Someday, when almost everyone is connected to almost everyone else via the Internet, I would argue that humans will have evolved into a single collective organism for all practical purposes. It would be much like the way individual cells of your body are united as one human.

Sure, humans aren't physically connected to each other, but neither are the atoms in your body if you shrink down to their level and take a look. You'd see more empty space in your body than matter. So proximity doesn't seem to be relevant to the definition of a living entity. It has more to do with how the parts communicate and act in a generally shared purpose for survival. Thus, when humans are linked via a central nervous system called the Internet, we can call humanity a newly evolved creature.

Humanity will eventually develop the scientific wherewithal to create new worlds, create new life, and manipulate existing life. And humanity will be immortal for all practical purposes, as long as it diversifies its parts across multiple planets, which seems likely.

If science progresses at a normal pace, it seems inevitable that we would someday terraform a planet and seed it with life designed to evolve. Prepping new planets for our eventual colonization might be part of our long term plan for survival. We'll always need more real estate if we keep reproducing. And it is the only way this new entity called humanity can reproduce.

Once we future humans get rolling with all the terraforming and seeding planets with life, we'll probably repeat the process thousands of times over millions of years. And that brings us to the interesting part. Logically, it is far more likely we are the product of previous human tinkering than it is likely we are the original humans who start it all. There can be only one first planet of humans, but there will be (or has been) thousands of subsequent versions that are essentially man-made.

So even if you assume a traditional God exists, it is far more likely that your more proximate creator is people. And even if you believe in evolution, it is far more likely we are a human designed version than the very first version.

And the odds that somewhere there is at least one planet inhabited with some version of advanced humans is very high indeed, for there is no rational reason to believe we are the first of what will be thousands to come. It's more likely we are somewhere in the middle of the process.

[Note: Yes, I know all of the individual ideas in this post are borrowed from places such as the old TV show Firefly, Boltzmann's Brains, my own book God's Debris, and more. But you probably haven't seen them all together. I hope.]

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Feb 6, 2009
Great topic - pursuing this more should take you to the work of Howard Bloom or the principia cybernetica web or Robert Wright's book "Non-zero," or many other similar works.

I agree with several of the above posters that human colonization would start other planets out at the same tech level, though. Besides, ape evolution is convincing enough to posit a direct evolution on this planet - considering we have the same cells and genes as other animals on the planet (we share the same gene for a nose, for instance, with dogs) we probably call this place home. At the same time, I love where your going, I just think we are the first iteration of humans - WE will be the ones to seed everyone else.

There is an argument for why that is that gets beyond proximal forces of survival, though. Humans aren't cancer because humans are JUST like cells in the body - the logical extension of what happens when a system comes together into a higher-level organism (we create a super-organism). Because people can't understand this through traditional evolutionary narratives, our newfound sense of control and impact is scary. Yet following this logic through (the logic of the second law of thermodynamics: that order rises locally even as if declines universally) gives us cause for hope. Just as molecules spun from atoms, cells were given life from intert molecules and social superorganisms arose from humans, higher-order systems are not only inevitable, it's the path of least resistance for organizations of energy and matter (over shorter and shorter spans of time). We will also divide on other planets and eventually form a trans-planetary consciousness that will make the UNIVERSE god. That is our purpose. Facilitate human interconnection and cooperation so that we might spread out into higher-and-higher systems. No room for long-term boredom or endgames; we don't know what will happen at the highest level of living systems!
Feb 6, 2009
Scott Adams, I knew not that you were a browncoat. Cool post.
Feb 6, 2009
Hmm... we are "human-designed"? If I could create any sort of creatures I wanted, just for fun, I dang sure wouldn't create creatures that looked like me. I'd create some totally different creatures. Therefore, if we are the creation of some other organism, it seems unlikely that these other organisms are "human," as we know it.

Secondly, where are they? I realize that there are some nuts who believe that aliens have aready come to Earth, but given the quality of the "evidence" they put forward to prove this, I think it's safe to say that they are all crackpots. (Please correct me on this if and only if you have some real evidence.) Therefore, it seems to me that one of two things must be true: either we are not yet mature enough to warrant a visit, or we are a bad batch. I suppose that it is also possible that we were just left here for no good reason, but that option doesn't include any benefit for the creator, so clearly that's just dumb. If we are a bad batch, then the creators are better than us in some manner. How, then, are they different from God?
Feb 6, 2009
Here's a fun theory:

Assume that all orbits decay gradually over time...which I imagine they do. Too many little insignificant things could alter the Earth's trajectory, even if they were so minor that we never knew. That would mean that every planet in the solar system is not simply spinning around the sun, but is actually spiraling toward it very very gradually.

