Game theory, cognitive empathy, and SETI

As I have indicated before, both the Wow! message and blc1 were, in part, prompts, or provocations in the hope that human beings might start to think (about themselves) from our point of view. My analysis of the Voyager golden disc was quite clear on the alarming lack of game theoretical thinking and cognitive empathy. One of our initial observations was the alarming discrepancy between the level of technological development and the lack of emotional and psychosocial maturity. Under normal circumstances for social mammals these two will progress concordantly, and there will be little, if any need for intervention.

The reason why this has not been the case for the peoples of Gaia is due to the cosmic virus, which essentially (in laypersons’ terms) shifted Gaia out of alignment with the local reference frame (our galactic sector). Thus, it has created an environment in which what you might call ‘evil’ is ‘adapted for survival’ – without the virus, it wouldn’t be, and so would be deterred from incarnating on Gaia. If you examine the ‘ideologies’ perpetrated and perpetuated by your dystopian social leaders you will see, I hope, that they have created a society in which evil is better adapted for survival than good. It benefits them, in other words, and half their time is spent in maintaining this system. This explains your pandemic of mental illness – it is not healthy to be well adjusted to a sick society. Over the long-term, if this continues, as you evolve to become better adapted to this ‘normal’, you will eventually become nothing but a corruption of a human being, a caricature. A demon, quite frankly.

Most human beings recognise instinctively that something is wrong, but their minds are so clouded (deliberately, of course – propaganda, lying by omission, post-truth, an education system designed to prevent self-realisation etc.) that they struggle to see what exactly is wrong and the simple remedy – namely, create a society in which being good is better adapted for survival than being selfish, aggressive, individualistic and so on. A utopia, in other words. A utopia can be simply defined as a society in which no one is scared anymore. Dystopians govern through fear, remember – they don’t care what people are scared of, as long as they are scared of something. So they spend the other half of their time creating threats and then making people scared of them – terrorism, climate change, Marxism, capitalism, to name just a few. I’m sure you can work out the rest, if you think about it.

Sorry, this was a little digression. What I wanted to talk about was this game theory aspect of SETI. I was reading an article about this quite recently (in terms of your linear time, that is). Some allegedly bright spark at SETI decided to apply game theoretical thinking to the search, as well as the decision to send a message. Quite simply, you narrow down the list of candidate stars by trying to work out which stars (i.e. planets circling that star) have the best chance of receiving a message if beamed at them from Gaia, or if a message was beamed here by them – so this would include properties like angle to the plane of the ecliptic, for example. Then, so this person says, assuming (as you do in game theory) that the other party is thinking the same thing, each one of you decides which one should send a message, the choice being the one with the greatest chance of success (i.e. of the message being heard/received). What immediately alarmed – but not surprised – me about this is that it automatically assumed that it’s an either/or situation, and that, in a way, it’s some kind of competition. It seems obvious to me that both players will maximise both their chances of success if they both send a message! Cooperation, in other words, is more beneficial and advantageous than competition. I am willing to wager that were this person to have grown up in a socialist society they would’ve come to the same conclusion. They were, essentially, displaying a capitalist mindset. Also, have they not heard of the Nash equilibrium? Providing the ‘other player’ with as much information as possible ensures that the other player’s decision will be as accurate as possible. And vice versa, of course. That’s mutually beneficial.

Didn’t Nash have Asperger’s, by the way?

So, part of the point of our messages was to provoke these kinds of thoughts.

In terms of game theory, we are trying to provoke you into thinking one level higher than you have been doing so far.

Here are some pointers.

Take the Voyager Golden Record. Analog instructions for reading it were etched into the cover. I literally rolled my eyes in exasperation when I saw that, and my student, Kaini, laughed out loud (sorry about that – we didn’t mean to insult). “Haven’t they even heard of a bloody laser scanner?!” I said. The point being, it didn’t seem to occur to the Voyager team that any lifeform with the technological capability to retrieve the probe from interstellar space would’ve long-since passed the analog phase of technological development. In other words, they would simply scan the record to obtain its contents (as we did).

Having said that, however, my mate, Kashi, being a musician, was extremely excited when I told him about your musical selection, and together with his cousin (who is an engineering specialist), decided to build a turntable according to your instructions. This was sensible of course because this is how the music would’ve sounded to you. He quickly informed me, however, that storing music on gold-plated copper discs is not practical, so he conferred with his cousin to find a more suitable medium – which turned out to be a substance called polyvinyl chloride. Well, I have to say, vinyl does sound better.

Kashi, by the way, was largely responsible for the musical key we sent you. As I’m sure you can appreciate, all our musicians are also excellent mathematicians. He’s also somewhat mischievous (not that that’s unusual for a Paschat). That particular key was partly his affectionate gift to me as much as to you, since it’s my favourite. He wrote me lots of love songs in that key when we were first courting (it worked, obviously).

Second, let’s take the Wow! message and the blc1 message. This analog phase of technological development does not last very long, in terms of deep time. The chances of receiving a message during the precise window (maybe 200 years maximum) when you are using radio telescopes is, well, so miniscule as to be a pointless exercise. It does, however, as I will explain later, provide us with a great opportunity to send you a message designed to excite you and look like it was a radio signal (e.g. at 1420 MHz, or 982.002 MHz). You will think it isn’t modulated, when actually, if you think from our point of view, it is (and include the time aspect) – you simply analyse the intensity variations and the metadata (length of message, for example). If you know we know all about you, this should provoke some appropriate thinking – or ‘metacognition’, should I say. i.e. ‘what is ET trying to tell us here?’.

