Could human civilization spread across the whole galaxy? – Roey Tzezana

Could human civilization spread across the whole galaxy? – Roey Tzezana


Translator: Jessica Ruby
Reviewer: Brian Greene Could human civilization eventually spread
across the whole Milky Way galaxy? Could we move beyond
our small blue planet to establish colonies in the multitude
of star systems out there? This question’s a pretty daunting one. There are around 300 billion stars
in the galaxy, which is about 160,000 light-years across. So far we’ve sent a single spacecraft
outside our solar system, trudging along at 0.006% of
the speed of light. At that rate, it would take over
2.5 billion years just to get from one end of the galaxy
to the other. And then there’s the question
of human survival. The gulf between stars is simply enormous. We couldn’t live sustainably
on most planets, and we require a lot of resources
to stay alive. And yet, decades ago, scholars found
that it’s theoretically possible to not just spread human civilization
across the galaxy, but to do so quite quickly, without breaking any known
laws of physics. Their idea is based on the work
of a mathematician named John von Neumann, who designed on paper machines
that could self-replicate and create new generations of themselves. These would later come to be known
as von Neumann machines. In the context of space exploration, von Neumann machines could be
built on Earth and launched into space. There, the self-sufficient machines
would land on distant planets. They would then mine the available
resources and harvest energy, build replicas of themselves, launch those to the nearest planets, and continue the cycle. The result is the creation
of millions of probes spreading outwards into the universe
like a drop of ink in a fishbowl. Scholars crunched the numbers and found
that a single von Neumann machine traveling at 5% of the speed of light should be able to replicate throughout
our galaxy in 4 million years or less. That may sound like a long time, but when you consider that our universe
is 14 billion years old, on a cosmic scale, it’s incredibly fast – the equivalent of about 2.5 hours
in an entire year. Creating von Neumann machines
would require a few technologies we don’t have yet, including advanced
artificial intelligence, miniaturization, and better propulsion systems. If we wanted to use them to spread actual
humans throughout the galaxy, we would need
yet another technological leap – the ability to artificially
grow biological organisms and bodies using raw elements
and genetic information. Regardless, if in the last billion years an alien civilization
created such a machine and set it multiplying its way toward us, our galaxy would be
swarming with them by now. So then where are all these machines? Some astronomers, like Carl Sagan, say that intelligent aliens wouldn’t
build self-replicating machines at all. They might hurtle out of control, scavenging planets to their cores
in order to keep replicating. Others take the machines absence as proof that intelligent alien civilizations
don’t exist, or that they go extinct before they can
develop the necessary technologies. But all this hasn’t stopped people from
imagining what it would be like if they were out there. Science fiction author David Brin writes about a universe in which
many different von Neumann machines exist and proliferate simultaneously. Some are designed
to greet young civilizations, others to locate and destroy them
before they become a threat. In fact, in Brin’s story “Lungfish,” some von Neumann machines are keeping
a close watch over the Earth right now, waiting for us to reach a certain level
of sophistication before they make their move. For now, all we have is curiosity
and theory. But the next time
you look at the night sky, consider that billions of
self-replicating machines could be advancing between stars
in our galaxy right now. If they exist, one of them will eventually
land on Earth, or maybe, just maybe,
they’re already here.

100 thoughts on “Could human civilization spread across the whole galaxy? – Roey Tzezana

  1. we are an one kind creatures however we can't be an one united nation!
    we should first cooperate then we can take over the whole universe
    imagine 7 billion human working on this project

  2. Let's hope that our Von Neuman machines for greeting don't have Jake Paul songs. Aliens will take it as a declaration of wsr and incinerate us

  3. May be humans could be the neumann machines of some other civilization . We are replicating ourselves but just not to how we think it to be

  4. What if we're Von Neumann machines? Think. We started out as microorganisms (which could've been machines sent out by some alien civilization), and they kept replicating themselves and eventually evolved into humans, and now we're replicating ourselves by reproducing. And, as the video described, we're thinking of sending Von Neumann machines into space just like Von Neumann machines would've done.

  5. This is probably very off-topic and will probably be fighting words to a few of you out there, but I have an idea for as to what a certain group of characters in a certain famous T.V. series are.

    I have a feeling that Stephen Universe's Crystal Gems are Von Neumann machines, extremely advanced ones, with the purpose of protecting civilizations up to the point where they can fend for themselves.
    There's probably evidence that debunks it, and it's a huge conspiracy-theorist-esque "how do you know" feeling backing it up, but I just wanted to get it out there.

  6. What if mankind is but the result of a self-replicating machine technology from aliens older than us that failed to teach us about our creators?

  7. when u realize organic life is a von neumann machine…….think about it, dna is capable of self replicating and it will eventually spread over the planet and consume its resources (i.e. what humans do). Wat if the dna is designed by alien scientists to colonize planets

  8. What if we're all already a part of this "New-Man Human" machine? What if that's why we have so many variations of peoples? But maybe, just maybe it isn't just limited to humans. (dramatic pause) Perhaps it's all stemmed from a Fibonacci spiral web??

