliens who built von Neumann probes allowed for them to detect signs of life & then steer away from such places? Also, if & when we can build such things, I can think of some pretty good uses: 1) terraforming 2) carbon sequestering 3) custom-built specialty materials with novel properties 4) asteroid mining 5) fuel production on ice bodies. 6) Toxic cleanup. Rikki Tikki.

  26. What if we are the first? What if life is introduced into the universe because of our contamination of it?

  27. Good vid. Among other things, the best re-work of Drake's equation and the Fermi paradox I've seen.
    West Coast (AFL) for premiers 2019.

  28. The issue is efficiency, with all of physics and AI research suddenly showing keen interest in thermodynamics in particular, which has turned out to have the same mathematics as Relativity. Watching the night sky is akin to watching a pot of water boil, with the implication that we require a quantum mechanical theory of Relativity, because heat is an emergent effect of quantum mechanics. For example, the rotation of the galaxies has turned out to express the Schrodinger equation, and both its double spirals and its rotation can be calculated as a morphogenic field, which treats energy and information as forming fields similar to electricity and magnetism. What all that implies is that information does not get around in the manner in which we normally assume, and humanity may have to leave the solar system before we can encounter evidence of alien life.

  29. One option is that there were technological lifeforms and then their 45th president disbanded their science departments before they could build self-replicating machines of such complexity

  30. This is one reason why I think we should be very careful about broadcasting our existence. Any existing galactic civilization will be well aware of how quickly an up-and-coming species like ours could contaminate the entire galaxy. If they detect us, I think it's more likely that they'll send an extermination team than a welcoming team.

  31. Author Fred Saberhagen came up with a similar idea decades ago: The berserker machines, which are some of the scariest things any sci-fi writer ever dreamed up.

  32. I'm sure some civilization somewhere in our galaxy has tried this at some point, but once these self replicating robots were discovered by a more mature species the more mature species would get rid of them root and stem. Creating self replicating robots to liter, pollute, and mine resources throughout the universe is going to piss off the other advanced species which are living in the systems that get invaded by these robots. That's why we don't see them. Its likely to be in violation of inter-galactic laws.

  33. It's funny how he makes it sound like the main goal of human civilization existence is making a Von Neumann probe and thus filling the Space with artificial waste. And making these probes seem to be an extremely easy and natural idea. Perhaps cave men looked at the sky wishing to send something amidst the stars.

  34. I hope everyone realizes that Fermi's Paradox will be solved the instant we build self-replicating, extensible robots or von Neumann probes and start flinging them hither and yon. The Galactic Uplift Council who've been observing us quietly and (relatively) unobtrusively will tear up their Prime Directive and the rest of the galaxy will read with their morning stimulant beverage of how young and hopeful planetary civilization was destroyed by the use of a causality violation device which caused their sun to explode without warning.
    Building self-replicating von Neumann probes would be stupid beyond belief. They say you can't cure stupid. Well…

  35. Self replicating machines could replicate DNA and leave evolution to do its job. It’s not an answer to abiogenesis but it could be an answer to life spreading throughout our universe.

  36. or maybe they are heaps of technology advanced of civilisation in this galaxy but they came here looked at our " advanced" civilisation ??? and went
    "nahh there is no intelligent life down here,beam me up scotty"

  37. Your answer to the Fermi Paradox, as is commonly given, is – in a nutshell – the following : "It only takes one guy in one civilisation to build a self-replicating probe, for the whole Galaxy to be swarming with them in 10 million years. Since we can't see these probes around us, that means that as of 10 million years ago such a guy had never not existed in our galaxy". This argument, however, rests on the assumption that there is no interaction between space faring civilisations. I find this assumption quite implausible. Surely, if several space faring civilisations roam around the galaxy, they would enter into contact with each other, and would then either fight or collaborate – and not simply ignore each other. Either way, a single dominant galactic "etiquette" would emerge. And that etiquette my very well be to leave nascent civilisations like ours undisturbed … until it becomes mature enough to join the galactic society.

  38. Considering that even the closest asteroids are buzzy blobs in the most powerful telescopes, I find it just as likely that they’re out there, we just can’t see them. Why put the probe in where life could evolve when the Oort Cloud is full of nice fusible hydrogen and a has a nice view of the whole system?

  39. Self replicating robots would need the raw materials to replicate, such as aluminum & silicon to make circuits. The get these materials, they would need to first make an aluminum & semi-conductor factory. Which leads to the question, where do they get the materials to build these factories.?

  40. Maybe they are out there somewhere and know how to hide. Therefore none would be detected. Asteroids, comets, meteors and so on are known to exist some could have hidden sensors to send information in some way we do not know how to detect to whoever sent them. Why would they send out something they figured something else could detect? They might figure out something else might be hostile and they would not want a disadvantage.

  41. What if alien space craft are actually already being monitored for some time but these information are covered up / not accesible? Go and read The Ring Makers of Saturn by Norman R. Bergrun a well known scientist and behold how the theory of why didn't we find them yet seems to be quite bullshit.

  42. At least you got off the overly optimistic ratios for other life.

    Many years ago I came up with a similar idea. A network of self replicating probes that covertly branch out across the universe and examine what's out there, safely. The word is covert, in order to stop the existence of the probes from being discovered or traced back. Their existence is never publically revealed or broadcast at home either. A manufacturing multi directional launch site is situated at least two links removed from home. The seeding probes are produced in such a way as possible to be totally technologically, scientifically and culturally removed and purified, from what we have here and our identifying knowledge. Assumptions, time and other classification scales, and even the planetary magnetic field a probe is made in may provide clues to find it's origins. To avoid detection, a probe is sent on a round about course to a far system, where it sets up and manufactures a second different probe, which then goes to another far off system in a similarly covert way, and covertly sets up another manufacturing base, and so forth until you set up a base to produce a swarm of probes in all directions. Each system a probe from the swarm visits, it produces more probes early on for them to quickly depart to other systems. In a branching structure, data is passed back to the branch fork, or if not operational they communicate around it. Plus other communications protocols to covertly delay data back home. Using simple classification codes, the system and planets are described. Interesting finds are investigated by protocols to avoid detection, which means the probe might not get near a planet until it is determined to be too primitive to detect it. Maps are also produced, but the emphasis is to reduce data unless it is interesting. Even if a system is habitable, a survey of all possible potential life forms is needed over many lightyears to avoid eventual infection from debry drift. When probes come across the home system they would not recognise it and explore and observe it like any other system.

