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[PATV] Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - Extra Credits Season 5, Ep. 23: Funding XCOM (Part 1)

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    BremenBremen Registered User regular
    The problem I have with the idea of alien invasion/colonization is similar to the one I have with several other disasters, like say an asteroid impact. The Earth has existed for such an immensely long time compared to how long humanity has existed, that it stands to reason that any earth shattering/changing events are extremely unlikely in any given year. Asteroid impacts have happened in the past enough for us to get a decent estimate of how unlikely that is. If there were even, say, a .0001% chance of aliens colonizing the planet in any given year, it would have happened already (a huge number of times, in fact).

    Therefor I conclude that anything of such a magnitude to wipe out humanity almost certainly has to be a disaster caused (at least partially) by humanity itself, since that invalidates pre-human history as a comparison. I suppose it's possible that there are aliens out there who just look for advanced civilizations to invade, but I don't see much need to worry about that since A) it makes very little sense, and B) If their goal is to invade advanced civilizations, they're almost certainly capable of winning no matter what we do.

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    themilothemilo Registered User regular
    edited February 2013
    Interesting idea if a bit odd.

    Anyway I wish you guys ever did a episode on why you like x com(the old one I love the new one) i dont understand why the game is so beloved since the game is hard for all of the wrong reasons but bizarrely enough also very easy to break.

    themilo on
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    OmegathorionOmegathorion Registered User new member
    So... what does this have to do with video games? Are you going to expand your "Global Games" series into "Interplanetary Games" and propose that we should educate aliens about game design?

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    DrakkonDrakkon Registered User regular
    @Omegathorion Video Games have played with alien civilizations for almost as long as they've been around. Having a good understanding of the science and math behind determining if/where actual alien civilizations might/could come from and the issues with getting them somewhere else is good for a designer/author/filmmaker to know, so it populates across a lot of fields. Plus, it's interesting stuff, since we're dealing with 'real world' things that don't include the mundane issues you normally find in the news.

    I don't know. I liked the episode. Keep up the good work, guys. You're moving in my circles now.

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    SiddownSiddown Registered User regular
    When I watch EC I full expect you to discuss only topics that I want you to talk about, any divergence from that means you suck. I don't care if the show is free, that I'm in no way forced to watch it, or that because you all do this show in your spare time that you feel you should have the right to pick your own topics.

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    hastheragehastherage Col. Mustard The Library w/ the candlestickRegistered User regular
    love the crash course shout out. good episode guys! :D

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    DefenestarDefenestar Registered User new member
    One possible issue here is that the time taken for a signal to travel the expected distance between civilizations might exceed the duration of the civilization. That by the time our noise gets to anyone who might be listening, there might not be an us.

    (Also, intelligence might not coincide with precise object manipulation abilities. See whales. Or it might not coincide with a long lifespan. See octopi. Octopodes? Octopusses.)

    Now, I'm not expecting that to happen. As a species, we're tenacious generalists. We're also all over the planet, and could probably, as a species, survive events that woiuld cause mass extinctions in something less stubborn. Heck, we count as an evnt causing mass extinctions. We're pretty horrifying, when you think about it.

    But if we're looking at an average distance of 18k lightyears between civilizations, then we're probably looking at thousands of years of listening before we hear anything. And the time before anyone might hear us is similar. The EC crew used some very optimistic numbers there. 'course, until we start seeing signs of active civilizations, we won't have any data on that. Maybe the time for a civilization to be sending recognisable signals is in the hundreds of thousands of years. Or maybe we're lasted longer than most, which would be kind of sad.

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    ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor changed Registered User regular
    Bremen wrote: »
    The problem I have with the idea of alien invasion/colonization is similar to the one I have with several other disasters, like say an asteroid impact. The Earth has existed for such an immensely long time compared to how long humanity has existed, that it stands to reason that any earth shattering/changing events are extremely unlikely in any given year. Asteroid impacts have happened in the past enough for us to get a decent estimate of how unlikely that is. If there were even, say, a .0001% chance of aliens colonizing the planet in any given year, it would have happened already (a huge number of times, in fact).

    Therefor I conclude that anything of such a magnitude to wipe out humanity almost certainly has to be a disaster caused (at least partially) by humanity itself, since that invalidates pre-human history as a comparison. I suppose it's possible that there are aliens out there who just look for advanced civilizations to invade, but I don't see much need to worry about that since A) it makes very little sense, and B) If their goal is to invade advanced civilizations, they're almost certainly capable of winning no matter what we do.

    I'd like to add that any spacefaring civilization bent on our destruction would have no trouble hurling a large volume of unpowered, high-mass, low-profile projectiles at the Earth from well outside of our range. As planning to identify and neutralize Earth-bound asteroids would be the first step in combating such an unlikely threat, anyone seeking to fund any sort of XCOM-like measures should start by dealing with the threat of asteroids. If you can't even do that, what good is a laser rife and a Psi Lab going to do for you?

