Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by Lord Insanity » 2018-03-30 06:54pm

Am I the only one that can't help but think of the aliens from Galaxy Quest? The only reason we haven't been conquered is our "historical records" show we are a bunch of lunatics with weapons of mass destruction and routinely blow up planets.
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by Zixinus » 2018-03-31 03:18pm

ray245 wrote:
2018-03-30 05:07pm
Zixinus wrote:
2018-03-30 04:03pm
First we will all collectively shit ourselves as we realize that we are very, very small boys surrounded by giants.

The first real question is that considering the solar system appears to be "pristine", that is obviously untapped, and why? What has kept aliens from entering the solar system? What is it that has kept us both unconquered and unmolested (as far as we know)? We really need to figure that out.

Second, what can we actually do? We have barely reached the moon, never mind the solar system. We can play around with communications, if we even can. Then the question becomes "What can we actually offer that we are willing to give and what should we even ask for?". First steps would be gently asking around the neighbours to find out who is even willing to even talk to us and who we shouldn't talk to. Not just because who is a bad egg but whose interests should we avoid.
Think of it as some sort of Prime Directive/respect the rights of sentient species. While humans were busy learning how to set up civilizations, every other alien species in the Galaxy and beyond has been busy exploring and laying claims on worlds. In other words, humanity is dead last in the race to FTL.
That is actually encouraging because it indicates that there is some sort of interstellar society that not only can create laws to protect cases like ours but enforce those laws. Which means that we are protected by those laws.

Which also means that we need to learn those laws ASAP.
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by Formless » 2018-03-31 07:22pm

I think it should be noted that there seems to be two contradictory ideas present here: on one hand, you have the idea of an intergalactic society civilized enough to enact a set of conventions and laws to benefit the residents of the galaxy and enact a form of Prime Directive to keep some species from being exploited.

In the other hand, we have the idea of hyper-aggressive civilizations who are either very territorial and isolationist, or hyper expansionist and desiring control over all space, or a mixture of both. These are NOT the kinds of civilizations who leave you alone on principle, but the kind that tend to attack upcoming civilizations either to gain their resources or out of fear that they might become aggressive themselves. In this kind of setup, civilizations will tend to be at war with one another, or there will be an uneasy truce between the most significant powers a la the Cold War (which was actually a lot hotter than the name suggests).

Frankly, if it is the latter we will simply have to prepare for war and hope they've been keeping their distance because they know their advantages won't matter in a handful of human generations. Maybe they know that every so often a civilization spontaneously achieves a Singularity event and periodically overthrows an established power with self replicating berzerker probes; who knows. If it is the former, then we must ask a few questions: namely, now that we are capable of faster than light travel, what rights have we gained and what have we lost? Will we for example be allowed to colonize the Alpha Centauri system, since with only a few light years distance from us we can be pretty damn certain that it hasn't been exploited or colonized yet even without needing to visit there? I can see the nations of Earth deciding that for strategic reasons they will need to force the issue if necessary. Human nature won't change in that regard. Indeed, maybe it isn't colonized precisely because it is considered too close. How many other neonatal civilizations are out there that we will have to know about and not step on? Bear in mind that even a planet solely inhabited by bacteria might be deemed a wildlife reservation that, as civilized beings, we might be expected to avoid despite there being no intelligent life there. and also that if we allow Simon's logic we really can't be the last race to obtain FTL; merely the most recent. There must be others, otherwise you are throwing statistics to the wind. "We will find apes or angels, but not men." And moreover, over long periods of time there will be new life springing up on new planets. There will always be another civilization to come after even us.

This is why the distinction between the galaxy full of Warhammer 40K aliens is different from one controlled by a Galactic Federation: in a 40K setup, the galaxy is "claimed" in the sense that someone says they own it and fuck you if you dare fly too close. In the Federation setup, the galaxy is "claimed" in the sense that there are many, many reservations where you can't fly because of the Prime Directive and fears that you will violate the species rights of some assumed civilization not unlike our own that simply has not yet achieved FTL. And we need to know what that "species right" entails, including if there is a right to negotiate or whether this is simply a form of tyranny wearing a velvet glove. After all, its not as if the Prime Directive is a foolproof ethical concept. You won't find a direct analogue to it in Anthropological ethics, and with good reason. Well, except where fears of spreading disease to uncontacted tribes is a factor, but that's got nothing to do with rights and more to do with wellbeing.
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by Formless » 2018-03-31 07:27pm

Also, it totally matters how FTL works. Obviously if we can time travel, we can bypass a lot of issues. But equally, national borders are hard enough to patrol when there are only two dimensions to think about, imagine how hard it becomes when the square-cube law comes into effect. Remember, the galaxy can't be fully represented in two dimensions, so borders in space are 3d!
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by ray245 » 2018-03-31 07:31pm

Formless wrote:
2018-03-31 07:22pm
I think it should be noted that there seems to be two contradictory ideas present here: on one hand, you have the idea of an intergalactic society civilized enough to enact a set of conventions and laws to benefit the residents of the galaxy and enact a form of Prime Directive to keep some species from being exploited.