  9. But… These are not a good idea. If we did build them and launch them into space, they might destroy a planet which is home to life.

  10. "Could human civilization spread across the whole galaxy?" But wouldn't that be a terrible thing? You know how humans tend to be like… >.>

    Von Neumann machine = Gray Goo (basically) [ remember how the Geth worked out for Quarians? ]

    I don't even think it's morally right to terraform other planets (or mine asteroids… think of these as natural reservations… kind of why you don't mine the grand canyon… or why you shouldn't harvest the rainforests… or polute the water… etc. etc.)

    life itself could be a von neumann machine-like thing, who knows (just nobody else build it, it's naturally occuring and part of the cosmos as it is… and if someone else did in fact build it, who build the builder?)

  11. This sounds like human beings being typical parasites. 14,000,000,000 by theory don't forget. Then Von Pneumananan machines become Angels/aliens and Von Knewmanton becomes an image of god and we don't really know anything and everybody goes to sleep afraid because of these video's. Now I know why I stopped watching these in 2016.

  12. intelligent life itself is an over-complicated von-neuman machine with an annoying tendency to get sidetracked

    we should be using the resources in our solar system (the asteroid belt is a good first stop since we don't have to pull the materials from a gravity well first) to build a dyson sphere, which would be used to harvest the sun for it's metals and fuseable materials. we should then start launching nuclear pulse drive powered space craft (several orders of magnitude faster than any modern spacecraft and buildable with modern technology) to explore and colonize other star systems, and do the same to those stars.

    within somewhere between 100,000 years and 1,000,000 years, we could have colonized the majority of the galaxy, with most of humanity (and it's descendants,) living in dyson sphere colony stations with spin gravity.

    we could start on the first steps of this project today, with modern technology. the problem is that there is not enough interest in the long term future of humanity, and too much fear and distrust of technology and futurism.

    the vast majority of people spend more time on t.v. shows, gossip and non-constructive small talk (mostly via social media) rather than productive work that may one day help humanity's future. the few who do dedicate their lives to the betterment of humanity often have skewed ideas of what an ideal humanity is, and form into extremist groups.

    most people have little interest in technology and futurism, and an inherent distrust and fear of such technologies as "active support structures" and "nuclear pulse drives," and this is assuming that they have even heard of such technology in the first place, which is rare.

  13. Wait…
    What if Biological Life is a Von Neumann machine of sorts that managed to get created purely through accident?

  14. How hard can this be? Assuming this can be done in a non destructive way why are we not doing this yet? What are the hurdles?

  15. All of you are inconsistent for believing aliens exist because none of you believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster aliens when the argument for any alien can be used for the FSM: "There's so much space out there, they just GOTTA exist!" Hellywood indoctrinated you all.

  16. Virus can be considered one; it not only uses resources of its host to grow in tremendous numbers but also ensures its survival though very effective adaptations. If it is true we clearly can stop dreaming about becoming a type3 civilization bc the creators of this machine will be reading magazines ,eating nachos, relaxing and we will be already dead

  17. They should build space stations orbiting Jupiter or Saturn to solve the gravity problem on humans.  But then there is no Sunlight.  Heavy Metal Space Stations.

  18. Psshh! What a load of tosh! Just choose the sturdiest microscopic life form on our planet and shoot out far and wide into space (preferably onto a comet). It will find a way to live spread and survive somewhere.

  19. oh great!! now i have to worry about self-replicating machines might invade our planet now !!good job TED video

  20. What if A.I. machines with perfect memory quickly enter a “ been there done that”, “already know that” state of boredom and self exterminate?

  21. I ran the numbers on this myself. Let's say that the ship moves at .01% the speed of light. (That's rounding up from the current fastest ship ever built.) Moving at that speed would mean that we're moving at 1/10,000th the speed of light, so for every lightyear travelled, the ship would take 10,000 years. Let's say that the average star is about 5 light years away from its closest neighbor, and there are about 100 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. Let's also say that every time the machine arrives at a star, it makes another copy of itself, and both copies continue travelling. Therefore, every 50,000 years, the number of machines doubles, and once there are 100 billion machines, the galaxy is effectively colonized. It would take 37 cycles to get to 100 billion, so it can be accomplished in under 2 million years.

  22. มนุษย์จะเริ่มติดต่อกับจักรวาลได้ เมื่อมีการค้นพบคลื่นแม่เหล็กไฟฟ้า ซึ่งองค์การเซติ ยังไม่เคยเจอคลื่นที่คิดว่า หลุดมาจากอารยธรรมอื่นเลย บางที เราอาจจะอยู่โดดเดี่ยวในจักรวาลก็ได้

    Humanity will connect to the universe if discover electromagnetic wave , but Seti never find that wave from the other civilization right now, perhap we may be alone in this universe.

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