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    TheBSGTheBSG Registered User regular
    edited February 2013
    Double Post

    TheBSG on
    You are the reason God invented shooting people in the face.
    I am the reason you invented God.
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    TheBSGTheBSG Registered User regular
    @LazyDogJumper You know what, that actually convinced me. I was going to say I don't come here for this kind of stuff too, but you're exactly right. I want to design and play videogames that make people have these kinds of discussions, so it's a logical step for this show to have those discussions.

    I still think this episode was kind of a poor one, though, and is perhaps why it's easy to jump to the criticism that this wasn't about games. What it was really about is that there was nothing to gain or garner from this discussion. They made obscure hardly validated statements about incredibly variable elements of a hypothetical situation. My criticism isn't even that it's speculative, but that their decision on what number to insert where hinged on it's likelihood, and not what it would mean for different variations in this number.

    There just wasn't any room for thinking here. It was, as someone mentioned earlier, somewhat of a wikipedia article. I don't expect them to be able to explain and then discuss the Fermi paradox in one episode, (as I notice this is a 2 parter,) but I don't think we actually needed to get this in depth to talk about some of the fascinating minimums and maximums of this equation, while possibly even relating it to videogames.

    You are the reason God invented shooting people in the face.
    I am the reason you invented God.
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    ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor changed Registered User regular
    edited February 2013
    The whole "you can't travel faster then light" issue makes the who whole "meeting other civilizations" issue kinda moot.

    The distance between the Earth and to cradle of another civilization might be unthinkable at sub-lightspeed, but there are 43 solar systems within 15 light years from us, several of which have known planets. 15ly may be a traversable distance at sub-lightspeed, with the right logistical technology. So while an interstellar empire may not be feasible, a nomadic society wouldn't need FTL speeds to explore the galaxy. With a good plan, and an extremely efficient society, their little galactic gypsy caravan would only be limited by questions of how long they can go on internal stores, and where they're going to stop next for supplies. Even trivial things like 'sunlight' would become pretty important, but it's something you can plan for as long as you can weather the dark periods.

    However comma, if you survive by hopping from system to system, then we can assume that travelling between galactic arms would be suicide. Therefore it seems the only logical origin for these sort of visitors would be limited to the 'Orion Spur', which is our shitty little chunk of Milky Way. Based solely on this image, it seems like the Perseus and Centaurus arms are probably where all the real action is at, given their apparent density (shorter hops), and how close you can get to the core by following them (increased heavy element content).

    This is the part of the post where I've been reading too many wikipedia articles and forgot my point. Did I have a point?

    SPACE!

    ArbitraryDescriptor on
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    MygafferMygaffer Registered User regular
    This was a very interesting video and I enjoyed it, but what does this have to do with games?

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    dejavu,againdejavu,again Registered User regular
    It seems your data is a bit behind the times:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21350899

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    TuskusTuskus Registered User regular
    Thanks for not explaining what the XCOM Project is at the beginning.

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    Abdurrahman KhallofAbdurrahman Khallof Registered User regular
    even if aliens exists, we'll be doomed long before we can communicate with them

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    SoakSoak Registered User new member
    Nice learning new things, haven't heard of the mentioned equation and paradox yet.
    But, honestly, when we're discussing this rationally, the likelihood doesn't really matter to us, at least not right now. Funding something like a real XCOM now would be nothing but wasted money in my opinion, because, just thinking about it logically, if we would be visited by intelligent extraterrestrials, they would very likely be much more advanced than we are, at least technological and just judging by that, we kinda would be dependent on their mercy!
    If they would come in peace, good for us, we could try to establish proper communication and could then try to adabt to the new situation, like living alongside each other, or even fusing our societies or whatever.
    Buuut, if they wouldn't come in peace, i guess we would be pretty much fuc***. The behavior in XCOM (the game) isn't really very "intelligent" in that matter and in a proper assault from extraterrestrial beings, it would very likely not go as "well" for us as it did in most sci-fi movies, like them launching some half-hearted attacks and then giving us time to "organize" some sort of counter attack, or that whomever finds some sort of super-weapon against them by chance, like in "Mars Attacks", haha, sure... Their advanced technology would very likely include some badass weaponry, they would probably go all orbital bombardment on us and that would be it with our civilization.
    To compare, for them we might appear similar to an ant-colony they just had to kick down, or if we would open up some underground ecosystem with cavemen in it, they wouldn't stand any chance against our fireweapons and organised military either.
    The only way we would have an actual chance against such intruders would be, if they would be stupid enough to launch small attacks (more like in the game) or maybe if some of them would actually side with us! Similar to, lets say "Stargate", in which Earth was actually under protection by one of the most advanced extraterrestrials, until humanity had a chance to explore the galaxy by itself and collect informations about technologies and opposing species. In that situation it just might make sense to fund "something like XCOM", before that point they would probably work on nothing but speculation which hardly is any good and, as said, would simply be wasted money. Other organisations, "special forces" or whatever already exist and are funded and trained to deal with a variety of possible scenarios. If they + our combined military forces wouldn't be able to deal with first assaults, it would already be to late.
    Now, we could speculate about some sort of "Men in Black" organisation, but then, would it matter to us anyways? We already would be funding them without knowing.