In the other hand, we have the idea of hyper-aggressive civilizations who are either very territorial and isolationist, or hyper expansionist and desiring control over all space, or a mixture of both. These are NOT the kinds of civilizations who leave you alone on principle, but the kind that tend to attack upcoming civilizations either to gain their resources or out of fear that they might become aggressive themselves. In this kind of setup, civilizations will tend to be at war with one another, or there will be an uneasy truce between the most significant powers a la the Cold War (which was actually a lot hotter than the name suggests).

Frankly, if it is the latter we will simply have to prepare for war and hope they've been keeping their distance because they know their advantages won't matter in a handful of human generations. Maybe they know that every so often a civilization spontaneously achieves a Singularity event and periodically overthrows an established power with self replicating berzerker probes; who knows. If it is the former, then we must ask a few questions: namely, now that we are capable of faster than light travel, what rights have we gained and what have we lost? Will we for example be allowed to colonize the Alpha Centauri system, since with only a few light years distance from us we can be pretty damn certain that it hasn't been exploited or colonized yet even without needing to visit there? I can see the nations of Earth deciding that for strategic reasons they will need to force the issue if necessary. Human nature won't change in that regard. Indeed, maybe it isn't colonized precisely because it is considered too close. How many other neonatal civilizations are out there that we will have to know about and not step on? Bear in mind that even a planet solely inhabited by bacteria might be deemed a wildlife reservation that, as civilized beings, we might be expected to avoid despite there being no intelligent life there. and also that if we allow Simon's logic we really can't be the last race to obtain FTL; merely the most recent. There must be others, otherwise you are throwing statistics to the wind. "We will find apes or angels, but not men." And moreover, over long periods of time there will be new life springing up on new planets. There will always be another civilization to come after even us.

This is why the distinction between the galaxy full of Warhammer 40K aliens is different from one controlled by a Galactic Federation: in a 40K setup, the galaxy is "claimed" in the sense that someone says they own it and fuck you if you dare fly too close. In the Federation setup, the galaxy is "claimed" in the sense that there are many, many reservations where you can't fly because of the Prime Directive and fears that you will violate the species rights of some assumed civilization not unlike our own that simply has not yet achieved FTL. And we need to know what that "species right" entails, including if there is a right to negotiate or whether this is simply a form of tyranny wearing a velvet glove. After all, its not as if the Prime Directive is a foolproof ethical concept. You won't find a direct analogue to it in Anthropological ethics, and with good reason. Well, except where fears of spreading disease to uncontacted tribes is a factor, but that's got nothing to do with rights and more to do with wellbeing.
In this scenario, assume humanity is the last civilisation to achieve FTL. Certain species might go extinct in the future and new sentient liveforms might arise, but this scenario is about humanity being the last at the point when we achieve FTL.
Also, it totally matters how FTL works. Obviously if we can time travel, we can bypass a lot of issues. But equally, national borders are hard enough to patrol when there are only two dimensions to think about, imagine how hard it becomes when the square-cube law comes into effect. Remember, the galaxy can't be fully represented in two dimensions, so borders in space are 3d!
Time travel is generally considered a big no-no. Take the assumption that changing the time isn't a realistic option.
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by Formless » 2018-03-31 07:43pm

ray245 wrote:
2018-03-31 07:31pm
In this scenario, assume humanity is the last civilisation to achieve FTL. Certain species might go extinct in the future and new sentient liveforms might arise, but this scenario is about humanity being the last at the point when we achieve FTL.
Why should we assume that? Statistically that would be inexplicable given what we have observed of the real Milky Way galaxy, and violates the argument Simon made earlier about regression to the mean. If our galaxy is abnormal in this regard, then I again suggest simply leaving for the Megallanic clouds and Andromeda. We cannot necessarily assume that our galaxy is representative when we only have one galaxy to observe. Its the same reason Astronomers don't like speculating on the likelihood of life on other planets based solely on what we know about Earth. Its a sample size of one.

