The Technium

Undetectable Technology

[Translations: Japanese]

Karl Schroeder, science fiction author of the novel Permanence, writes about the Fermi Paradox. The Fermi Paradox says that if there is an infinite universe there must be an infinite number of civilizations at advance stages that would emit evidence of their presence, but as far as we see in any direction, there are none. The skies should be full of aliens, but are not. Why not?

Schroeder’s explanation is a re-phrasing of Arthur C. Clarke’s famous declaration that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Schroeder’s declares:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Nature. Basically, either advanced alien civilizations don’t exist, or we can’t see them because they are indistinguishable from natural systems. I vote for the latter.

That is interesting and a very plausible answer. Basically, we can’t detect really advance civilizations because their technology is so advanced that is operates in harmony with a planet, and it uses some kind of communication that looks like natural radiation, etc., to such an extant that it appears to not be there. The civilization acquires a sort of natural technological camouflage. Think Pandora in Avatar.

Green Planet by ivanraposo

[Green Planet image by Ivan Raposo]

But what Schroeder says afterwards is even more profound in terms of the technium.

If the Fermi Paradox is a profound question, then this answer is equally profound. It amounts to saying that the universe provides us with a picture of the ultimate end-point of technological development. In the Great Silence, we see the future of technology, and it lies in achieving greater and greater efficiencies, until our machines approach the thermodynamic equilibria of their environment, and our economics is replaced by an ecology where nothing is wasted. After all, SETI is essentially a search for technological waste products: waste heat, waste light, waste electromagnetic signals. We merely have to posit that successful civilizations don’t produce such waste, and the failure of SETI is explained.

His theory suggest that what technology wants is to be “natural,” not just biologically natural, but geologically natural, or like self-regulating Gaia, natural on a planetary scale. I didn’t quite reach that far in my book, so I am glad to have been pushed even further by Schroeder.

  • Eirik Gulbrandsen

    This does not make sense; it also implies that there should be an infinite number of civilizations comparable to our technological stage of development, creating a lot of similar Earth-like “waste” products.

  • Here’s a great book I read when I was in my bohemian stage of life (my partying 20’s). I haven’t reread it in a while but, I loved the possible explanations Lawrence LaShan had…

  • I know I’m getting into this conversation a bit late, having just discovered the blog, but I’m surprised that nobody has questioned the basic premise of the question. “The skies should be full of aliens, but are not. Why not?” My response is that the skies may very well be full of aliens, but we have simply not accepted this as fact because they haven’t bothered to make an undeniable, dramatic, public visit. I’m not going to get into conspiracy theories, but it seems that the evidence of extraterrestrial, or time-travelling, or paranormal, or some other kind of visitation is quite compelling. Perhaps the real question is, why have no aliens attempted to make public contact with our civilization? I can think of plenty of reasons why that is the case.

  • State of the Art – Novel InFlow Tech – Featured Project Development; 1-Gearturbine, 2-Imploturbocompressor


    Rotary-Turbo-InFlow Tech

    Atypical InFlow Thermodynamic

    Technology Proposal Submission

    Novel Fueled Motor Engine Type

    *State of the art Innovative concept Top system Higher efficient percent.*Power by bar, for Air-Planes, Sea-Boats, Land-Transport & Dynamic Power-Plant Generation.

    -Have similar system of the Aeolipile Heron Steam device from Alexandria 10-70 AD.

    YouTube; * Atypical New • GEARTURBINE / Retrodynamic = DextroRPM VS LevoInFlow + Ying Yang Thrust Way Type – Non Waste Looses

    *8-X/Y Thermodynamic CYCLE – Way Steps:

    1)1-Compression / bigger

    2)2-Turbo 1 cold

    3)2-Turbo 2 cold

    4)2-Combustion – circular motion flames / opposites

    5)2-Thrust – single turbo & planetary gears / ying yang

    6)2-Turbo 2 hot

    7)2-Turbo 1 hot

    8)1-Turbine / bigger

    -With Retrodynamic Dextrogiro vs Levogiro Phenomenon Effect. / Rotor-RPM VS InFlow / front to front; “Collision-Interaction Type” – inflow vs blades-gear-move. Technical unique dynamic innovative motion mode.

    -Non waste parasitic looses for; friction, cooling, lubrication & combustion.