    Nonetheless, i'm looking forward to the next episode :)

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    SoakSoak Registered User new member
    Nice learning new things, haven't heard of the mentioned equation and paradox yet.
    But, honestly, when we're discussing this rationally, the likelihood doesn't really matter to us, at least not right now. Funding something like a real XCOM now would be nothing but wasted money in my opinion, because, just thinking about it logically, if we would be visited by intelligent extraterrestrials, they would very likely be much more advanced than we are, at least technological and just judging by that, we kinda would be dependent on their mercy!
    If they would come in peace, good for us, we could try to establish proper communication and could then try to adabt to the new situation, like living alongside each other, or even fusing our societies or whatever.
    Buuut, if they wouldn't come in peace, i guess we would be pretty much fuc***. The behavior in XCOM (the game) isn't really very "intelligent" in that matter and in a proper assault from extraterrestrial beings, it would very likely not go as "well" for us as it did in most sci-fi movies, like them launching some half-hearted attacks and then giving us time to "organize" some sort of counter attack, or that whomever finds some sort of super-weapon against them by chance, like in "Mars Attacks", haha, sure... Their advanced technology would very likely include some badass weaponry, they would probably go all orbital bombardment on us and that would be it with our civilization.
    To compare, for them we might appear similar to an ant-colony they just had to kick down, or if we would open up some underground ecosystem with cavemen in it, they wouldn't stand any chance against our fireweapons and organised military either.
    The only way we would have an actual chance against such intruders would be, if they would be stupid enough to launch small attacks (more like in the game) or maybe if some of them would actually side with us! Similar to, lets say "Stargate", in which Earth was actually under protection by one of the most advanced extraterrestrials, until humanity had a chance to explore the galaxy by itself and collect informations about technologies and opposing species. In that situation it just might make sense to fund "something like XCOM", before that point they would probably work on nothing but speculation which hardly is any good and, as said, would simply be wasted money. Other organisations, "special forces" or whatever already exist and are funded and trained to deal with a variety of possible scenarios. If they + our combined military forces wouldn't be able to deal with first assaults, it would already be to late.
    Now, we could speculate about some sort of "Men in Black" organisation, but then, would it matter to us anyways? We already would be funding them without knowing.

    Nonetheless, i'm looking forward to the next episode :)

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    gtademgtadem Registered User regular
    @LazyDogJumper: That is a fantastic counterpoint. Still, I personally think it would be more in keeping with the show's over-arching theme if the game and POTENTIAL for such a discussion was cited as an example of how games can lead to more than just passing time or "enjoying" ourselves. They've referenced the potential of the medium before and this is one such tangent.

    Also, while Tuskus's comment might've been lacking in tact, I should add that I too had to back the video up to the beginning and pause it so I could go look up what XCOM was and have a frame of reference. In my initial viewing, I couldn't tell if this was talking about the real world, or the validity in how to handle your in-game cash. Not that an internet show has to belabor ensuring everybody is on the same page, but being clear is a good thing. Kind of like when they said "Have you played Bejeweled 2? If not, pause and go check it out."

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    AlverantAlverant Registered User regular
    For the Fermi Paradox (which is basically, "If there are aliens there should be evidence of the visible in the night sky.") you should mention the Huge-LQG (Large Quasar Group). It's a collection of 73 quasars bound by gravity over 4 billion light years making it the largest known structure in the universe. It's so big that it breaks the Cosmological Principle (the idea that if you zoom out at a certain point the universe pretty much looks the same).

    Think of the universe as a cheese pizza without the crust. Any one bit pretty much looks like any other bit. The Huge-LQG would be like finding an extra helping of cheese but just on one slice. Such a large structure could be evidence of a civilization capable of moving galaxies since galaxies and quasars pretty much go together. Fortunately such a civilization by now would have either developed a way to explore new universes or transcended to a "higher plane of existence" or something like that so they won't bother us. And if they do come knocking, we'd pretty much be at their mercy. Either way X-com wouldn't be practical.

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    JeremiadJeremiad Registered User regular
    fizzix wrote: »
    Jeremiad wrote: »
    You understand that you can't google "habitable exoplanet" in order to discover one, right? You need, like, telescopes and stuff. It's not that the EC guys couldn't be bothered to google NASA, it's that nobody has yet found a habitable planet outside of our solar system. A couple have been found that might arguably be within the habitable zones of their respective stars, but they're too big to be considered good candidates for hosting Earth-like life.

    http://lmgtfy.com/?q=habitable+exoplanet

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    darkmage0707077darkmage0707077 Registered User regular
    Maybe we haven't seen any aliens because they were all sucked up by Dark Flow some time in the past:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_flow

    The way of the Paladin:
    To Seek,
    To Learn,
    To Do.
    -QFG2

    If the speed of light is faster then the speed of sound, is that why people always appear bright until they speak? o_O
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    AmakeAmake Registered User regular
    Should we build weapons to defend ourselves just in case some hitherto unknown spacefaring race turns out to be hostile? I don't think so. I think if we can be brave enough trust other people to be at least as well-meaning as ourselves, that's the only defense we need.