You are trying to bypass the need to clarify which kind of galaxy we are actually talking about: a Federation style galaxy or a 40K type galaxy. But they are mutually exclusive scenarios, and your writings have indicated you are talking about both. Your RAR is therefore nonsensical.
Time travel is generally considered a big no-no. Take the assumption that changing the time isn't a realistic option.
A no-no in what way? It isn't possible? Because I would like to see how you justify that, given what the laws of physics say about FTL and time travel. Or is it forbidden by other species? In which case, why should humanity give a rats ass? I don't really care if time travel is non-standard in the space opera genre, because I don't think Space Opera logic meaningfully represents what would happen in this scenario. Space operas are written by people who know very little about science or astronomy.
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by ray245 » 2018-03-31 08:37pm

Formless wrote:
2018-03-31 07:43pm
Why should we assume that? Statistically that would be inexplicable given what we have observed of the real Milky Way galaxy, and violates the argument Simon made earlier about regression to the mean. If our galaxy is abnormal in this regard, then I again suggest simply leaving for the Megallanic clouds and Andromeda. We cannot necessarily assume that our galaxy is representative when we only have one galaxy to observe. Its the same reason Astronomers don't like speculating on the likelihood of life on other planets based solely on what we know about Earth. Its a sample size of one.
The point of this scenario is that it's not statistically probable?
You are trying to bypass the need to clarify which kind of galaxy we are actually talking about: a Federation style galaxy or a 40K type galaxy. But they are mutually exclusive scenarios, and your writings have indicated you are talking about both. Your RAR is therefore nonsensical.
Think of it as a Galactic consensus by all the space-faring civilizations. One way of avoiding conflict is to respect the rights of sentient species that have formed a civilization of some sort ( stone age civilization counts as sufficiently advanced) to their own solar system. If a solar system has no stone-age civilisations present, it's considered a fair game for FTL civilization to lay claim on it.

A no-no in what way? It isn't possible? Because I would like to see how you justify that, given what the laws of physics say about FTL and time travel. Or is it forbidden by other species? In which case, why should humanity give a rats ass? I don't really care if time travel is non-standard in the space opera genre, because I don't think Space Opera logic meaningfully represents what would happen in this scenario. Space operas are written by people who know very little about science or astronomy.
Forbidden in the sense that almost every advanced civilisation will come down hard on you for trying to mess up time. Also, there's a reason I posted this scenario in Science fiction as opposed to SLAM. If you don't accept the premise of the scenario, what's the point of complaining about it?
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by Formless » 2018-03-31 09:31pm

ray245 wrote:
2018-03-31 08:37pm
Formless wrote:
2018-03-31 07:43pm
Why should we assume that? Statistically that would be inexplicable given what we have observed of the real Milky Way galaxy, and violates the argument Simon made earlier about regression to the mean. If our galaxy is abnormal in this regard, then I again suggest simply leaving for the Megallanic clouds and Andromeda. We cannot necessarily assume that our galaxy is representative when we only have one galaxy to observe. Its the same reason Astronomers don't like speculating on the likelihood of life on other planets based solely on what we know about Earth. Its a sample size of one.
The point of this scenario is that it's not statistically probable?
Does not mean anything. Try again.
Think of it as a Galactic consensus by all the space-faring civilizations. One way of avoiding conflict is to respect the rights of sentient species that have formed a civilization of some sort ( stone age civilization counts as sufficiently advanced) to their own solar system. If a solar system has no stone-age civilisations present, it's considered a fair game for FTL civilization to lay claim on it.
So again, like I said on the last page, the "claims" are of the "we have it on paper" kind, and the civilizations in question are apparently conflict-averse. Setting aside that this contradicts the opening post, I repeat that claims by fiat are not impossible to contest. If humanity asserts a claim over the surrounding star systems which we have good reason even without FTL to believe are not being used by any other civilization, we need merely assert a species right to use them based on need for growth and security as well. And if any other civilization tries to claim those solar systems by fiat, they can find out how nasty we are as a species. After all, they are supposed to be risk-averse; humanity on the other hand is well known for its capacity for violence. And we are closer to Alpha Centauri then any of them. Even if we don't obtain it immediately, give it some time for humanity to build up its industry and military capabilities. We are closer, and humans do not accept tyranny blindly.

Forbidden in the sense that almost every advanced civilisation will come down hard on you for trying to mess up time. Also, there's a reason I posted this scenario in Science fiction as opposed to SLAM. If you don't accept the premise of the scenario, what's the point of complaining about it?
How the hell would they know we messed with time? Please explain that one.
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by Formless » 2018-03-31 10:34pm

Also, I'm not whining about the scenario. I'm very much engaging with it, but the one thing that I am criticizing is that there are inconsistencies between certain posts that suggest different scenarios to be engaged with rather than one singular scenario. Each is based on the same general idea, but differ significantly in the details and suggest different paths humanity could take in the long run. How aggressive the civilizations are changes humanity's options for responding to this state of affairs. For instance, if borders are porous enough we might just be able to slip into someone else's boarders without them even noticing, and take systems they aren't using without their notice. They might have greater things to worry about. And there is the possibility in a multi-polar galaxy to play different sides against one another; we may be the new kid on the block, but that does not mean we are powerless, and humans are very good politicians. Law and order, on the other hand, suggests the possibility of negotiation and possibly acquiring systems through trade and other means; for instance, if a civilization has solar systems they have not had the time to build up, they could be obtained if we promise to build them up and sell the resources exclusively to the former owner.