Now assume that Earth gets so close that it becomes uninhabitable. Where do we go? Mars seems the most habitable. It has also gradually gotten closer to the sun, making the surface temperatures a good bit higher, and also causing who knows how many other odd things to happen...like somehow the birth of an atmosphere, which (together) would allow ice to melt. Water is necessary for all life, so we relocate to this now habitable planet, abandoning Earth.

What would we take with us? Probably nothing. Over those many many years, we have gradually learned that a planet itself is much better at sustaining life without our help (or hinderance). Plus, we have a brand spankin' new planet to travel to and would (hopefully) be wise enough not to carry our garbage there with us.

What do we leave behind? A planet that has gradually gotten hotter and hotter, has been stripped of most resources, and is now completely uninhabitable.

Now reverse the theory....is Venus an ancient Earth?

The planets them selves could progress in a pattern where each one's characteristics actually are controlled by their distance from the sun, meaning they gradually take one another's place. Mercury would eventually be swallowed by the sun. Venus would get so much closer that all hints of atmosphere were destroyed, leaving it nothing more than a rock floating around the sun. Earth took Venus's place. Mars took Earth's place. Much of Jupiter's gas mass has been slowly lifted away by increased gravity from the sun. Saturn's orbit has changed, causing its rings to be spread around the planet like one huge cloud.

Hey, it could happen. Each planet would become like the next one in line toward the sun, putting them into a constant (albeit extremely slow-moving) system. Everything has a system.

The best part, we would have no way of knowing. The changes would be so incredibly gradual that any record of the previous events would be long lost. Our civilization would advance to the point that it can move to the next planet, but starts over as a super-simplistic society. We go from a society that has become insanely lazy and bored (because we finally reached the point where we didn't have to do anything for ourselves) to actually working to survive on our new planet. That's right, we took nothing with us and had to live in caves...painting on the walls.

And henceforth, this theory shall be known as Planetary Degradation and Replacement Theory
(or Ctrl-Alt-Del-Earth)

On a seperate note, one of my favorite drawings of Calvin and Hobbes shows them looking at a tree stump surrounded by discarded cans. Calvin says something along the lines of "sometimes I think the best proof that there is intelligent life in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us."
Feb 6, 2009
Yeah but what about the speed of light? Once we colonize Mars aren't we pretty much out of planet raw material within range of our lifetimes?
Feb 6, 2009
Wow, I've had roughly the same idea. Except I thought of the earth world and its ecosystem as more of the collective organism. In my analogy, this pretty much makes humans the cancer. And if you look at the universe as the organism, then the cancer's trying to metastasize.
Feb 6, 2009
"Based on your premise, terraforming is done to create a planet that can be used to alleviate the poplutation limitations. Therefore, if this planet of humans was created by another planet of humans, it was to give them room for their own people. So either something went hideously wrong after these advanced beings terraformed this planet, which caused them to lose all advanced knowlege and start over as cave men, or they started the process and something caused them to never return. In any case, until we find that second planet of humans, I don't think it's a logical assumption that they're out there - intelligent life yes, humans, no. Who knows, humans might have been an accident on this planet - maybe dolphins did the terraforming. There's sure a lot of ocean."

That is pretty much what I came here to say. You say there is "no reason" to believe we are the first iteration of humans. Um, sure there is, there's plenty of evidence that humans were not even close to the first life on this planet. So if the planet was terraformed, it wasn't by humans or humanoids, but by whoever came here first. I suppose humans could have found a planet that was suitable to their needs, so instead of evolution we just landed here, though if we were so super-advanced as to be able to fly through space and colonize, I don't think we'd start over as cave-people incapable of any form of recorded history. The entire idea that we're the descendents of super-advanced humans is on its face ridiculous because why the whole giant step backwards in evolution just to get there again?
Feb 6, 2009
area 51 has sprung a leak. I believe all of our tech advances are due to alien influences. And as far as earth being the dung heap of the solar system.... imagine a ufo landing and an alien emerging and saying "take me to your feces" id point him at GW Bush
Feb 6, 2009
I was going to say something along the lines of what Dilgal2 already stated. Makes no sense to me that humans would not just simply move to another planet bringing with them all the tecnology the already have.