    Yeah, there's the risk that you may run into some evil dudes who will take whatever you've got and kill you, but if that is the world we live in then my opinion is that they can have it; I'm willing to bet that anything death has to offer can't be worse.

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    OdysseyHomeOdysseyHome Registered User regular
    edited February 2013
    Interesting episode, I'm very passionate about the design of narratives and have always found Sci Fi interesting in the political and philosophical topics it dabbles and expands in, but I find the genre is, for lack of better terminology, hyper-humanized. I.e. most Sci Fi is centered around humanity and dapples in defining a placement of humanity in the universe. This isn't a bad thing, the best stories deal with such topics, but rather it is a mindset that is rather restrictive and could be expanded upon.

    Most Sci Fi that uses intelligent aliens are highly political stories that first seek to compare cultural groups (humans and aliens) that each have their different customs and technological sophistication, and secondly justify their changing relations. Aliens can be either the parents of humanity (become parental figures or god like entities), siblings to humanity (a rival group of similar sophistication and mentality to humans), or children to humanity (humanity either seeks to nurture or exploits these primitive groups). Sci Fi stories are thus about a change in the relationship between these hierarchical groups, either humanity seeks to become as powerful or overthrow their parents, or warring siblings become peaceful and cooperative, or the child alien species humanity has been exploiting seeks equal political representation. In this way Sci Fi can use these intelligent aliens to allude to other present or historic cultural groups and thus the story becomes relevant to its readers.

    So to the topic of actual intelligent aliens, it seems highly arrogant to assume that they would be like us and that we would be able to communicate with them like we can communicate with other humans. If we can only communicate with other mammals at a base level, imagine the likelihood of speaking with an organism made of silicon that looks to us like a tree but is in fact highly intelligent and is trying to communicate with us through some means we are unable to perceive. Such an example questions the definitions of intelligence and life and could be a big inspiration to Sci Fi in media in general. Is intelligence used in this Sci Fi context really just an index for "how similar is this creature's mind to that of a average human" and life is "how similar is this creature to a human".

    Food for thought...

    OdysseyHome on
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    Trivial_PunkTrivial_Punk Registered User regular
    Often, these sorts of projects don't really have manifestations beyond rooms and procedures. If you remember the beginning of XCOM, then you'll know that you don't really start with much. There's a decent underground base, one interceptor, one drop-ship, etc. The point is that funding the XCOM project in real life probably wouldn't be all that ridiculous. More to the point, it would be prudent to have some sort of research methodologies in place for when we decide to branch out, as well.

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    VezRothVezRoth Registered User regular
    @ Amake

    "Should we build weapons to defend ourselves just in case some hitherto unknown spacefaring race turns out to be hostile? I don't think so. I think if we can be brave enough trust other people to be at least as well-meaning as ourselves, that's the only defense we need.

    Yeah, there's the risk that you may run into some evil dudes who will take whatever you've got and kill you, but if that is the world we live in then my opinion is that they can have it; I'm willing to bet that anything death has to offer can't be worse."

    I have a problem with this statement, that humans are "At least well-meaning." because that is a false statement. Humans, as a species are not well-meaning not when you think of them in an animalistic or even social stand-point. Humans are constantly pushing their boundries, social, economic, and even local. Humans want. They desire, and grasp for what they cannot or do not have yet. Resources, power, whatever it is we are an avaricious bunch. Those in power tend towards to desiring more power. Those with wealth desire more wealth. It doesn't matter if it is a reasonable expectation but we just want MOAR!

    We are only held in check by the outside forces that constrain our desires; other people, location, religious/spiritual beliefs, economic holding points. Humans are held in check by their social surroundings because otherwise it's rampant greed would tear everything down around us. Look what happened just recently with the banks foregoing any intelligent thought for the future and simply being interested in their own personal gain. Individuals at the top of the food chain became wealthy beyond many of our imaginations but it also led to a world-wide economic collapse.

    It's not natural to believe that people are "good" because we are not. We are ANIMALS. The lizard brain is still the driving force of humans, the lower functions of eat, sleep, fuck, more! are still there. Despite our technological advancements we are not an "evolved" species by any stretch. You only need to look around the world and see what the powerful, the leaders, or the super wealthy do to understand that we are NOT a "mostly good" species.

    It would be safe to assume that ANY extra-terrestrial species would be similar. They would have gotten to where they are by being the top of the food chain for a very, very long time. Either through brute force, intelligence, or a combination of both for an extended duration.

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    eigenspaceeigenspace Registered User new member
    Disappointed that this episode had nothing to do with games. I really like this show for it's revelations about the game industry and game design concepts. Sad that it seems next week will also be off topic. Please stick to what the show is supposed to be about.

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    yorzephyr@yahoo.comyorzephyr@yahoo.com Yor Zephyr CaliforniaRegistered User new member
    Hi, normally I don't post but I felt the need to add my 2 cents (maybe less than 2 cents). I really love you guys and I've watched your show for the longest time. Back before Penny arcade, even before the Escapist. You've filled me in on a world that is beyond my reach, but thanks to you I get to peer in (a little bit) every week. I love you guys for that, thank you. This time though I didn't get my usual look into this very interesting world, and I was a little disappointed because of it. The show was wonderfully well done, as always, but I miss not hearing about the games, games design, industry characteristics, and the many different aspects of that special world. I'm never going to stop watching you guys but I'll feel far more happy when things swing back to games. Games are Important.