So specifics are necessary to engage with the situation properly, especially if the question is to be answered on a longer, multigenerational timescale. That's all.
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by ray245 » 2018-04-01 06:30am

Formless wrote:
2018-03-31 09:31pm
Does not mean anything. Try again.
Are you asking a fictional scenario to be scientific?
So again, like I said on the last page, the "claims" are of the "we have it on paper" kind, and the civilizations in question are apparently conflict-averse. Setting aside that this contradicts the opening post, I repeat that claims by fiat are not impossible to contest. If humanity asserts a claim over the surrounding star systems which we have good reason even without FTL to believe are not being used by any other civilization, we need merely assert a species right to use them based on need for growth and security as well. And if any other civilization tries to claim those solar systems by fiat, they can find out how nasty we are as a species. After all, they are supposed to be risk-averse; humanity on the other hand is well known for its capacity for violence. And we are closer to Alpha Centauri then any of them. Even if we don't obtain it immediately, give it some time for humanity to build up its industry and military capabilities. We are closer, and humans do not accept tyranny blindly.
The aliens are not averse to enforcing their own notions of sovereignty. They are not afraid of conflict, but they merely think that a species should have a right to their own Solar system and a right to claim any other systems with no civlisation.
How the hell would they know we messed with time? Please explain that one.
Insert techno-babble here. The premise is that time-travel is prohibited, be it an act of Q-like beings or some other advanced/powerful alien species that have the ability to regulate time travel.
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by Solauren » 2018-04-01 10:23am

One thing I'd like to know - how do we know the aliens we contacted are telling us the truth?

For all we know, it's just the ones nearest us trying to keep us contained so they can maintain an advantage over us.
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by Formless » 2018-04-01 04:36pm

ray245 wrote:Are you asking a fictional scenario to be scientific?
You could certainly try to acknowledge the concept of statistics, yes. Like I said before, our galaxy is just as likely to be an outlier as representative when we only have one galaxy to observe (which is itself reason to try and visit the nearest galaxies, or talk to someone who has already done so). Also, there seems to be no explanation in the scenario for the Fermi Paradox, which is not as simple to solve as saying there is a Prime Directive in place among the other civilizations of the galaxy. There must be some explanation for why no trace of them has been observed as of 2018 if literally every system we visit already has ships in orbit or is otherwise being exploited. Otherwise, the explanation defaults to these systems being claimed by the fiat of their governing species.
The aliens are not averse to enforcing their own notions of sovereignty. They are not afraid of conflict, but they merely think that a species should have a right to their own Solar system and a right to claim any other systems with no civlisation.
Well then that gives us Alpha Centauri, and likely hundreds of other systems within our immediate vicinity. If they want them, they will have to obey our notions of sovereignty and not the other way around. And our notions of sovereignty are very much power based-- your territory is what others concede to you for whatever reason, whether by force or by politics. With very territorial aliens, its likely to involve force or duplicity. With legalistic aliens, its likely to be politics and trade. Either way, there are ways humanity will be able to potentially expand even if everywhere we look someone has a sign up saying it belongs to them. Our way of thinking has a certain logic to it that I think they will find... persuasive.

Again, once we realize that power differentials between ourselves and the rest of the galaxy won't remain static for very long. Right now we might fear visiting aliens because we are bound to a single planet, but once we have FTL we will certainly be better established in space and more sure of out technological abilities. Just something to keep in mind.

Though honestly, once civilization truly gets into space the idea of Westphalian sovereignty is likely to disappear as an obsolete and inapplicable concept anyway. Like I said, the notion of borders works best in two dimensions, as three dimensional borders are likely too prohibitive to patrol for incursions. Space opera writers often forget that galaxies aren't truly flat. They are just wider than they are tall.
Insert techno-babble here. The premise is that time-travel is prohibited, be it an act of Q-like beings or some other advanced/powerful alien species that have the ability to regulate time travel.
Fine, fine. Just remember to be up front about this next time you think about time travel. Like it or not, conventional physics prohibits FTL because of time travel.
Solauren wrote:One thing I'd like to know - how do we know the aliens we contacted are telling us the truth?

