The Great Filter Hypothesis

Titan_Atlas

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In the past we have discussed what the great filter might be.

My hypothesis is that the great filter is humanity in complex systems and reward. Complex systems actually reward dishonesty, cheating and corruption.

Whether you believe in Christianity or are an atheist you can see this in action. Though I believe religion either through smaller populations at the time or Gods message saw this potential.

In a more traditional system the smallest scale of order is the family. Then the community. Within the family dishonesty or cheating is more controlled and punished. Within the community cheating people in business or lying to your neighbors is also punished.

In larger more complex systems the rewards for this behavior shift. I think our founding fathers situationally understood this but also were in a sparsely populated continent. They had a natural decentralization in place and took steps to protect it.

We've seen the war on the family unit for 80 years largely funded by the elites. The Rockefeller foundation and the Ford foundation being principles. The Federal Reserve being a centralizing figure for this stands out also. I am not supposing the groups involved fully understand this concept, more that greed and the success achieved through this corruption of localized morality benefits and consolidates their power.

I am positing that the larger and more complex the system, the more centralized. It begins rewarding behavior that existencially destroys the host.
 

Phazael

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Read up on heuristics. Lithose has extensive posts on the subject, but the short version is our ape brains cannot handle social circles beyond a certain size without employing numerous shortcuts. Smart (and often unscrupulous) people learn to exploit these shortcuts in others for personal gain. Any sort of mass manipulation begins with one guy understanding these mental shortcuts enough to get large numbers of people behave in a desired way.

The other half of this is why communism never works on a large scale. In small groups, our brains can manage social information on the entire group and adjust to someone not behaving in good faith. Once the mental shortcuts kick in, because the size of the group is larger, its harder to both identify and correct bad actors in a group. This is ultimately why complex systems seem to reword negative behavior, because ultimately human empathy makes us give a lot of second chances we should not. The only real counterbalance is a system of vast homogeneous conformity, like many militaries or a lot of the monolithic western Christian Judeo cultures are that drill discipline and conformity into people to the point that they are essentially interchangeable between groups, backed by self policing. The downside to those is that it can stifle innovation and cultural advancement by over-rewarding conformity.

This is ultimately why regulated Capitalism is so successful, because it rewards both the ambitious and those who conform, while scaling with the size of the group. It also adapts to the times, with rewarding whatever resource was most needed by the culture at the time. This would be food in the early times, to energy in the industrial ages, to raw information itself in the modern era. Capitalism has other problems, but until resource scarcity is solved (if ever) it remains the most viable social, economic, and cultural system. Unfortunately if you are one of those globalist elite types, it can get in the way of your exploitation of the ape brain shortcut of the masses. So we see shit like you are describing because the biggest flaw of any system (including capitalism) is that they usually do not take into account how much people will act in their own self interest, particularly those in stronger social positions.

But this is all bullshit mental masturbation dancing around the core truth that there are too many fucking people and we are consistently letting the dumbest and the worst outbreed the productive ones. Eugenics is actually the logical solution, but completely impossible with self interested people with a firm grasp on the levers of power. In short, we are a species designed to fail, a living monument to the Fermi Paradox.
 

Phazael

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Short answer yes. Complicated answer is once you know how Heuristics work, even on a basic level, none of this becomes surprising and it becomes very hard not to be a cynical nihilist. Sort of how people who know the science behind music theory not enjoying music as much, because you have peaked behind the curtain and seen how the sausage is made. Once seen and understood, it dominates how you analyze everything.
 
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spronk

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Conflict between human societies is not new and has wiped out countless civilizations, humanity has thrived like never before. The great filter would be some sort of technology that enables completely erasing every single human being from the planet, like a virus spread from animals to humans that mutates or the invention of WMDs that anyone can build off the shelf (3d printing) and cause massive amounts of destruction - micro black holes, zero point energy bombs, something that folds 4D space into 2D, AIs that inadvertently wipe out humanity, etc.