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    RaginRednecKRaginRednecK Registered User regular
    When i run the calculation with the values you name i get (at 7.5) 50.3118 years of electromagnetic radiation that can be listened to. You seem to posit the idea that we move away from communications within the radio band, and I would hope we do, but the example you give for this problem is flawed. We humans have focused our communications inward over hard lined connectivity, primarily because our phones are taking up most of the electromagnetic spectrum now, and a multi star civilization would have to concentrate a significant portion of its communications outward. That is a tough nut to crack if we cannot figure out FTL communications. And before anyone says QUANTOM COMMUNICATIONS and starts quoting mass effect codex's at me, that was called scifi for a reason we figured out about 2 years ago that entangled particles cannot be used for any meaningful communication within the understanding we have of the nature of sub atomic particles.
    RaginRedneck, Physics Major
    Blacksburg Virginia VA Tech

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    vortexcortexvortexcortex Registered User regular
    edited February 2013
    This episode was about the Drake Equation, and posed the question of whether we should be preparing ourselves to fight against aliens. It failed to take into consideration:

    1) The percentage of aliens who would be hostile.
    Since we as humans are not hostile, I think a cautious 50% would be a worst case scenario: We come in peace, for exploration.

    2) The rarity of nearby resources a greedy space faring race would have, causing them to seek out other planets specifically.
    Earth like planets are rare but the raw resources needed are plentiful -- Hostile aliens would be better off fighting over near by Nebulas that they can safely collect material from. I'm going to set this at a generous 10% -- In reality it would be more like %0.
    I mean, if you can survive in space for the journey all the way here, you could just go somewhere MUCH closer than Earth.

    3) The percentage of aliens who ACTUALLY discover other aliens.
    I'm going to set this at a VERY generous %50 -- It's probably more like %0.

    4) The percentage of aliens that actually survive the journey -- Maybe their ship makes it here, but sails on by because everyone aboard was killed by an errant gamma-ray burst.
    I'm going to set this at a generous %80 -- Space is risky, even if you've mastered interstellar travel, we're taking hopping past many suns.

    So we take your 7.5% and do the math: 7.5 * .5 * .1 * .5 * .8 = 0.15, or in only 3 out of 20 galaxies does an alien war actually happen.

    In reality I don't think ANY civilization really EVER needs an XCOM. What drives war is resources, not blind hatred. At risk of invoking Godwin's law too soon: Nazis weren't pissed at Jews for being Jewish, it was because of them allegedly affecting resources -- even just "they took our jobs" is resource management. The motives for a space faring race to expend all that energy to get here would have to be a very rare EXTREME xenophobia, or much more likely an effort of good will and fellowship to advance universal sciences.

    Imagine tomorrow we discover there's a confirmed signal of alien life anywhere in the Universe: No matter if the aliens are likely dead by the time we got the message, regardless of the danger that the aliens might be a hostile race, and despite the fact that our messages would never reach them (we're all moving, have to lead our 'shots') every hobbyist on Earth with a parabolic satellite dish would be modding it to beam everything from Porn to Pirated movies to our newly discovered alien brethren.

    We've even discovered empathy in Rats, and even simple Machine Learning Systems for Zorg's sake. Kindness seems to be an emergent trait of any cybernetic system (brain) complex enough to socially interact with others. Enjoy your "Violence" while it lasts, if we survive much longer it too will be an extinct practice, much like human cannibalism.

    I'd also like to join the petition for James to stick to talking about games. Other more eloquent and learned individuals have more thoroughly discussed the topic of whether we're alone in the Universe. It's not one new to gamers, hell it was old-hat when the 1st XCOM game was made, TWENTY TWO YEARS AGO.

    You like XCOM? Let's fly off on a Tangent? Would not a much better episode have compared the older gameplay to the newer more streamlined gameplay, or expounded upon the dynamism employed despite the turn based game play?

    vortexcortex on
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    funkycariboufunkycaribou Registered User regular
    In my opinion, the Drake equation is nearly useless for making any actual judgements without loads more data than we have access to at this point. It is just a series of a assumptions. And I tend to fall on the pessimistic side of things. A habitable planet needs a large degree of stability to support complex life for long periods, and even on a planet as well-suited as Earth, there have been frequent mass extinction events. Also, evolution is merely adaptation, and makes no guarantees as to what form those will take. Even if increasing intelligence is fairly common, it takes a good deal more than that to produce a technological species like ours. Beyond that, when we talk about civilization in the most general sense, we are making a ton of assumptions about the way in which an intelligent species will relate to its environment and itself as it develops.