For all we know, it's just the ones nearest us trying to keep us contained so they can maintain an advantage over us.
Agreed. That's why I assume that humanity will take an aggressive stance against any species that overstates claims over parts of space they clearly aren't using, especially those star systems closest to Sol. Our own definitions of sovereignty require borders to be defended with violence, which is why war so often breaks out over contested territory and overlapping claims. Rarely does a peace settle where multiple parties share a single area-- more often a place gets divided to satisfy both parties, or declared neutral to all parties as happened in Antarctica and the solar system's other celestial bodies. At least, for now.
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by ray245 » 2018-04-01 04:51pm

Formless wrote:
2018-04-01 04:36pm
You could certainly try to acknowledge the concept of statistics, yes. Like I said before, our galaxy is just as likely to be an outlier as representative when we only have one galaxy to observe (which is itself reason to try and visit the nearest galaxies, or talk to someone who has already done so). Also, there seems to be no explanation in the scenario for the Fermi Paradox, which is not as simple to solve as saying there is a Prime Directive in place among the other civilizations of the galaxy. There must be some explanation for why no trace of them has been observed as of 2018 if literally every system we visit already has ships in orbit or is otherwise being exploited. Otherwise, the explanation defaults to these systems being claimed by the fiat of their governing species.
I fully accept this scenario as being rather unplausible. The question is what do you think humanity should do given this scenario.
Well then that gives us Alpha Centauri, and likely hundreds of other systems within our immediate vicinity. If they want them, they will have to obey our notions of sovereignty and not the other way around. And our notions of sovereignty are very much power based-- your territory is what others concede to you for whatever reason, whether by force or by politics. With very territorial aliens, its likely to involve force or duplicity. With legalistic aliens, its likely to be politics and trade. Either way, there are ways humanity will be able to potentially expand even if everywhere we look someone has a sign up saying it belongs to them. Our way of thinking has a certain logic to it that I think they will find... persuasive.

Again, once we realize that power differentials between ourselves and the rest of the galaxy won't remain static for very long. Right now we might fear visiting aliens because we are bound to a single planet, but once we have FTL we will certainly be better established in space and more sure of out technological abilities. Just something to keep in mind.

Though honestly, once civilization truly gets into space the idea of Westphalian sovereignty is likely to disappear as an obsolete and inapplicable concept anyway. Like I said, the notion of borders works best in two dimensions, as three dimensional borders are likely too prohibitive to patrol for incursions. Space opera writers often forget that galaxies aren't truly flat. They are just wider than they are tall.
Think of the "borders" as the spherical limit around the sun. You can try and use force, but bear in mind that all other aliens will make use of force to enforce their own borders and they are far more advanced than humanity.
Fine, fine. Just remember to be up front about this next time you think about time travel. Like it or not, conventional physics prohibits FTL because of time travel.
We aren't dealing with actual physics in this scenario. I know FTL involves time travel in some manner, but that's not what we are concerned with.

Agreed. That's why I assume that humanity will take an aggressive stance against any species that overstates claims over parts of space they clearly aren't using, especially those star systems closest to Sol. Our own definitions of sovereignty require borders to be defended with violence, which is why war so often breaks out over contested territory and overlapping claims. Rarely does a peace settle where multiple parties share a single area-- more often a place gets divided to satisfy both parties, or declared neutral to all parties as happened in Antarctica and the solar system's other celestial bodies. At least, for now.
For the purpose of this scenario, assume the aliens are telling the truth and any attempt to cross into the systems without any authorization belonging to any alien civilisation will result in a big warship warning you to leave immediately or be destroyed. So there's no such thing as a peaceful exploration into any systems in the Milky Way. You will always need permission just to enter any solar system, which may or may not be granted depending on which species/civilisation you encounter.
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-04-01 06:28pm

At some point, an improbable and contra-common-sense or counterfactual enough scenario becomes a problem that collapses under its own weight. You can't just say "I know it's unrealistic for everyone in the world to suddenly start behaving this way, I'm talking about what would happen if everyone did," and NOT expect a certain number of people to just walk away rather than engage with the absurd scenario.

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Formless wrote:
2018-04-01 04:36pm
You could certainly try to acknowledge the concept of statistics, yes. Like I said before, our galaxy is just as likely to be an outlier as representative when we only have one galaxy to observe...
Ahem. Point of order... uh, firstly, that isn't really true, given the definition of 'outlier.' Outliers are by definition rare. If you observe one and only one galaxy, the odds are much higher that it is typical and near the average, as opposed to being atypical and far from average. When you only have one data point, the most likely interpretation is "this data point is probably, though obviously not necessarily," representative. It's still very much worth gathering more information, but in practice, most of the time, a single random data point drawn from a large sample will be somewhere close to the mean.

