Anders dives into the far future, investigating how game theory might apply to galactic and universe scale civilizations.  Conquest, diplomacy, and economic forces will be subject to constraints of light speed travel and emergent properties of space expansion.  As our short term existential problems get solved, we may want to reflect on the future and figure out what long term goals we want and how to achieve them.


Presentation: Game theory with aliens on the largest scales

  • Due to relativity and the light speed barrier, we are stuck in a spatial boundary cone that extends outward at the speed of light.  This represents all the physical space we could conceivably interact with during our existence.
  • In order to take over the universe, one would only need to seed information into each galaxy.  That is, we would only need to travel there with a probe or small craft and create self replicating robots that then occupy the target galaxy.

  • The number of galaxies that can be conquered by any given starting location is a factor of the ability to travel at near light speeds.

  • At a large enough scale, space is relatively homogeneous.

  • The geometry of spatial encounters between alien species is a function of an expanding sphere based on their light-speed travel capability.

  • Depending on how common intelligence is in the universe, the borders between different civilizations will be radically altered.

  • What would stop war in space:
    • Flat borders and nearly equal technology
    • Defender advantage
    • Scorched earth strategies
    • Mutually assured destruction does not work at large enough scales
  • Bargaining for raw resources is an unlikely scenario as the distances for shipping would invalidate the wealth generated.  It would likely involve information or services instead.

  • Deals and economic activity will follow similar patterns of geometry as civilization expansion, but would operate at the speed of light and not be subject to political boundaries.  Deals across vast distances where simultaneous action is not feasible create special obstacles.

  • We should consider the existential risks involved in galactic expansion.

  • Once we reach existential risk maturity, we may want to spend a long time reflecting on what we want and how we want to obtain it.

  • We need to think ahead.


Seminar summary by Aaron King.