    Regardless of whether my pessimism is warranted, the idea of funding anything like the X-COM program when we can barely fund a decent space program is ridiculous. Not to mention the level of cooperation between countries that would be necessary for them to allow an autonomous military entity to operate on a global scale. I have no doubt some form of military cooperation would develop in the extremely unlikely event that we were invaded by aliens, but until then, we have people watching and scanning the stars, and a planet full of countries bristling with weapons. What more do we need?

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    PunchgroinPunchgroin Registered User regular
    Yeah, a bit of a departure... but still interesting as hell.

    I personally think these numbers were a bit overly optimistic, I would put it at maybe 2 or 3 extant civilizations per galaxy, maybe as low as .5 per galaxy. The natural resources required to develop higher technology aren't a given on an earth-like planet. Very specific minerals are and petrochemicals are required for this. It's possible to have a highly earth-like planet with little to no heavy metals, and this would severely cripple the development of civilization.

    I think evidence supports this number as being fairly low. (Probably not more than 30 or so in our galaxy at a given time.) I think that even though other forms of communication are possible, electromagnetic signals are still simple and efficient ways of communicating. I doubt even an extremely advanced civilization would abandon it altogether.

    I also have a strong hunch that FTL travel is merely a sexy fantasy.

    However, there is one thing that I think damns the idea of there being any highly advanced human-like civilization in our galaxy. The technology to create self-replicating probes to explore and map the galaxy isn't really unfeasible. In fact, the only real hurdle in my mind is programming the things and miniaturizing manufacturing tools. (2 things that *are* advancing very very rapidly in our own civilization.) The only other thing missing is political will to invest money in a project that wont have any significant fiscal benefits in the short term.

    In fact, exploring the galaxy in this method would be so efficient it seems to me like an inevitability. We could map every single star at wholly subliminal speeds with subliminal communication in less than a million years with minimal resource investment. This seems like a hugely long time... but by geological standards it's nothing. Our species has already existed that long, it's not silly to think it will exist as long into the future.

    But if another civilization had advanced far enough to do this (a reasonable conclusion, since really we are almost there, in my opinion maybe only a century away) We would almost *certainly* see evidence of this in our own system or in a nearby system. If enough had done this the universe would actually be stripped of resources by the damn probes. (Which by itself has some interesting implications... would they evolve? Change like life as they replicated?)

    This brings us to Fermis paradox. Either we are essentially alone, or we are doomed to destroy ourselves. Maybe we *aren't* doomed, maybe our odds are just low. Maybe we already passed the dangerous part. (by the skin of our teeth IMO) But something like this is happening. Arthur C. Clark once said...

    "Either we are alone in the universe, or we are not... Both possibilities are equally terrifying"

    So I think we should be exploring and colonizing the damn galaxy 1st, then we should fund X-Com. If a civ was advanced enough to either escape our detection, or travel FTL from outside our range of detection, we are completely screwed anyway. There is no way we could hope to defeat or survive against civ that advanced.

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    funkycariboufunkycaribou Registered User regular
    In my opinion, the Drake equation is nearly useless for making any actual judgements without loads more data than we have access to at this point. It is just a series of a assumptions. And I tend to fall on the pessimistic side of things. A habitable planet needs a large degree of stability to support complex life for long periods, and even on a planet as well-suited as Earth, there have been frequent mass extinction events. Also, evolution is merely adaptation, and makes no guarantees as to what form those will take. Even if increasing intelligence is fairly common, it takes a good deal more than that to produce a technological species like ours. Beyond that, when we talk about civilization in the most general sense, we are making a ton of assumptions about the way in which an intelligent species will relate to its environment and itself as it develops.

    Regardless of whether my pessimism is warranted, the idea of funding anything like the X-COM program when we can barely fund a decent space program is ridiculous. Not to mention the level of cooperation between countries that would be necessary for them to allow an autonomous military entity to operate on a global scale. I have no doubt some form of military cooperation would develop in the extremely unlikely event that we were invaded by aliens, but until then, we have people watching and scanning the stars, and a planet full of countries bristling with weapons. What more do we need?

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    PunchgroinPunchgroin Registered User regular
    Yeah, a bit of a departure... but still interesting as hell.

    I personally think these numbers were a bit overly optimistic, I would put it at maybe 2 or 3 extant civilizations per galaxy, maybe as low as .5 per galaxy. The natural resources required to develop higher technology aren't a given on an earth-like planet. Very specific minerals are and petrochemicals are required for this. It's possible to have a highly earth-like planet with little to no heavy metals, and this would severely cripple the development of civilization.

    I think evidence supports this number as being fairly low. (Probably not more than 30 or so in our galaxy at a given time.) I think that even though other forms of communication are possible, electromagnetic signals are still simple and efficient ways of communicating. I doubt even an extremely advanced civilization would abandon it altogether.

    I also have a strong hunch that FTL travel is merely a sexy fantasy.

    However, there is one thing that I think damns the idea of there being any highly advanced human-like civilization in our galaxy. The technology to create self-replicating probes to explore and map the galaxy isn't really unfeasible. In fact, the only real hurdle in my mind is programming the things and miniaturizing manufacturing tools. (2 things that *are* advancing very very rapidly in our own civilization.) The only other thing missing is political will to invest money in a project that wont have any significant fiscal benefits in the short term.

