Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Fermi Paradox: The Stay at Home Hypothesis III (a.k.a., The Lotus Eater Hypothesis)

Lotus FlowerThe third SAHH suggests that, as species discover and develop virtual reality simulations, they eventually become so immersed in the simulations that they lose all interest in the external world. In such a scenario, the period between the development of radio communications and the rudiments of space travel, and the development of addictively immersive virtual realities is so short as to preclude the development of interstellar travel. Likewise, the potential period of communication would be so short as to make it unlikely that we would intercept a communication from another species before they turned permanently inward.

Critics argue that it is unjustifiably pessimistic to suppose that any species would choose to live in simulated worlds to the exclusion of the real world and that, even if we suppose that some might, it's unreasonable to suppose that all species would be so prone. Supporters of the third SAHH counter that it is reasonable to presume that all species are subject to pleasure and pain stimuli. Furthermore, they insist that it is equally reasonable to suppose that a world tailored to species' preferences is going to be far more capable of stimulating the pleasure of that species than the mundane universe. As such, permanent virtual addiction seems inevitable for all but those few species that eschew virtual reality at a very early stage in its development. They note that our own species seems to be tumbling down that path without any sign of slowing.

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