Another point you make is that we will reach immortality simply by making sure that humans do not disappear as a species. "Prepping new planets for our eventual colonization might be part of our long term plan for survival."
...At least that is the way I understood it, if I am wrong please bare with me.

Is it really survival if you don´t get to see/live it? When you have a child he or she is 50% your DNA and yet she is not you. Her life is a separate entity. When you die, she will still be learning and experiencing things that you will not be able to claim as yours. This will keep happening as subsequent generations arrive.

And lets be honest.

Do you care what your decendant might be doing 400 years or 1000 years from now? You may be generally curious, as am I, but curiosity is not caring or loving. They will be different people with different realities. We will be long gone. So, unless you believe in an immortal soul, it doesn´t really matter. You will not get to see anything; so go have a beer and enjoy your weekend.

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Feb 6, 2009
Australia was originally settled as a penal colony. If you accept what you are proposing, then an interesting question comes up - What if Earth is the Australia of the Universe - And the rest of the inhabitted planets are all peaceful serene places.

And the rest of the universe will attempt to shoot down any craft leaving the solar system...

Yes we would be the Australia of the solar system - But at some point we get the universal equivalent of Olivia Newton John - so thats not all bad...
Feb 6, 2009
Firefly is already considered and old TV show?!>!?

I was about to argue that humans connected by the internet are often trying to kill each other - any war you can think of has people on both sides on the internet - but then I realized that cells in the body kill each other too - immune cells killing cancer cells, for example. So the analogy works, except there are multiple immune systems, each of which think the other is cancerous.
Feb 6, 2009
"So even if you assume a traditional God exists, it is far more likely that your more proximate creator is people."

Yes- I call them "Mom" and "Dad".
Feb 6, 2009
Whatever you're smokin', I want some.
Feb 6, 2009
In listing things you cribbed* from, you missed Isaac Asimov's The Last Question. Highly recommended narrative form of the same idea.


*I have no idea if you've ever read it, but the similarity is obvious.
Feb 6, 2009
They filtered out the properly spelled form of cawk-roachez?
Feb 6, 2009
The first thing we need to do is find a way to make it profitable enough to have people living in space.
Once the cost of getting (and keeping) people off Earth is overshadowed by the profitability, anyone with enough bucks will do it. That alone will cause enough money to be poured into R&D to get us able to live in a vacuum.

I've also thought about, until we figure this out, we should launch tons of compost and organic garbage (rats, !$%*!$%*!$% and all) at Mars. If anything will survive on Mars, it's the tenacious creepy crawlies and bacteria, and whether they do or not, each heap of crud, sitting there decomposing, will probably result in soil more fertile than before, if not slowly begin the steps of creating an ecosystem.
Feb 6, 2009
I love this topic. It has been my contention for many years that interconnecting the human race will vastly change our intentions and direction as a species. It is my belief that this is the only possible force big enough to galvanize us together in order to meet the challenges of lifestyle changes needed to keep us from roasting and/or freezing our species as the climate changes. Like Gil Scott Heron said, "The Revolution will not be Televised," and so far it has not been, thank goodness.
Feb 6, 2009
Oh, I get it. This has a swear word filter that filters stuff that is nowhere near a swear word. In memory of George Carlin, here are the seven !$%*!$%*!$%*!$% piss, !$%*! !$%*! !$%*!$%*!$% !$%*!$%*!$%*! and !$%*!$%*!$%* the rephrased eaten up sentence:

What would a god-like creature do in such situation?
Feb 6, 2009
The comment system mangled my previous comment. The mangled phrase should read:

What would a god-like creature do in such !$%*!$%*!$%*!$
Feb 6, 2009
My theory goes a bit further. Imagine mankind evolving for some millions of years more. You become a super intelligent entity, and capable of absorbing all knowledge. What a bore! No more challenges!

What would a god-like creature do in such !$%*!$%*!$%*!$ Transplant its own consciousness onto a more constrained universe. Perhaps a blue planet. Moreover, do it at an interesting social evolutionary point. At a time where the race would be approaching the Kurzweil Singularity, perhaps?

And then, it would plant some clues for its memory constrained version to pickup along its adventure...

(yeah, this does conclude I'm god - hopefully without sounding too crazy)
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