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A Quarantine of Intelligence

A Quarantine of Intelligence

Human history is a dismal record of failure to expand ethical considerations beyond the self. We have left a trail of hundreds of millions of lives lost in warfare, torture, and enslavement of various kinds. We have a well established track record of making poor decisions based on personal interest and without regard to consequences.

Humanity is on the verge of an explosive breakaway moment in intelligence growth and corresponding hyper trends in new technologies. All technology amplifies effort and turns bad effort into worse outcomes and good effort into better outcomes. There is no doubt that we will use our new abilities to accomplish great things and ensure a thriving future for our civilization. But there also is no doubt that this will be a dangerous time as dark forces try to use advanced knowledge to make quick gains.

Since advanced intelligence is needed to spark the breakthroughs, the individuals who accomplish those will also be capable of advanced ethical analysis which is similar to scientific reasoning and prediction. Inventors at the forefront of scientific advancement have always had dreams of purely benevolent use of their fruits. But followers have always found ways to pervert the dreams and misuse advancements.

Bad or even weak application of the new technologies in this case may result in outright catastrophe instead of just the normal litany of war, torture and enslavement. We no longer can afford to take the chance of an apocalyptic evil turn that has the potential to destroy humanity completely.

At some point, we will have to consider containment of specific knowledge and possibly a quarantine on expansion of intelligence without key requirements being met. A protocol to evaluate the ability and motivation to perform ethical analysis at a high level will become a prerequisite to being granted access to higher levels of awareness. Some of this protocol is already “built-in”, in that attempts to hijack higher intelligence without doing the foundation work that also produces higher ethics, often result in unforeseen consequences and backfires.

If we can predict this, so did other intelligent civilizations that have preceded us. As a civilization approaches the singularity explosion of intelligence growth and learns methods of controlling and containing it, attention will turn to also containing proliferation external to the source. With a rapid growth of technology, it becomes possible to outrun early information broadcasts and contain them too. Stone tablets, books and messages put into bottles and cast out to sea were easy to outrun, but light waves not so much. Science fiction has predicted some means of folding space, creating a “warp drive”, and moving from one position to another faster than light travels. The current information “bubble” from our planet is only about a hundred light years in diameter. Given several hundred more years to gain the ability to move beyond the limit of the bubble would provide the ability to contain it while it is still relatively small.

Any civilization that has self-embargoed information in this manner would become effectively invisible to our efforts to monitor the sky for signals. Intelligent civilizations are likely to have spawned all over the known universe and even be likely within our own galaxy, according to the Drake Equation. In short order (a few thousand years?), they would then disappear, creating the illusion they had never existed. (Fermi Paradox)

Any sufficiently advanced civilization that then discovered other growing civilizations might establish preemptive containment zones in case the growth is not benign and does not become self-contained. It is not difficult to tweak the Drake coefficients to predict a scenario that matches this.

As we near the ability to self-contain our own information bubble, it would be interesting to investigate the existence of a previously provided alien containment. In fact, the investigation of creating our own barrier and the discovery of one that already exists might meet an ethical standard for contact.

Nobody leaves this room until we are capable of understanding what a door is and decide to knock on it.

Imagine a Pea in a Swimming Pool
Singularity Theory May Explain Fermi Paradox
Drake Equation
Fermi Paradox

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