SETI Re: non-communication between different levels of intellig

Richard Burke-Ward (
Fri, 4 Jun 99 09:29:28 +0000

Ron wrote: >We have a French friend interested in our topic. My French is very poor. >The article looks high level and good, any translators agree? It does indeed look interesting, Ron, though I have only had a very brief skim of pieces of it. A lot of letters are missing which makes it pretty hard going. Elisabeth Piotelat will doubtless make short work of it... In the meantime, it seems to me to be applying information theory to langauge, and asking whether ETI communication might have a similar fundamental structure to our own communication systems - i.e., particulate and linear. My French is not good, and I don't have access to a dictionary, but a very rough translation of the conclusion would read: "In my opinion the Cosmos is brimming with life, all on different evolutionary levels. In the scheme of cosmic life, ETI's who have succeeded in conquering their genetic and physical heritage are probably the ones who participate in intelligent interstellar communication. Lesser levels of intelligence, such as human intelligence, are very likely outside the the communication sphere of these ETI's. There is a kind of cosmic apartheid between advanced ETI's and more primitive species. If ETI visited Earth, it seems reasonable and highly probable to me that their method of communicating would be far beyond our own... [Gets a bit garbled here - one obscure phrase] ...there will not be a communication problem with people like us, simply because there is nothing to communicate. This is what we should expect." But in between, there is a lot of talk about linear versus non-linear communication, which is quite a hot topic. This is my own gloss to the article. Reading between the lines, I would suggest that the author is saying that evolution may produce linear communication systems (it's a lot easier to add one grunt to another than it is to produce, say, a fully-formed holographic system). But for truly advanced species, evolution is no longer the driving force behind their communication system any more than it drives their hpysiology or genetics. They are capable of reinventing themselves, and language is part of the deal. So an advanced species (and that's what we're all looking for) *may* have developed novel, non-linear, perhaps holographic or fractal, methods of communicating. These may be completely impossible for us to understand. He (she?) is right. Think of what communication system an intelligent machine might use. Or a system geared to 'brain-boxes' which allow brain (or sludge-nodes or whatever) to brain contact without the clumsiness of a transmitted language... different coding systems entirely. And with no linear logic to follow and attempt at decoding would have to process entire signals as gestalt entities. Frankly, this is not something we are up to. So we may never get further than detecting a carrier signal. Or standing face-to-tentacle and wondering what's going on in there... Richard

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