    In fact, exploring the galaxy in this method would be so efficient it seems to me like an inevitability. We could map every single star at wholly subliminal speeds with subliminal communication in less than a million years with minimal resource investment. This seems like a hugely long time... but by geological standards it's nothing. Our species has already existed that long, it's not silly to think it will exist as long into the future.

    But if another civilization had advanced far enough to do this (a reasonable conclusion, since really we are almost there, in my opinion maybe only a century away) We would almost *certainly* see evidence of this in our own system or in a nearby system. If enough had done this the universe would actually be stripped of resources by the damn probes. (Which by itself has some interesting implications... would they evolve? Change like life as they replicated?)

    This brings us to Fermis paradox. Either we are essentially alone, or we are doomed to destroy ourselves. Maybe we *aren't* doomed, maybe our odds are just low. Maybe we already passed the dangerous part. (by the skin of our teeth IMO) But something like this is happening. Arthur C. Clark once said...

    "Either we are alone in the universe, or we are not... Both possibilities are equally terrifying"

    So I think we should be exploring and colonizing the damn galaxy 1st, then we should fund X-Com. If a civ was advanced enough to either escape our detection, or travel FTL from outside our range of detection, we are completely screwed anyway. There is no way we could hope to defeat or survive against civ that advanced.

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    wtfatwomfgwtfatwomfg Registered User new member
    @Punchgroin: NASA actually estimates that faster than light travel will be accomplished by 2100. They plan on doing this by pulling a Farnsworth, they won't move the ship, they'll move space. By expanding space-time in front of the ship and contracting it in back it will be capable of exceeding the speed of light, however current estimates suggest we would need to use an energy supply the size of Jupiter to pull it off.
    You also greatly underestimate the size of the universe, while forgetting that it's expanding. In a a few million years we won't be able to see stars, let alone get information from them. No point to send probes we'll never see.
    Also you seem to think that a probe with manufacturing tools would be possible to strip entire planets, they would need a few hundred years and mining equipment which works best when enlarged. Even if it could mine required resources it wouldn't be able to evolve in much sense because it would see these modifications as problems, unless it has an actual AI, in which case we have to wonder what type of hell we're putting it through and we have moral and ethical dilemmas and we have to keep it from building more probes and then the Iron Giant happens.

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    cattlehuntercattlehunter Registered User regular
    Too bad the drake equation *in reality* tells you *absolutely nothing*, since for all we know the chance of there existing any other civilizations is 0. You have no way of assigning a number to that probability, making it worthless for providing any useful information.

    Every single one of the stats, *especially* the "90% chance" of a civilization developing the required technology to be detectable through space, were total asspulls.

    "Sooner or later all intelligent species inevitably get there, barring some major disaster." Gee, really? Given INFINITE TIME, and UNLESS THEY'RE PREVENTED FROM DOING IT they'll get there? No shit? I could phrase an equally idiotic statement that dooms all intelligent species to self-destruction, because, given enough time, and as long as nothing prevents it, we'll inevitably get there... though I don't even accept that premise as it's phrased. Intelligence does not inevitably lead to an advanced civilization.

    We spent tens of thousands of years, where we could've easily been wiped out a number of times to a number of different things, without developing shit like it, and we very easily could still be stuck in the dark ages today if things had gone differently. Incidentally, me using the term "dark ages" might be pointed out by others as eurocentric, since the "dark ages" were mostly confined to europe... to which I would respond that, yes, that's true, and in all those other parts of the world nobody was developing anything interesting at all. Plenty of civilizations, like the chinese, or the japanese, basically concluded that they had reached the pinnacle (and *had* all the answers they needed for other-worldly questions thanks to their religions), and decided that they weren't going to progress any further. If it hadn't been for europeans (who were, importantly, dreaming of re-creating the roman empire) almost stumbling into muslim libraries and re-discovering the knowledge of the ancient greeks and romans, we would probably still be stuck in that bog of ignorance with no hope of it being dispelled.

    It wouldn't have taken a lot for some warlord with a vendetta to burn down all the libraries, churches, etc, and then what? What if Ghengis Khan decided that he was going to destroy civilizations beyond a certain point, and he lived another 20 years, and his successor continued his mission and lived to old age as well? They could *very realistically* have compeltely wiped out all of european civilization (except for maybe places like scandinavia and the british isles), and significant parts of asia as well; this was a guy who originally wanted to depopulate china to create grazing land for his horses, and he could've done it if he wanted to (luckily he was convinced to let the people live because then they could be taxed). Starting over might take thousands of years, and it would just take *one* powerful person like that again to set it all back to stage 1 all over (as you can see in places like china, where various emperors come and go, elevating, or setting back, the entire society all by themselves). As they say on tvtropes, "evil only has to win once".

    And we are a species extremely unique in the animal kingdom in the sense that we have a lot of traits that heavily predispose us towards the behaviour that enable an advanced civlization to work.