Secondly, a galaxy isn't one data point about the behavior of intelligent species any more than a bowl of water is one data point about the behavior of water molecules. A galaxy will contain many species and billions of stars, and each of them represents a single data point for purposes like "is it normal for an intelligent species to be xenophobic?" For an entire galaxy to be a major outlier on something like that would be the equivalent of flipping a coin over and over and getting 'heads' substantially more than average: it's very unlikely. If you flip the coin twenty times, the odds of you getting fifteen heads and five tails are very slim.

If we encounter ONLY ONE species around us and they're xenophobic, it's believable that we're just unlucky and have neighbors who are a bunch of jerks.

If we encounter 100 species throughout the galaxy and they're all xenophobic, it is very unlikely that the next galaxy over will turn out to have 100 friendly species and no xenophobes. Unless, of course, we can specifically think of something about our galaxy that would explain such a skewed distribution (the equivalent of showing that all your coin tosses with THIS coin were rigged, so it proves nothing about tosses made with the next coin).
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by ray245 » 2018-04-01 06:43pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-04-01 06:28pm
At some point, an improbable and contra-common-sense or counterfactual enough scenario becomes a problem that collapses under its own weight. You can't just say "I know it's unrealistic for everyone in the world to suddenly start behaving this way, I'm talking about what would happen if everyone did," and NOT expect a certain number of people to just walk away rather than engage with the absurd scenario.

Remember Archinist?
Of course. The problem is assuming this scenario is entirely based on real-world physics as opposed to an imaginary set of rules about the premise. If Star Wars and other sci-fi series can avoid time-travel as a major part of the setting, I don't see why we should take things like time travel into account?

The way I see it, most of the premise given are consistent, and I'll be happy to clarify any contradictions. I don't see much contradiction in my premise, as it's effectively "Aliens respect the rights of intelligent species to own their own system, but at the same time, any system with no intelligent species is fair game for anyone to lay claims on. Whoever is first wins the right to the system. Anyone that tries to take over that system is frowned upon by the rest of the Galactic community."

Think of it as the Western Imperialism that tries to claim as much land as possible and as quickly as possible, but this time they only restrict themselves to genuinely unclaimed lands.
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by Solauren » 2018-04-01 06:59pm

Okay, so, all in our galaxy are claimed.

Probing to map the galaxy, even just from interstellar space, is still viable.
Can we detect their starships using our sensor tech at the time? Or is everyone under stealth most of the time?

If we probe everywhere, we might be able to find uninhabited star systems.

Also, what are the salvage rules like? I mean, if we find someone's warship adrift without life-signs and board it, and it's actually abandoned, can we keep it?
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by ray245 » 2018-04-01 07:10pm

Solauren wrote:
2018-04-01 06:59pm
Okay, so, all in our galaxy are claimed.

Probing to map the galaxy, even just from interstellar space, is still viable.
As long as the probes are not in the system belonging to other aliens.
Can we detect their starships using our sensor tech at the time? Or is everyone under stealth most of the time?

If we probe everywhere, we might be able to find uninhabited star systems.
Let's just say there are no instances where a system claimed by an alien civilisation is unguarded. Even the most lightly guarded places are far beyond humanity's technological abilities to attack or claim.
Also, what are the salvage rules like? I mean, if we find someone's warship adrift without life-signs and board it, and it's actually abandoned, can we keep it?
If it is unclaimed, it's free for all. But good luck fighting with more advanced salvage crews.
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by Formless » 2018-04-01 10:59pm

Simon_Jester wrote:Ahem. Point of order... uh, firstly, that isn't really true, given the definition of 'outlier.' Outliers are by definition rare. If you observe one and only one galaxy, the odds are much higher that it is typical and near the average, as opposed to being atypical and far from average. When you only have one data point, the most likely interpretation is "this data point is probably, though obviously not necessarily," representative. It's still very much worth gathering more information, but in practice, most of the time, a single random data point drawn from a large sample will be somewhere close to the mean.
No, Simon, you cannot compute a mean and therefore make a prediction of probability from a single data point. That is literally how statistics does and doesn't work. Averages only apply to statistical samples. In order to gather that sample and decide whether the Milky Way is a representative galaxy as far as interspecies relations goes, you need to go to other galaxies. The problem with assuming that the Milky Way is normal or average rather than peculiar and unusual is that there are civilizations here with FTL and apparent galactic norms. How those norms came into existence is more likely a result if particular interactions between the earliest species to achieve FTL and encounter each other. In the same way that every individual human is a unique byproduct of their upbringing, we can equally expect each galaxy to be a product of the initial encounters between FTL capable species. More so, in fact, because at least every human shares some DNA and evolutionary history. Aliens from other planets don't have that commonality, let alone other galaxies.

