How to Contact Aliens


Cirrus

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I know we're malevolent, I live that shit every day. I just mean there's probably aliens out there that evolved that are still dick-holes and want to kill things and steal and take over worlds. Maybe it's just us in the future.
Nah, it's probably not us in the future. If we try to be dick-holes out there an advanced species will probably just limit where we can go and/or allow us to wipe ourselves out.
 

Kairos

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I know we're malevolent, I live that shit every day. I just mean there's probably aliens out there that evolved that are still dick-holes and want to kill things and steal and take over worlds. Maybe it's just us in the future.

I think probability dictates the vast majority of intelligent "life" we could encounter are just machines. More like an echo of the noosphere of some biological civilization that went to sleep or died off.

Because resources are so plentiful once you get off your initial world, and distances so great, I doubt there is a great deal of warfare out there. At least not between civilizations (probably lots of warfare within a species, which is fine).

Just going by the zero-one law, most stars in this galaxy must have at least one von neuman machine parked somewhere watching. I doubt the machines would often get involved, but they likely don't cotton to entire species getting wrecked. They might contain us.

Which kind of sucks, because being a space marine invading an alien world to bring the love of Jesus is kind of a dream. But alas..
 

Kairos

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With respect to communication with aliens.. you are going to have to solve the embodiment problem. Language is not independent of your body and the human condition. Everything you know, everything you can express, derives from your senses through a series of inferences and deductions. It all comes back to the senses. Even the way we frame problems and the world depends upon the structure of our human body and the evolution that brought us to this point.

Even the grammatical structure of human language depends upon the human existence. We are land-based creatures. We see the world as a collection of objects (nouns) we can act upon (verb) with our hands.

I think to even communicate with aliens, we likely need to construct some kind of intermediary, or find something that can simulate that intermediary (advanced machines).

Wittgenstein discussed this problem a little. They kind of hit on it in a movie about him.



In the artificial intelligence world, especially in computational linguistics, we call this the embodiment problem.
 

Kairos

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Another way of looking at the problem:

Think of communication as a game. Create a whiteboard in your mind. Draw two cartoon guys facing one another. The left guy wants to communicate a concept to the right guy. Draw in the left guy's cartoon head some representation of a set of cognitive states. The game of communication is for the left guy to somehow create those same states inside the head of the right guy.

Between two humans this is trivial as long as they are playing a common second game (they share a common natural language). But all human natural languages are really just the same language. There actually is only one language. An interesting fact about humans.. our language seems to be evolved and is unique to the condition of our species. Different natural languages are differing dialects of the a tree of dialects of the same language. We can even trace them back in time to only a few handful of languages. Some thing we can infer some of the words in the original ancestral language of our species, but I have my doubts.

An alien does not share any of that. They don't share a common evolutionary trajectory as us. They don't share our bodies. Their environment is likely very different, with different problems. Their brains, if they even have a single brain like we do, are different. They don't even share the same cognitive states as us.

How in Space are you supposed to create in the mind of an alien the semantic states you are holding in your conscious mind? What if the alien is not even a conscious creature to begin with? They could be running on biological programs that solve problems in a completely different strategy from us.

In my opinion, there are two games: communication and language. The game of communication is to elicit a set of states in another person's minds (transmission of an idea, feeling, whatever). The game of language is working out grammatical rules, semantics, lexical differences, etc. to accurately (or possibly deliberately not) convey information. Sometimes the game of communication is manipulation, where the sender is trying to elicit a behavioral response, not necessarily create an accurate cognitive state. In any case, I don't think the problem of communicating with actual aliens is obvious or trivial. At all.
 

Element115

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@Kairos I would believe if the aliens are that much more advanced than us, they have the ability or technology to communicate with us already. They can understand us - we just have a problem understanding them.
 

Kairos

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@Kairos I would believe if the aliens are that much more advanced than us, they have the ability or technology to communicate with us already. They can understand us - we just have a problem understanding them.

Did you read my post about how unlikely that is?

There is nothing in our human languages that necessarily can express the kinds of semantics an alien might possibly wish to convey, and there is not likely the same kinds of cognitive states in our brains for such language to elicit.

You could probably figure out a common number system. From there work out some mathematical operations.

If you want to express anything meaningful.. eh.. probably not. It would be a problem that a great many researchers would focus on for a very long time.

Just imagine if whales could talk. They might be talking right now and we can't figure it out. We don't share anything remotely like the same embodiment as them, or the same condition, and we would have no idea what they are communicating, even though it kind of seems like they are doing just that. They are also mammals. They also evolved in the same biosphere and on the same planet as us.

Imagine what happens if you are talking about completely alien beings.
 

Element115

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Did you read my post about how unlikely that is?

There is nothing in our human languages that necessarily can express the kinds of semantics an alien might possibly wish to convey, and there is not likely the same kinds of cognitive states in our brains for such language to elicit.

You could probably figure out a common number system. From there work out some mathematical operations.

If you want to express anything meaningful.. eh.. probably not. It would be a problem that a great many researchers would focus on for a very long time.

Just imagine if whales could talk. They might be talking right now and we can't figure it out. We don't share anything remotely like the same embodiment as them, or the same condition, and we would have no idea what they are communicating, even though it kind of seems like they are doing just that. They are also mammals. They also evolved in the same biosphere and on the same planet as us.

Imagine what happens if you are talking about completely alien beings.
I did read your posts saying it's unlikely and that machines are probably the most abundant aliens. I'm talking about telepathy or a device that is able to decode our brainwaves into a common understandable language. They say math is a universal language and even aliens would have a common basis with us using math. Binary is also universal. For the aliens are much more advanced than us, we see this problem you've described as a great barrier but to them it's a minor bump.

I understand our number systems may be different but we'd be able to do the conversions. We're base 10 because we have 10 digits on our hands. Maybe the aliens are base 8. If they're base 2 we already have a common language.
 

Cirrus

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An interesting fact about humans.. our language seems to be evolved and is unique to the condition of our species. Different natural languages are differing dialects of the a tree of dialects of the same language. We can even trace them back in time to only a few handful of languages. Some thing we can infer some of the words in the original ancestral language of our species, but I have my doubts.

An alien does not share any of that. They don't share a common evolutionary trajectory as us. They don't share our bodies. Their environment is likely very different, with different problems. Their brains, if they even have a single brain like we do, are different. They don't even share the same cognitive states as us.
Unless the aliens "gave" us the original language....

 

Kairos

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Unless the aliens "gave" us the original language....

Human language is an evolutionary adaptation. It's intrinsic to our species. This is why every natural language is essentially the same language with a few variations to the lexicon, morphology, and grammar. The way the language is constructed is the same.

The language is also unique to our human body, our senses, and the environment in which we evolved.

An alien would likely share little or nothing in common with us. There is no common ground around which languages can be translated to one another. You might be able to communicate plain facts, like Earth is the third planet, but nothing abstract or meaningful.

You'd have to create a lingua franca and that would take a very long time to develop, requiring both sides to come to some kind of understanding of one another's biology and psychology (if the other side even has a psychology).
 

Kairos

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For instance.. sperm whales demonstrate cultural differences in what they say to one another. Many researchers are convinced they actually have a language.

Nobody can figure it out because we don't have whale bodies. We don't have whale brains.

And yet both our species are mammals, evolved on planet Earth. Aliens would have far less in common with us.

Good luck. Whenever contact is made with another biological species, this will be the greatest problem our species will have yet to solve. I would love to get involved in that kind of research. I simply am not so naive to think I can buy a CB radio and talk about baseball with aliens.
 

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