    If another species, as predisposed to intelligence as we are, developed, on an earth-like planet, but they didn't have hands or some other appendages that made them intuitive tool-users, then would they ever develop tools? If they had larger, stronger bodies that meant they didn't need tools to achieve anything (and the survival and reproductive advantages confered by those bodies was great enough that the species couldn't become small enough that primitive tools would be useful), would they ever get started? What if they had metabolisms that made them extremely unproductive? One of our greatest strengths is our (very under-appreciated) endurance.

    What if they're plant-eaters that never develop cooking, and so have to spend 100% of their waking moments, when they're not mating or doing something else more essential to survival, searching for or just *eating* food, like most herbivores do (yeah, take that, vegans!)? What if there are no plants or animals around for them to domesticate, and so they never have the ability to develop into an agricultural society (which is an essential stepping-stone)? What if, what if, what if? There are hundreds more of these little pieces, and if even just one of the more important ones doesn't fall into place, the hopes of a truly technologically advanced civilization are forever shattered. Just because something is INTELLIGENT doesn't mean it'll evolve a technologically advanced civilization like ours. Even we barely did it.

    To assume that intelligence = civilization is extremely anthropocentric.

    It also assumes that the planet in question has the resources necessary to facilitate the development of these technologies, AND that it has the environment necessary to enable it even if it did. But of those assumptions you have on justification for making. Maybe the planet is constantly barraged with radiation from their sun of such levels that it's impossible to develop any technologies beyond the very mundane, even if they did get to that point.

    But even if aliens as we think of them did exist and they had the ability to come to earth, and they were hostile, they'd have to have technology that'd make it impossible for us to detect them before after they arrived, and they'd be able to crush us instantly from space without us having any ability to even consider resisting, making an XCOM project a total waste of resources even if aliens were a realistic threat.

    Dunno what the point of this episode was, or the next one is going to be. If it hadn't been prefaced with "approaching a rational manner", and pretended to sound "reasonable", I wouldn't have cared, but it did and in that context it was extremely stupid and childish, and reminded me more of a random forum post on a gaming forum than the kind of at least usually insightful gaming commntary I come here for... or used to come here for?

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    ArkielArkiel Registered User new member
    Any equation to justify XCOM funding should totally take predatory alternate realities into account. Accourse, if some civilization with full access to the resources of one or two alternate worlds decided to invade, they'd probably bowl us over, easily. Still would be fun to throw in the chances of an alternate Earth forming -just so- and with a synchronous orbit to your fancy-schmancy equation.

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    AmakeAmake Registered User regular
    @VezRoth, you should take note that those outside forces that restrain our predatory impulses are actually successful in restraining them. At least some of the time. You might call our learned behaviors a departure from our natural state, but I'd say that we've far passed the point where we have to be victims of our nature rather than choose to do what's useful.

    See http://wiki.lesswrong.com/ for more comprehensive study, if you find any part of what I'm saying to be confusing or misguided. I'm not very good at explaining things, but I think those guys are.

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    AeperviusAepervius Registered User new member
    edited February 2013
    Firstly as other pointed out , we have no prior knowledge of many of those probability to planet potentially harboring life, or probability of having intelligent life or probability of having a civilization. The assumption taken inside the video are overly optimistic. I can give you an example why : you could have very well an intelligent specie which is aquatic. Aquatic intelligence is a dead end technology wise. You cannot easily develop fire, you cannot easily develop a lot of stuff which allowed us to build tools and machine. The environment is much more hostile to machinery if only due to viscosity. And so forth. Even among terrestrial animal it does not matter if you incidentally develop intelligence if you cannot manipulate tools. So the technological step is not so sure at all. (as in statistic : we have no prior to correctely evaluate the probability).

    OK but let us be still optimist and count all factor as you did on life and intelligence.

    Furthermore it does not matter how long we have developped radio. Because what counts is the inverse square law. Most of what we emitted as radio or TV signal was lost in the noise way before 1 light year (in fact even at 1/10 of that). You could have a listening post at alpha centauri (~4 ly away) and not hear a PIP from us. The only signals which escaped our solar system above the noise are the 2 time 10 minutes or something high powered very directional signal which we *intentionally* sent toward M52 (or was it M10 ? I can't recall). Those were the only signals which had a chance to be detectable above galactic noise after a few light year.

    So now try to remake your estimate counting 2*10 minutes instead of 110 years. You are off by a factor 3 million with your 7.5 "audible civ". And that is not an estimate it is plan hard physical truth due to the inverse square law.

    Aepervius on
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    NecunoNecuno Registered User regular
    I love xcom, but should we fund a real-life xcom? No, ofcause not, that is crazy. Fund research, if we find any evidence then maybe we should consider it.

    Is there alien life? Yes, the universe is large. Unfortunatly it is so large that we may never find it.

    Furthermore "alien" is usually a very narrow term. I can recommend this:
    Christoph Adami: Finding life we can't imagine
    http://www.ted.com/talks/christophe_adami_finding_life_we_can_t_imagine.html

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    ChandlerChandler Registered User new member
    Crash course is good, but I think scishow is better and more related to the things discussed in this episode.It's not as focused on teaching, but you can still learn a lot through it. The guys that run those two channels are brothers too, so you should just watch them both.

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