    If an alien race existed, the above covert system would be the only logically sensible way to do it, and hence, you are unlikely to detect such probes easily. But there is another reason. If you look at my description, it suites technology far beyond our own, in order to rapidly and safely surveil what is out there. But there is another reason why you are unlikely to detect such probes easily, for the very reasons we are unlikely to detect radio transmissions of advanced civilizations, if any, they simply may use some better alternative now we can not detect. Why send a fleet of probes out at 10% light speed, if you are going to have probes with warp fields, or something else, before they even finish 0.0001% of their task. Better to explore near by until you are able to go further faster.

    But using our slow technology, simply getting probes to replicate a probe for the next system firstly on arrival, is going speed up the plan in the video. But a honking great space telescope here within 10 years could let you see what's happening on other planets, and narrow your search quickly.

  43. To bring consciousness outside Earth, first we must build silicon based life form. A conscious, self replicating machine that viruses, toxic compounds, cosmic rays and radiation can't damage. That can hibernate on will and communicate via datastreams. The gray alien. Humans are animals whose symbiotic relationship with technology has given temporary domination of Earth biosphere. But we are doomed to stay just that, this is our filter.

  44. I would say the most likely option is the probes have life detectors on them and don't interfere with systems that have life. We try to do the same thing ourselves on Earth but are sadly too self-centred most of the time.

  45. I hate that dull person. Get someone with a bit more energy. And clearly they've run out of astronomy and cosmology to discuss.

  46. You forgot to mention all the factors that contribute to the likelihood of habitability and the process of evolution. For example, the position of Jupiter and its path to its current position, the role of the moon and tidal systems, the particular age of our solar system and it’s heavier elements, and our location in the outer edges of the galaxy. These factors could be a reason that we are one of the galaxy’s earliest technological species; life could begin to develop elsewhere, but our planet was influenced by a number of unlikely and advantageous circumstances.

  47. Would we know if WE are the self replicating intelligent machines of someone/thing and we've just not left this planet yet. Self replicating intelligent minds

  48. we are the von neuman probes.
    lowern your shields and surrender your materials.
    your materials will be assimilated to collective.

  49. Fails to consider politics into the equation. We could send hordes of robots, self-replicating or not, but have we? Nope. I'm sure alien politics are the same. They probably debated whether or not a threat was real enough to warrant a response until they went extinct.

  50. Interstellar space is bumpy. The assumed failure rate is way off. Maybe 1 success out of 1000? 10 million years is way too optimistic. The number of initial attempts would have to be in the billions. Small scale craft that travel at less than 1% of light speed might have more success. An interesting study to compare geometries. Perhaps probes are here already, we just don't see or recognize them as such. Of course, all of this assumes the superiority of physicality.

  51. When self replicating robots reach a destination, they will need materials to replicate, such as aluminum, & silicone chips, & rocket fuel to take them farther on their journey.
    Where will they get these materials.? They would have to build an aluminum factory, or a chip production facility…….
    Which leads to the question… where will they get the materials to build these factories.?

  52. Who’s to say we weren’t seeded here ourselves, what if humanity isn’t only earth dwellers and we are just a small percentage of human beings in the universe

  53. I like the comment "maybe we are the self replicating robots" ha makes sense!… or… maybe we are the first life form in this Universe. Next…

  54. If Von Neumann probes interest you, check out the Bobiverse Series by Dennis E. Taylor. They’re great books and the audiobook is hilariously entertaining! https://www.goodreads.com/series/192752-bobiverse

  55. I think the fact we have not found one is far from disproving them. If we can't even find a plane lost in our own backyard, nor see most of the asteroids in our system or so.. and if intelligence capable is common but rare.. any way there may be another reason. What I'd they are some how designed to be small or stealth? What if their ai is truly sentient and capable of being reallly careful. There are still so many alternatives to think the most probable is the idea most civilizations do succumb or that they are really not there.. maths still favour the chance they are at least some few in our neighborhood.. do they not? Maybe still .. if ai becomes sentient.. won't it be "life" ? Even if their makers are gone?

  56. Jesus could you imagine the absolute infatuation and panic if we suddenly linked up with a planet across the milky way sending us signals. "Are you human too? We just made it to our moon." and that'd be the message we get from THEM.

  57. This only proves that you can have a high IQ and still be a complete idiot. Aliens are here and prove of it is everywhere if you open your eyes just a little bit.

  58. What if humanity found a bunch of self replicating machines dominating a large portion of space and a cybernetic human took command over them

  59. Look at pictures of open pit mines then look at pictures of Miranda, one of the moons of Uranus. They were here long ago.

  60. Or . . . the lack of data evinced by the Fermi paradox is another hint that our universe is one of the stimulations? Or . . . despite the best intentions of the initial designers, von Neumann probes always evolve away from their initial programming and its goals, and develop more and more efficient ways of replicating themselves until their actions are indistinguishable from all of the other processes we see in the universe about us?

  61. Maybe they’re out there but they bypass star systems that already have life. And the goal should be to terraform the galaxy to have an abundance of habitable planets.

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