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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2012 > Mar > Mar 4

Re: Sampling Earth's Biodiversity

From: Michael Tarbell <mtarbell.nul>
Date: Sat, 03 Mar 2012 20:10:29 -0700
Archived: Sun, 04 Mar 2012 08:29:19 -0500
Subject: Re: Sampling Earth's Biodiversity

>From: J. Maynard Gelinas <j.maynard.gelinas.nul>
>To: post.nul
>Date: Sat, 3 Mar 2012 08:57:56 +0800
>Subject: Re: Sampling Earth's Biodiversity

>>From: Michael Tarbell <mtarbell.nul>
>>To: post.nul
>>Date: Fri, 02 Mar 2012 09:17:00 -0700
>>Subject: Re: Sampling Earth's Biodiversity


>>In other words, our own experience suggests that there could
>>well be an evolutionary selection effect at work that makes
>>visitation by aggressively exploitative/extractive ET cultures,
>>or even the descendants of such cultures, relatively unlikely.
>>But I confess that may represent hope as much as deduction.

>If I understand your counter-argument, you're saying here that
>exploitative use of resources (whether raw or computational) is
>essentially a human behavior - one not evolutionarily conserved
>- and thus to presume such activity is to presuppose
>anthropocentrism itself. I restate your argument simply to
>verify that we're conceptually on the same page.

>In response, I'd argue that such behavior is not merely human,
>but is a core evolutionary trait repeated across our ecosystem
>from the smallest single celled predators (such as amoeba)
>through to land and sea animals. Typically, an organism that
>gains a new evolutionary advantage within a confined environment
>utilizes that new resource opportunity for reproductive gain
>until depletion or until prey counter-evolve defense measures.

I'm not suggesting that extractive/exploitative behavior, even
in a reckless manner, is uniquely human, or even uncommon. What
I'm suggesting is that, in the hands of a technologically
advanced species, such behavior is ultimately self-destructive,
particularly in a finite ecosystem. As such, aggressively
exploitative civilizations may, in general, be self-limiting.

Conceivably some are able to survive long enough to achieve
practical inter-planetary/stellar travel, and so obtain a new
lease on life, so to speak. In the only example available for
examination, namely our own, I'd have to say we're losing that
race. Badly.

>>Presumably they themselves derived from biological evolutionary
>>processes, so they should already have genetic material to work
>>with. There is nothing to indicate that such processes on Earth
>>are chemically unique in terms of exotic reactions or extremely
>>rare elements. The requisite materials are widespread, and they
>>are known to combine spontaneously to form many of the critical
>>components (e.g., amino acids in interstellar molecular clouds).


>...here are two counters to your challenge:

>- Earth's biosphere is massive. The larger the ecosystem the
>greater the variation over time. The more variation, the faster
>will the system generate differing solutions to the same
>problem. The more potential solutions, the more options
>available in choosing solutions tailored to their solving their
>problem, thus will it be more likely to find a 'best fit'. Thus,
>even though Extraterrestrials could engineer a 'toy' ecosystem
>for modeling solutions to their problems, in comparison to a
>naturally evolved planetary ecosystem, such a vastly smaller
>design would impose limits on achieving final positive results.
>Finding 'best case' solutions would also take significantly

>- Earth's biosphere is a closed, naturally evolved, system.
>Extraterrestrials - assuming they exist - could not use their
>own planet for such a simulation because they exist as part of
>its ecosystem. To experiment on themselves in this manner would
>introduce perturbations from their own activities that would
>likely generate garbage results on output. It's akin to humanity
>engaging in genetic modification of its own species. Whatever
>the result, such activities would be - by definition - not
>natural selection. It's self-referential nature would thus
>violate the experimental controls.

All conceded, but to be of any force it requires that this
hypothetical ET culture has the luxury of practical interstellar
travel with which it can visit/exploit pristine alien
ecosystems. Lacking such capability, but having already
developed the means to apply these biologic/genetic tools (which
would be the most common scenario, in my opinion), it's likely
they would proceed with what's available locally, rather than
wait for ideal (i.e., exoplanetary) conditions.

But I confess that's an anthropocentric inference, i.e., that's
almost certainly what _we_ would do, having shown little
hesitation in such circumstances thus far.


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