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Hi - this is my first post on the EA forum!

Be warned that this topic is extremely speculative. If I were to write this into a full length post then I'd dig up with some actual numbers.

Dysonian SETI and X-Risk

Dysonian SETI ("artifact SETI") is a general strategy for SETI that start with the principle that it may be much more likely to find the remnants of an advanced civilization than it would be to encounter an active civilization. If this principle is true then this may seem like bad news for anybody that cares about X-Risk, but instead we should consider it an opportunity to learn from those who came before us.


Premise 1:  Data regarding what X-Risks pose the biggest threat and how to deal with them is extremely valuable. [80% certainty]

Premise 2: Discovering remnants of civilizations would (almost instantaneously) provide centuries/millennia worth of insight into X-Risks. [80% certainty]

Premise 3: Not discovering remnants of civilizations would at least provide some insight into what "great filters" we have already passed as a civilization. (This is a topic for a different post regarding what we ought to do if we find that humanity is doomed in the near future.) [70% certainty]

Premise 4: Restricting our efforts to Dysonian SETI - rather than Active SETI ("communication SETI") - eliminates the hypothetical dark-forest risk by ensuring that we only ever observe. [90% certainty]

Premise 5: SETI as a cause area is virtually non-existent and thus likely to benefit immensely from marginal funding. [90% certainty]


Conclusion/Hypothesis: Promoting Dysonian SETI could be a very valuable cause area. 

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Thanks for this post! I hadn't heard of Dysonian SETI before.

I'm wondering what your thoughts are on how one would promote Dysonian SETI? On the margin is this just scaling back existing 'active' SETI? Beyond attempts at xenoarchaeology in our solar system (which I think are practically certain to not turn up anything) I'm wondering else is in this space

A side note: this idea reminds me of the plot of the Mass Effect games!