This is exactly the same reason astronomers caution that we cannot predict alien behavior solely from human behavior. We cannot assign a probability of any one human behavior being normal or abnormal without any other point of comparison. Only a few predictions can be made because they aren't statistical predictions: for instance, that other life will likely be carbon based and water based is a simple matter of chemistry and our observation of how common those elements are in the universe. We can predict how their technology will work in a broad sense because it will work under the same physical constraints as our own. But the specifics of their biology and the purpose of their technology could very well be, well, alien to us.
Secondly, a galaxy isn't one data point about the behavior of intelligent species any more than a bowl of water is one data point about the behavior of water molecules. A galaxy will contain many species and billions of stars, and each of them represents a single data point for purposes like "is it normal for an intelligent species to be xenophobic?" For an entire galaxy to be a major outlier on something like that would be the equivalent of flipping a coin over and over and getting 'heads' substantially more than average: it's very unlikely. If you flip the coin twenty times, the odds of you getting fifteen heads and five tails are very slim.

If we encounter ONLY ONE species around us and they're xenophobic, it's believable that we're just unlucky and have neighbors who are a bunch of jerks.

If we encounter 100 species throughout the galaxy and they're all xenophobic, it is very unlikely that the next galaxy over will turn out to have 100 friendly species and no xenophobes. Unless, of course, we can specifically think of something about our galaxy that would explain such a skewed distribution (the equivalent of showing that all your coin tosses with THIS coin were rigged, so it proves nothing about tosses made with the next coin).
The mistake here is treating galactic relations only as a result of the random evolutionary traits of individual species rather than seeing the state of galactic affairs in transactional terms. The state of the galaxy needs to be seen as a system whose current conditions are the result of particular interactions between different civilizations prior to us. This is especially true if we were left alone for reasons of principle such as the Prime Directive or an acknowledged set of rights young civilizations are afforded by the galactic community. Each galaxy may very well have a different character, a different system that arose differently from our own. The initial conditions matter greatly to systems as large as this. The earliest encounters could have been highly hostile or equitable, and both results can have a snowball effect where new civilizations tend to follow the example of those who came before them. If survival is on the line, they may feel they have no choice.

To put it another way, you are committing the Fundamental Attribution Error. We tend to think of other people's behavior as being a product only of their personality, where we act like our own behavior is a product only of our situation. The clear disconnect is why its called an error; clearly other people react to their situation too, and if personality is an important variable there must be a reason we are oblivious to the effect it has on ourselves. Sometimes we apply the same mistaken logic to whole groups of people. In this case the people are both hypothetical in existence and alien to the Earth on top of that, but it is still the same mistake. There must be a reason those other civilizations act this way, and it can't solely be due to their evolutionary history (for lack of a better term). Their behavior doesn't exist in a vacuum.
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by Formless » 2018-04-01 11:14pm

ray245 wrote:For the purpose of this scenario, assume the aliens are telling the truth and any attempt to cross into the systems without any authorization belonging to any alien civilisation will result in a big warship warning you to leave immediately or be destroyed. So there's no such thing as a peaceful exploration into any systems in the Milky Way. You will always need permission just to enter any solar system, which may or may not be granted depending on which species/civilisation you encounter.
Peace under such conditions will only last until some jackass tries to test us for shits and giggles, because it wouldn't be like this if such tests were uncommon among FTL capable civilizations. Now that we have FTL, someone will want to know if we can protect our sphere of sovereignty just like everyone else apparently does. No matter how outgunned we are at the start, we will either die or adapt and seek to improve our technology until it is sufficient to defend or even attack. Plain and simple. From there, if they are unreasonable about sharing the galaxy, humans are dirty thieves and capable warmongers. I say that without pride or judgement; it is our nature to desire what we don't have, share with those who we find agreeable, and hate those who hoard a public good for themselves.
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-04-04 04:26pm

Formless wrote:
2018-04-01 10:59pm
Simon_Jester wrote:Ahem. Point of order... uh, firstly, that isn't really true, given the definition of 'outlier.' Outliers are by definition rare. If you observe one and only one galaxy, the odds are much higher that it is typical and near the average, as opposed to being atypical and far from average. When you only have one data point, the most likely interpretation is "this data point is probably, though obviously not necessarily," representative. It's still very much worth gathering more information, but in practice, most of the time, a single random data point drawn from a large sample will be somewhere close to the mean.
No, Simon, you cannot compute a mean and therefore make a prediction of probability from a single data point. That is literally how statistics does and doesn't work. Averages only apply to statistical samples.
Firstly there's the issue of whether interactions among, say, fifty species constitutes one data point or many. But that's not directly responding to what you're saying here.