Just humans fighting each other isn't the new thing, or civilizations destroying other civilizations. Thats the march of progress and Survival of the Fittest in action. If anything, we have managed to surpress that survival system in society for too long, which is why we have so much degenerates around like LGBT, welfare queens, social media influencers, thott twitch streamers, and a high percentage of people who don't do real work.

In the past an external force will come around and wipe out the hedonistic, weak society and thats likely going to happen to us in the 21st century, but it would just be replacing the USA as a world power with someone new, not "the great filter". A sudden and new technology would need to arise that we could not control.
 

Phazael

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What you say about human conflict is largely true. What is unique now is watching the most powerful civilization in history (with access to the some of all human knowledge literally at its fingertips, abundant wealth, abundant energy, and near total global supremacy) completely destroy itself from the inside with limited outside forces acting on it, comparatively. It is truely fucking amazing, objectively. Complacency has destroyed other dominant empires, but there was always an outside influence and never the kind of resources at its disposal.

One thing the Trump presidency has shown, whether you believe him to be Hitler or not, is that one man acting as the head of state (even in the form of benevolent dictator) cannot keep the empire on the straight and narrow once it reaches a certain size. The middle men eventually destroy even modest efforts to keep things growing, due to greed or incompetency. China has managed to stave off this fate by leeching off of other societies wealth and knowledge, but they have huge fucking problems and basically implode every couple decades because they cannot do a smooth transition from one authoritarian to the next without a lot of murder hobo action. Russia contracted from its USSR form, which also basically bankrupted itself trying to stay in our rear view mirror. Both were ethnocentric societies with monolithic cultural rules, for the most part. Both are also rife with corruption to the point where its been institutionalized. And China has had to employ control mechanisms on its populace that would make Orwell weep just to keep the charade up.

We were ok until the 1960s, where a combination of breakdown of family values (Birth Control, Sexual Revolution, Rampant Civil disobedience), a massive population explosion (WW2 Boomers), and a mini color revolution (Civil Rights Movement) broke the populace's faith in the system and self interest became elevated above civic duty in the average person. The 90s and 2000s poured gasoline on the fire. Now with the internet, people do not learn discipline and trust in the society, but are rather fed whatever narcisistic version of world view they already follow in a feedback loop. The weak are lionized and the strong are jealously ostracized. When the Berlin Wall fell we lost the last scraps of unity we had against an outside force and everything turned in on itself. We are literally destroying ourselves because our overly complex and largely on autopilot civilization has nothing better to do with itself.
 

Sadre Spinegnawer

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The weak are lionized and the strong are jealously ostracized.
slave revolts of values, Nietzsche called them. But they happen. They suck, but they can't be stopped. Nietzsche thought he figured out how to stop the constant cycle of this rise and fall -- of the rise of "great types" that then get inverted by a slave revolt as they call who they are "good" (meek, gentle, obedient) and their former masters bad (dominating, confident) -- but he was fucked in the head, imo. These cycles just keep repeating. It's history. Things get built then they fade away or get reversed.

I would love to know the actual number of functionally literate (9th grade lvl minimum) there are in the country. But that is because we turned being literate into something to be shunned. And, technology doing its bit, also functionally obsolete with every passing decade.

And the literate -- those who are studied in books, but also lore, and maps, and history, and geography, and weather, and how to track an animal -- are out of step. You can be focused -- you can know one thing, like how to pull the lever correctly -- but you can't be literate. Literacy implies broadness. Someone who only knows about one battle in the Civil war does not know history. Someone who only knows one time does not know lore. Someone who only knows one way does not understand maps.
 

Titan_Atlas

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slave revolts of values, Nietzsche called them. But they happen. They suck, but they can't be stopped. Nietzsche thought he figured out how to stop the constant cycle of this rise and fall -- of the rise of "great types" that then get inverted by a slave revolt as they call who they are "good" (meek, gentle, obedient) and their former masters bad (dominating, confident) -- but he was fucked in the head, imo. These cycles just keep repeating. It's history. Things get built then they fade away or get reversed.

I would love to know the actual number of functionally literate (9th grade lvl minimum) there are in the country. But that is because we turned being literate into something to be shunned. And, technology doing its bit, also functionally obsolete with every passing decade.

