the Automat Hypothesis
Dreamed 2012/3/30 by Chris Wayan, one of eleven dreams that night!
A girl I know shows me dioramas of prehistoric New England. Not that they say so, but it seems likely from the broadleaf trees, low mountains, a broad river, maybe the Hudson. And megafauna. Mammoths. And more. Herds of grazing fauna SO mega they're like forests themselves.
Wait, these aren't miniature simulations--parallax says they're distant and their motion's too natural. I think this is a spacetime portal masquerading as a science exhibit! Or at least a spacetime window. Can we set it to Jurassic Africa, see dinosaurs? Imagine if it can reach that far back! So rich, so crazy... so uninhabitable by sentients. Just too many gigantic predators; even with tools, life back then was so chancy it'd be too short on average to build culture, learn to survive!
What if the early Sixth Extinction, the one we started 10,000 years ago, wasn't about food or inadvertent habitat destruction but... sheer self-defense? Killing off monsters that stomped us or ate us.
And yet... what of midsize social dinos--bigger than us, but small enough so tools and weapons would give them an edge against the big boys? They COULD have developed intelligence. Up until recently, there was a strong argument against it: no fossil evidence of any prehuman civilization. But now we realize that a tool-using intelligence would be geologically brief: it'll flower into a singularity, leave the biosphere entirely, and probably do its best to restore the pre-singularity incubator for the next baby. In DEEP time, true sentients (as opposed to half-baked primitives like us) CHOOSE to be low-impact; so sentience isn't easily tracked. "Take only photos, leave only footprints." Intelligence may have arisen MANY times already; we really wouldn't have noticed. With our prejudices.
And it makes me wonder if the Dino Holocaust was only an asteroid strike. Maybe some smallish dino finally got the right combo of dexterity and brains and sociability to master spears and fire--and killed off their predators (and big game), advanced in a geological flash, Singularitied, and decided to not to resurrect their duller kindred but leave Earth fertile but empty, giving mammals a chance--just for variety.
I picture these maiasaurs or large velociraptors fending off allosaurs to build a civilization and transcend the flesh...
...but, curiously, I picture them doing it in the concrete plaza by the Student Union Building at San Francisco State University! With vending machines full of those plastic sandwiches... that stuff would extinct anybody.
The Automat Hypothesis.
NOTES IN THE MORNING
Now, awake, I suspect my own low-impact approach to transcendence won't be universal. Plenty of geeks want to build star-size projects and will if they're allowed. Yet we haven't spotted ANY Dyson spheres or other giant structures out there. Does the Orion Arm have a neighborhood zoning law? Are transcendent species all NIMBY?
Or maybe this really is just the Dawn Age of sentience, and we're the best brains available. As the Thing would say, "What a revoltin' prospect!"
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