Most of what I write on my website is about future speculation. From time to time I come across articles that confirm or at least line up with what I have written, so in some small sense it at least makes me think that I am not, that, crazy in some of my thoughts and beliefs.
Recently I came across an article that talks about our search for aliens and that we may be looking for the wrong thing. As you know in most bad movies the little green men from Mars come to Earth for whatever reason and run amok, well what if flesh and blood aliens are not out there or at least not what we are most likely to find? What then, what kind of life form should we really be looking for, more importantly what are we most likely to find in our search?
For me the answer is quite simple, but we will get to that in a second. I have been a proponent that it would take an extreme amount of technology to take a flesh and blood organic body through deep space to another star or possibly galaxy. There are two ways to do this, but both are well beyond our current technological scope. We could genetically modify human astronauts so that they would be perfectly adapted to live and survive a long space flight. The other way would be to come up with special technology to protect humans from dangerous space flights. This would include some sort of gravity machine, something to keep an atmosphere on the ship, perhaps a cryogenic chamber as well. While all of that technology fits perfectly into a scifi novel, in reality we are decades, perhaps longer from figuring those things out, if they are possible at all. So it seems that genetically modifying humans for deep space travel will be the easier and simpler way to go. I have read that we are somewhat on the verge of being able to achieve this, but that aspect opens the door for a whole other host of ethical questions that I don’t want to get in here.
For those reasons mentioned above I also think that an alien flesh and blood civilization may have a similarly difficult time achieving interstellar travel. There is always the caveat, and we assume that they would be thousands maybe even millions of years more technologically advanced than us, but we will get to that in a second. First let’s take a look at a few things that could happen or that are most likely to happen.
Let’s say that there is a civilization out there that is similar to us but maybe a thousand years more advanced than us. So at some point they probably had similar technology to us on some level. Now, given our technology I have read that perhaps sometime in the next 50 to 100 years we will have created true AI. That is just speculation but I think even the harshest skeptics would agree that within that time frame it will probably happen. So this other alien civilization already has AI and is certainly advancing more rapidly because of AI and let’s also say that Moore’s Law is universal across civilizations.
This is where things can go a multitude of ways because of the invention of AI. We could say that once AI is created it will solve all the civilizations problems, or there is the other side, it will destroy the civilization for a variety of reasons. As always the truth lies somewhere in the middle, so let’s say that AI helps this civilization but can only do so much based on resources and energy. Personally I do not think that a flesh and blood civilization could live forever as, based on personal experience, we require too much in terms of resources, food, water, air, energy, what have you for survival. For that reason I think that at some point in the future this civilization that created AI will eventually become extinct. It could be that they destroy themselves, they run out of resources, they make their planet uninhabitable, or a war breaks out between the AI and the civilization. The point I am making here is that even with the advent of AI the civilization will not be immortal.
Regardless of what happens I think that, us, along with almost all other organic civilizations will eventually become extinct or on some level merge with the AI. So here is my theory: I think there is a 97% that all intelligent life will become extinct regardless of the advent of AI, and that possibly 2% will merge with said AI, and through some miracle 1% of all intelligent life will become a super civilization (Type III) in accordance with Kardashev Scale. I call this theory “The Way of the Universe,” which basically states that any technologically intelligent civilization will gradually, either purposefully or accidentally, move toward an inorganic civilization through the creation of AI or some form of intelligent computer or robotics. As humans we are on the verge of trying to accomplish this at this very moment, or at least trying to see if it is possible, and I would imagine that this is probably what other similar intelligent civilizations are on the verge of as well.
I believe this is the drive of all technologically intelligent civilizations. So if that is the case almost all civilizations that have technology will invent AI or something similar, then it is also the case that 97% of those civilizations will become extinct. So when factoring in all that, what are you left with, a ton of alien artificial intelligences out in the universe. The reason all of this is interesting is that it could possibly be an answer to the Fermi Paradox. Perhaps if my theory is correct all bets are off as we really have no idea what an alien AI would do in terms of contact or seeking out other civilizations.
This is the real question, we can to some extent assume that a flesh and blood being may or could have similar motivations for exploration and making contact as we do, but for an artificial intelligence we have no idea what its motivations or behavior would be. This certainly makes it scary in terms of contact as Stephen Hawking has been saying for years, and he has echoed his ideas in a more recent statement. While I certainly think that making contact with an alien civilization either artificial or otherwise would be scary, I am still of the mindset that we would have nothing to fear and here is why.
If it was an alien AI then I think it would simply stay away from us as it would have its own drives and would not want to be bothered with us as there would be nothing it could gain from us. But if there was some reason it would make contact with us I seriously doubt it would come here to destroy us, what would be the logic in that? You have to assume that this AI would be extremely intelligent, thousands, even millions of times smarter than us so I doubt that its first directive would be to wage war and destruction. That simply does not make sense, as war cost energy and resources, and these would be the things that AI would value.
On the other hand I would be a little more weary of a flesh and book alien but not much. My idea has more to do with psychology and evolution than anything else. I have read and written a post about how civilizations evolve including how violent they are. Violence and aggression both have certainly helped us evolve and survive to this point in our evolution. However, I think there is a point to where this trait would produce diminishing returns. Look at ISIS, they are extremely violent and are basically setting back our modern civilization. Now imagine if that type of organization had some real power and potentially ruled half of the world. Eventually the human race would be destroyed or set so far back that any sort of real technological advancement would be near impossible. My point is that any hyper violent or aggressive intelligent civilization will more than likely destroy themselves because of war.
Think about it if ISIS ruled the world, SCARY I KNOW!, we would not be exploring space, that would be a sin I am sure of some sort, we would not be exploring new medicine and trying to cure diseases, as again that would be a sin or a crime against the state, and I certainly doubt we would be looking at alternate fuels and energy sources. You see the small point I am trying to make, now carry that same argument to an alien civilization. I think this same logic would apply. I also want to say that there may be some violent and aggressive intelligent civilizations out there that achieve interstellar space exploration, but I think they are the exception rather than the norm.
For a civilization to reach super intelligence or Type III on the Kardashev Scale I would imagine would take extreme cooperation from the civilization as a whole. I also think this could be achieved through slave labor, but as we have seen here on Earth you also risk an uprising or rebellion with this scenario. That could set back production or any project years or decades depending on the political upheaval. So again the most likely scenario and most efficient way to achieve technological superiority is through cohesion and a unified people. If that is the case, then it is more than likely that the flesh and blood aliens we meet would be friendly, or at the very least not extremely violent as they would have figured out how to come together to achieve their common goals such as interstellar space travel.
To me I think it is extremely unlikely or an infinitely small chance that the alien civilization we meet will be violent and want to destroy us. I am not saying that it will not happen, just that the odds of that happening are very small, but still a non zero number. So for the time being I don’t think we should be scared as Hawking thinks, but he is infinitely smarter than me, so who knows.