And the literate -- those who are studied in books, but also lore, and maps, and history, and geography, and weather, and how to track an animal -- are out of step. You can be focused -- you can know one thing, like how to pull the lever correctly -- but you can't be literate. Literacy implies broadness. Someone who only knows about one battle in the Civil war does not know history. Someone who only knows one time does not know lore. Someone who only knows one way does not understand maps.
This was a solid post. Keep it up.
 
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Titan_Atlas

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Conflict between human societies is not new and has wiped out countless civilizations, humanity has thrived like never before. The great filter would be some sort of technology that enables completely erasing every single human being from the planet, like a virus spread from animals to humans that mutates or the invention of WMDs that anyone can build off the shelf (3d printing) and cause massive amounts of destruction - micro black holes, zero point energy bombs, something that folds 4D space into 2D, AIs that inadvertently wipe out humanity, etc.

Just humans fighting each other isn't the new thing, or civilizations destroying other civilizations. Thats the march of progress and Survival of the Fittest in action. If anything, we have managed to surpress that survival system in society for too long, which is why we have so much degenerates around like LGBT, welfare queens, social media influencers, thott twitch streamers, and a high percentage of people who don't do real work.

In the past an external force will come around and wipe out the hedonistic, weak society and thats likely going to happen to us in the 21st century, but it would just be replacing the USA as a world power with someone new, not "the great filter". A sudden and new technology would need to arise that we could not control.
A filter is not a complete destruction. It is a spot your particular part can't surpass.
 
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Cukernaut

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A filter is not a complete destruction. It is a spot your particular part can't surpass.
Great thread.

If you get stuck you are statistically guarunteed destruction eventually by the heat death of the sun, a meteor, etc.. So its the same thing.

Social media and smartphones is a limbic stimulator and is destabilizing society and may be one such filter. I have noticed a very clear shift with technology and phones. Having a world that moves without you in your pocket (smartphones and social media) is really short circuiting people in a bad way. I blocked everything on my phone short of phone, text message, maps, and my pager for work (i blocked emails, browser, social media) -- and my consumption went down 70%.

Finite resources dictate the need for capitalism as long as they are finite and there is competition. We need guided capitalism towards becoming a multi planet species asap.
 
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Cukernaut

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A better question I have pondered is this. If you truly believe and understand the great filter -- then you are probably disturbed to the degree of some type of action or desire for action to pass the next filter. I feel like I have a generational burden of thousands of my ancestors scraping through caves to do so and make sure their contributions and suffering werent for nothing.

What could be mapped out as practical improvements to move the needle towards a populace with the will and wherewithal to become a multi-planet species? This is a really interesting and multi-faceted topic. Education? Energy? Space travel (obviously)? Etc.
 

Rude

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Come on, Biden winning isn't extinction level bad.
I doubt most reasonable people are concerned over that, especially since the legislative branch will more than likely continue to stay deadlocked. It's the predictable fuckery with the counting of votes, mail in and other shit. If you weren't a dimwit you'd realize that, but then again you also wouldn't have made this post I'm responding to.
 
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pharmakos

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pharmakos

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Come on, Biden winning isn't extinction level bad.

its just as laughable as the people that thought Trump was going to be extinction level bad. four years later and we're still here.
 

Aaron

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In short, this is why I have given up on the idea that we will ever become a true, successful, spacefaring civilisation. And by that I don't mean sending a few satellites up into orbit and maybe landing a man on a few planets. I mean true spacefaring in actually colonizing other planets and solar systems, large numbers of people living and working in outer space, and shit like that. We're stuck here with our monkey brains and monkey behavior. Whining about our emotions and feelings until a giant meteor comes and puts us out of our missery.
 

Xequecal

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My take: No great filter. Universe has intelligent life on millions of planets, they're all just too far away from each other to ever find each other since FTL is impossible.
 
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Phazael

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I would love to know the actual number of functionally literate (9th grade lvl minimum) there are in the country. But that is because we turned being literate into something to be shunned. And, technology doing its bit, also functionally obsolete with every passing decade.

