Anthropics and a cosmic immune system
Some people like to assume that the cosmos is ours for the taking, even though this could make us special to the order of 1 in 1080. The argument is that the cosmos could be transformed by technology—engineered on astronomical scales—but hasn’t been thus transformed.
The most common alternative hypothesis is that “we are in a simulation”. Perhaps we are. But there are other possibilities too.
One is that technological life usually destroys, not just its homeworld, but its whole bubble of space-time, by using high-energy physics to cause a “vacuum decay”, in which physics changes in a way that makes space uninhabitable. For example, the mass of an elementary particle is essentially equal to the energy density of the Higgs field, times a quantity called a “yukawa coupling”. If the Higgs field increased its energy density by orders of magnitude, but the yukawas stayed the same, matter as we know it would be destroyed, everywhere that the change spread.
Here I want to highlight a different possibility. The idea is that the universe contains very large lifeforms and very small lifeforms. We are among the small. The large ones are, let’s say, mostly dark matter, galactic in scale, and stars and planets for them are like biomolecules for us; tiny functional elements which go together to make up the whole. And—the crucial part—they have immune systems which automatically crush anything which interferes with the natural celestial order.
This is why the skies are full of untamed stars rather than Dyson spheres—any small life which begins to act on that scale is destroyed by dark-matter antibodies. And it explains anthropically why you’re human-size rather than galactic-size: small life is more numerous than large life, just not so numerous as cosmic colonization would imply.
Two questions arise—how did large life evolve, and, shouldn’t anthropics favor universes which have no large life, just space-colonizing small life? I could spin a story about cosmological natural selection, and large life which uses small life to reproduce, but it doesn’t really answer the second question, in particular. Still, I feel that this is a huge unexplored topic—the anthropic consequences of “biocosmic” ecology and evolution—and who knows what else is lurking here, waiting to be discovered?