UAP and Global Catastrophic Risks

by avturchin1 min read28th Apr 202012 comments

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DoD has confirmed yesterday the authenticity of UAP videos and Yudkowsky made a bet: “So apparently there’s some kind of thing right now about supposed aliens. I haven’t looked into it at all, but I am happy to blindly bet against anything to do with visible intelligent aliens at 100:1 odds.”

So where are the other 99 odds – and how they affect our future and the probability of global risks? I created the biggest possible list of explanations of UAP and estimations of their effects on x-risks. There are several more extreme explanations than “aliens”, which challenge our model of the world: travellers between branches of Everettian multiverse, glitches in the Matrix, absurdity in Boltzmann Brains chains, etc.

Abstract: After 2017 NY Times publication, the stigma of the scientific discussion of the problem of so-called UAP (Unidentified Ariel Phenomena) was lifted. Now the question arises: how UAP will affect the future of humanity, and especially, the probability of the global catastrophic risks? To answer this question, we assume that the Nimitz case in 2004 was real and we will suggest a classification of the possible explanations of the phenomena. The first level consists of mundane explanations: hardware glitches, malfunction, hoaxes and lies. The second level involves explanations which are not changing completely our model of the world, but only updating it: new military tech, large psyop operation or new physical effect like ball lightning. The third level of explanations requires a complete overhaul of our world model and includes a large set of fantastic hypothesis: alien starships, interdimensional beings, glitches in the matrix, projections from the collective unconsciousness, Boltzmann brain’s experiences etc. The higher is the level of the hypothesis, the less probable it is, but the bigger is its consequences for possible global catastrophic risks. Thus, “integrating” over the field of all possible explanations, we find that UAP increases catastrophic risks. Technological progress increases our chances of direct confrontation with the phenomena. If the phenomenon has intelligence, the change of its behavior could be unexpected after we pass some unknown threshold. But we could lower the risks if we assume some reasonable policy of escaping confrontations. 

The whole article is here: https://philpapers.org/rec/TURUAG

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The third level of explanations requires a complete overhaul of our world model and includes a large set of fantastic hypothesis: alien starships, interdimensional beings, glitches in the matrix, projections from the collective unconsciousness, Boltzmann brain’s experiences etc.

Most of these are just not good explanations. In the sense that even if we were in a glitchy matrix, why would the glitch look like that. The boltzman brain hypothesis fails to assign any more probability to some observations than others, so always predicts random noise. Aliens or interdimensional beings are so powerful that they could do pretty much whatever they like to us. Scenarios where an alien civilization tries to avoid indicating its presence in any way, but some accident strands a few aliens in a malfunctioning spacecraft on earth, or a few rebels decide to show up on camera and then vanish feel contrived.

Even if I knew for certain that interdimensional beings were meddling in the affairs of earthlings, I would still suspect that that particular video had a level 1 explanation.

The probability of anything to do with aliens shouldn't be updated significantly on evidence like this. If you think that alien nuts will periodically drag up the most convincing video they can find, you should probably be adjusting P(aliens) down slightly. On the grounds that there will always be dead flies on camera lenses, but if any good evidence did exist, the alien nuts would share that instead.

The most interesting explanations are those that explain how high capabilities of observed objects could be combined with low intelligence. ( in Nimitz case, fly inside a camera explanation does not work, as the object was observed through three independent channels : visual by eyes, radar on the ship and infrared camera on a plane). There are several ideas how UAP high capabilities could be combined with low intelligence:

  1. they are animals which use unknown type of matter. Like whales.
  2. Alien civilization has crashed but some robots remain.
  3. Alien superintelligence is locked on a stupid goal.
  4. They just don't care. They have intelligence but don’t use it to hide. We don’t hide from ants.
  5. Diluted Boltzmann brains or dust theory - there is only a very small level of randomness, and the world looks almost normal. Maybe longer explanation is needed, and it is in the article.
Thus, “integrating” over the field of all possible explanations, we find that UAP increases catastrophic risks.

When has it been "found" that something decreased/decreases catastrophic risks?

If we in a Space Zoo, the owners of the Zoo will prevent our attempts of self-destruction.

Any thoughts on the videos themselves?

Videos themselves are interesting as they confirm visual and radar observations. If they are taken out of context, they don't provide much information, except one rather random thought: the object has two bulges on the longer sides, and from the distance it could look like two connected sources, which may be explanation of older name "flying sources".

There is a tiny error in the paper. It mentions in one place that multicellular life has existed fro 500 million years on Earth. That is not correct. I suppose you have mistaken the Cambrian Explosion which happened just before 500 million years ago, with the origin of multicellular life.

Yes, it is a mistake, thanks for head up!

I saw that. This mostly describes ordinary incidents not related to Nimitz case.

What is your assessment of the probability that some kind of Third Level Explanation is needed for such events?

Like 20-30 per cent. My loved pet theory is dust theory, as it nicely explains a lot of anomalies which can't be explained even via simulation theory, like premonition or missing time cases.