And the literate -- those who are studied in books, but also lore, and maps, and history, and geography, and weather, and how to track an animal -- are out of step. You can be focused -- you can know one thing, like how to pull the lever correctly -- but you can't be literate. Literacy implies broadness. Someone who only knows about one battle in the Civil war does not know history. Someone who only knows one time does not know lore. Someone who only knows one way does not understand maps.
I have found most of the latter of your post anecdotally true, for sure. Part of it is echo chambers. As a young white kid growing up in rural whitey Wisconsin, my mind just assumed everyone was literate because everyone I had ever interacted with or been exposed to was literate. Conversely, a poor kid growing up in an urban jungle (or worse) environment is going to believe that far fewer people are literate because a significantly lesser percentage of people they are interacting with are literate. And both will carry that assumption into adulthood at least, believing it to be undeniably true. Which it is, but only in their little bubble. The broadness you are talking about is looking and, ideally, interacting beyond that bubble to learn more data then incorporating it into your personal world view.

Very few people do this and, ironically perhaps, the internet has actually made these bubbles more insular. People are less receptive to new ideas and information now than they were as recently as two decades ago. This is because the internet, combined with those little mental shortcuts that keep us from going insane, strengthens affirmed belief and creates larger networks of shared views instead of people mingling and expanding their views, at least in general. And worse than that, as you pointed out, people are replacing actual world applicable knowledge learned through practice and study with the google search box. I do not think this was how the internet was intended, but it is how it has ended up and people are rolling with it.

My hypothesis on this: The typical person, even very smart ones, are still so governed by tribal instincts that their minds avoid exposure to alien ideas in favor of seeking out self affirmation. This is probably a result of our brains fairly limited ability to parse large social groups in detail and a coping mechanism for information overload so we don't go nuts. So we are left with a situation where the only way views change is through force, be it forced assimilation or wiping out the opposing view. And once a particular prevailing view is dominant enough that it has no competition, no one questions it anymore and we start destroying ourselves from within. Fucking depressing and I agree with the whole "we are not getting into space" opinion based on this. I frankly do not see a solution that is not arrived at very horrifically, from a moral viewpoint.
 

Cukernaut

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The degree to which everyone whom understands it

A) acknowledges it
B) rolls over with no solution

is fucking disturbing to me and should be to you too. Comments above about monkey politics and then subsequent resignation are just illustrative examples of why we are doomed the way things are. Need to change something.
 

spronk

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My take: No great filter. Universe has intelligent life on millions of planets, they're all just too far away from each other to ever find each other since FTL is impossible.

the problem with this theory, and why there even may not be intelligent life on other planets, is the Von Neumann problem. We can imagine right now building small machines that can duplicate themselves (replication) from simple asteroids and spend 100,000 years traveling under FTL to another solar system, basically accelerating under solar power, going dead, and decelerating when it hits solar power again. Honestly if we tried really, really, really hard we could probably do it in 10 years but it should definitely be doable in 100-200 years. Sure, hand waving away "a machine lands on an asteroid and builds 1000 copies of itself" is a bit silly but there's no theoretical reason why it won't be doable.

Within 1 million years just simple replication should have trillions of tiny machines all over the galaxy. They could just be basic smartphones, just taking a few photos and sending the data out on radio waves in random directions, just as a sort of "yoooo... check all this shit out!" redneck tourist data dump, blasting radio signals all over the galaxy.

With 13.7 BILLION years (like 10,000 cycles of such a civilization) we see zero evidence of anything like this happening... anywhere... ever. No one has ever tried? Kinda weird. Sure, you can say 99% of possible aliens have zero interest in exploring, most fight each in wars, many die off to a great filter, etc but with millions of possible civilizations, one, every now and then, should be sending out trillions of probes. None.

The other interesting sci fi idea though is that we are still at the early, early, early stages of the universe. We're at 13.7 billion years. What if the universe lasts for 100,000,000 trillion years? Literally we are still in the infancy stages of the universe, and long after we're dead and gone the "true" universe will begin to emerge and will take shape in ways we cannot fathom or understand, due to dark energy, dark matter, etc.