    -Shape-Mass + Rotary-Motion = Inertia-Dynamic / Form-Function Wide [Flat] Cylindrical shape + positive dynamic rotary mass = continue Inertia positive tendency motion. Kinetic Rotating Mass. Tendency of matter to continue to move. Like a Free-Wheel.

    -Combustion 2Two continue circular [Rockets] flames. [ying yang] opposite one to the other. – With 2TWO very long distance INFLOW [inside propulsion] CONDUITS. -4 TURBOS Rotary Total Thrust-Power Regeneration Power System. -Mechanical direct 2two [Small] Planetary Gears at polar position. -Like the Ying Yang Symbol/Concept.

    -The Mechanical Gear Power Thrust Point Wide out the Rotor circumference were have much more lever [HIGH Torque] POWER THRUST. -No blade erosion by sand & very low heat target signature profile. -3 points of power thrust; 1-flow way, 2-gear, 3-turbine. *Patent; Dic. 1991 IMPI Mexico #197187 All Rights Reserved. Carlos Barrera.

    ·2-IMPLOTURBOCOMPRESSOR; One Moving Part System Excellence Design – The InFlow Interaction comes from Macro-Flow and goes to Micro-Flow by Implossion – Only One Compression Step; Inflow, Compression and outflow at one simple circular dynamic motion Concept.

    *·“Excellence in Design” because is only one moving part. Only one unique compression step. Inflow and out flow at the same one system, This invention by its nature a logic and simple conception in the dynamics flow mechanics area. The invention is a wing made of one piece in a rotating motion, contained in a pair cavity system connected by implocavity, and interacting dynamically with a flow, that passes internally “Imploded” through its simple mechanism. This flow can be gas (air) or liquid (water). And have two different applications, in two different form-function; this one can be received (using the dynamic flow passage, as a receiver). Or it can be generated (with a power plant, generating a propulsion).

    An example cut be, as a Bike needs a chain to work from motor to wheel. And for the Imploturbocompressor application, cut be as; in a circumstance at the engine, as an A-activate flow, and with a a tube flow conduit going to the wheel as a B-receiving-flow the work use.

    To see a Imploturbocompressor animation, is posible on a simple way, just to check the Hurricane Satellite view, and is the same implo inflow way nature.

    The imploturbocompresor system have three direct ways and between make two different turns; direct way (entrance) – turn – direct way (implocavity) – turn – direct way (exit), all this in a 1 simple circular move system concept. Like a knot do.

    Its prudent to mention that the curves and the inclinations of the blades of a rotating wing made of this invention, is conferred by its shape and function a structural rigidity allowing.

  • Parker Davis

    A little perspective is needed here. Most of these comments over the past five years have reflected a warped idea of just how much of space SETI (or any other project) has actually searched.

    In terms of the volume of interstellar space, we’ve seen less than one fifteen millionth of our own Milky Way galaxy.

    But it’s worse than that. Up until now (that is, until The SETI League launched its Project Argus search), SETI was done with giant radio telescopes, very sensitive instruments which look at extremely narrow slivers of sky. One such instrument (and there are only handful of them in the world) can see one part in a million of the sky. So if you happen to be looking on exactly the right frequency, at exactly the instant the Call comes in, there’s still a 99.9999% chance you’ll be pointing the wrong way.

    Now let’s talk about those frequencies. ETI communication could conceivably occur anywhere on the radio dial. But our searches to date have concentrated primarily on a handful of “magic frequencies” where we hypothesize other races may be trying to communicate. If we guess wrong, then it doesn’t matter how much of the sky we cover — we’ll never hear anything. So recent SETI projects have tried to increase the frequency dimension of the search. The best (so far) in this regard is The SETI Institute’s Project Phoenix search, which covers all frequencies between 1.2 and 3 GHz. Still a rather small fraction of the total radio spectrum.

    Point is – we’ve barely scratched the surface of one grain of sand on an infinite beach, so it’s ever so slightly premature (not to mention monumentally arrogant) to say the galaxy is silent or there’s no signs of life.

    I have a really big backyard and I’ve lived here over twenty years and I’ve never once found a brown bear. Now everyone swears brown bears are all over my state and in large numbers but since I’ve never seen any evidence of one in my .999% of the states land area (my backyard) I’m concluding either they don’t exist or something has wiped them all out.

    Yeah… it’s that ridiculous of an argument.