See, there's a higher level at which statistics can be used to make TENTATIVE estimates based on a limited data set. It is not something statisticians dogmatically refuse to do in real life. They just put qualifiers on, point out "we do not know" and then calculate the measure of their uncertainty, and so on.

There are, however, limits to what you can do with this.

For example, if Uber's robot car kills someone after four million road miles, it is reasonable to estimate that for the Uber car, the mean time to a pedestrian death is "probably between 0.4 and forty million miles per fatality." It could be that they were very lucky or very unlucky, but that's not the way to bet. You can't put an exact number on the mean time to failure without more data, but you can estimate and establish a range of values that almost certainly 'brackets' the true value.

At the same time, this is admittedly a far cry from assuming that a thing with many potential variables (a single first contact between two randomly selected species) can be assumed to be a representative member of its type.
In order to gather that sample and decide whether the Milky Way is a representative galaxy as far as interspecies relations goes, you need to go to other galaxies. The problem with assuming that the Milky Way is normal or average rather than peculiar and unusual is that there are civilizations here with FTL and apparent galactic norms. How those norms came into existence is more likely a result if particular interactions between the earliest species to achieve FTL and encounter each other. In the same way that every individual human is a unique byproduct of their upbringing, we can equally expect each galaxy to be a product of the initial encounters between FTL capable species. More so, in fact, because at least every human shares some DNA and evolutionary history. Aliens from other planets don't have that commonality, let alone other galaxies.
To be fair, if we assume that it was, say, the first two interacting species that set the stage for everything else, you are correct.

If it was the first fifty, not so much, because that's a big enough number to provide a meaningful sample size.

But to distinguish between the two cases one would have to study deep galactic history, very probably going back billions of years. Who were the first, and to what extent did the details of their psychology and interaction set the stage for the present day?
Secondly, a galaxy isn't one data point about the behavior of intelligent species any more than a bowl of water is one data point about the behavior of water molecules. A galaxy will contain many species and billions of stars, and each of them represents a single data point for purposes like "is it normal for an intelligent species to be xenophobic?" For an entire galaxy to be a major outlier on something like that would be the equivalent of flipping a coin over and over and getting 'heads' substantially more than average: it's very unlikely. If you flip the coin twenty times, the odds of you getting fifteen heads and five tails are very slim.

If we encounter ONLY ONE species around us and they're xenophobic, it's believable that we're just unlucky and have neighbors who are a bunch of jerks.

If we encounter 100 species throughout the galaxy and they're all xenophobic, it is very unlikely that the next galaxy over will turn out to have 100 friendly species and no xenophobes. Unless, of course, we can specifically think of something about our galaxy that would explain such a skewed distribution (the equivalent of showing that all your coin tosses with THIS coin were rigged, so it proves nothing about tosses made with the next coin).
The mistake here is treating galactic relations only as a result of the random evolutionary traits of individual species rather than seeing the state of galactic affairs in transactional terms. The state of the galaxy needs to be seen as a system whose current conditions are the result of particular interactions between different civilizations prior to us.
That is, to be fair, a valid point.
To put it another way, you are committing the Fundamental Attribution Error. We tend to think of other people's behavior as being a product only of their personality, where we act like our own behavior is a product only of our situation. The clear disconnect is why its called an error; clearly other people react to their situation too, and if personality is an important variable there must be a reason we are oblivious to the effect it has on ourselves. Sometimes we apply the same mistaken logic to whole groups of people. In this case the people are both hypothetical in existence and alien to the Earth on top of that, but it is still the same mistake. There must be a reason those other civilizations act this way, and it can't solely be due to their evolutionary history (for lack of a better term). Their behavior doesn't exist in a vacuum.
Well, it could be due to shared evolutionary history, but if so, humans are a very weird outlier species. There would have to be at least a plurality of species who were territorial enough that they force the whole galaxy into this strange paradigm of claiming everything and enforcing claims brutally, for fear of being squeezed out of existence by others who will behave that way and not respect others' right to behave differently.
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Re: Humanity invents FTL but every star system outside out our Solar System has been claimed by Aliens

Post by Patroklos » 2018-04-06 02:56am

This is essentially the setting of David Brin's uplift novels, where all of five galaxies are claimed and managed as either leased to species for use or left fallow to recover from such a lease.

There is inevitable churn because species have and arc, and they eventually retire to special areas or go extinct for various reasons making room for new ones. This is more predictable because species never evolve into space capable polities, they are always* uplifted by current spacers.

*EXCEPT one, the opening mystery....

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