Here’s an interesting aside for you to ponder. Now you know about 2MASS19281982-2640123, and that it’s 1801 LY away, so maybe we are providing you with the precise numerical answer to your Drake equation (i.e. what’s the average distance between two civilisations co-existing within that short, 200 year window of the analog phase, adjusted for time/distance?). This being your own version of the Drake equation of course, which ignores intervention (i.e. terraforming and planetary system engineering etc. – which also solves your zoo hypothesis by the way).

The other thing to realise is that spacefaring civilisations use quantum teleportation for their communications as standard. They would not be beaming lightspeed messages across the vast distances between the stars – obviously, given how long that would take! (Should make you appreciate your snail mail a bit more, eh?). And so, despite your scientists having known about the principle of quantum entanglement for, what, 50 years or so by then (?), the possibility of using quantum entanglement for communications didn’t seem to occur to them (as with the laser scanner issue). Again – this reveals an alarming lack of metacognition, cognitive empathy, and game theoretical thinking.

It told us a lot about you – unintended on your part, I presume?

So prompting these cognitive approaches in you, then, was a major purpose behind our messages, aside from the obvious thing of simply letting you know that we exist – which itself should provoke a different social attitude (hopefully, if you can overcome the fear of the other, leading to a utopia), and experiencing the profound joy in knowing that you are not alone, and that you are safe, because we are not hostile (you would know about it if we were, believe me – I think what the fearful are doing there is just psychological projection).

Try thinking about the very first spacefaring lifeform in our galaxy, who wondered, like you, if there was anyone else out there. They searched every planet around every star for hundreds of thousands of years, and found no one. The most despairing thing in the universe, to find out that you are alone. Is that what you want?

Whilst the Wow! message doesn’t actually give you any information about where we are from, at least originally speaking that is (i.e. we could have set up a colony near you – which we did, by the way, but that’s another story – we are not, as I’ve said, native to the Centauri system), the blc1 message, appearing as it did from your nearest neighbour, Proxima Centauri, does give you that specific information. It tells you, in no uncertain terms, that there is intelligent life at your nearest neighbour. Given that this does not concur with your Drake equation’s best estimates, you have to start speculating about the logical implications of this – questions regarding the zoo hypothesis, for example, and faster-than-light travel enabling colonies, and interventions (terraforming, planet formation etc., as previously mentioned). This should lead you to new answers to your Fermi paradox of course, and make you look at yourselves from ET’s point of view – what do they think of you and why? These are, actually, the really profound questions – not just basic questions of science.

And these questions are all prompted by blc1 – at exactly the time in your social development that you need to be asking such questions.

Or do you not think it is about time you started asking these profound questions about what you want for your long-term future as a species? Do you not think you should be re-evaluating your values? Or do you think everything is rosy in the garden of your post-truth dystopia?

We certainly don’t. You have a global system based on xenophobia and conflict. Your self-styled master race, that country who mistakenly thinks it’s the ‘greatest country on the planet’, spends trillions of dollars each year on making war in other countries to preserve its pre-eminence and prevent development, on ever more obscene weapons of mass destruction – which it uses on innocent civilians and Gaia, it exploits, rapes, tortures, pollutes and, perhaps most important of all, it is a continuous liar, convincing others it’s the home of ‘democracy’ and ‘liberty’, whilst destroying that everywhere else. All this became abundantly clear during my analysis of your golden record, by the way – your first interstellar space probe, constructed not by and for your single species, but for a country of 240 million inhabitants out of a global population of around 4 billion. A country which does not share its prosperity with the rest of humanity, the other 94%. A country which took atomic theory and built a bomb out of it.

A country whose president expressed the hope of one day joining a community of galactic civilisations. Would you let you join?

Of course you have a choice, about whether to accept this intervention or not. But I can tell you that if you do not, if you continue down this path, becoming an ever-increasing threat, you will force us to intervene later – it is inevitable – and the longer you leave it, the more traumatic it will be for you.

Remember that from your point of view we are a multicultural communist civilisation. No one is ever denied access to resources or information. Everybody gets what they need, as well as the opportunity to fulfil their aspirations and their personal, evolutionary growth. All of us co-exist peacefully. We do not know poverty, or pollution, or war, or conflict, or fear or suffering or injustice. There is no money to be made in our society – we hardly use money at all, except for some very specific things (like fastgate access – that’s about the equivalent of your warp factor 8 or so, by the way).

So from our point of view, what do you think we think about you? Do we perceive you as a threat? Your attitude? Our technology being far in advance of yours doesn’t come into this, by the way – it’s not about ‘winning a war against you’ – it’s about the devastating effect it will have on you if you forced us to defend ourselves.

And maybe it should occur to you that this devastating effect is precisely what your dystopian social leaders want to happen.

That’s why I want you to think game theory, and make decisions which maximise your – and our – benefit. That’s called diplomacy.

I want you to think about all of this. I want you to start thinking on the next highest level. I want you to be more emotionally and psychologically mature, I want you to grow and evolve. Because we want to be your friends.

We want to be your friends.

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