So here are a few articles that on one hand seem a little depressing, but also leave us with a little hope.
Not so long ago I posted an article about the Kardashev Scale. If you don’t remember this is the scale that is used to classify other intelligent civilizations. It is measured by the amount of energy the civilization consumes. Just on our own planet you can see that as technology and time have progressed we have used more and more energy to satisfy our needs. While we use quite a bit, eventually, potentially we could harness the entire energy output of our planet then our sun. Then if we extrapolate that even further we could eventually branch out to other galaxies and begin to harness the energy of other starts as well.
This is all fine and dandy, and I am sure you are wondering why does this matter. Well again some smart people said well if there are some highly advanced civilizations out there they are more than likely to use a massive amount of energy. So following this logic they could potentially be dimming stars in their region of space as they syphon off massive amounts of energy for their needs. So again if this were the case technically scientist could look at a specific area of space and see that there is a cluster of stars that are dimmer than they should be, which could mean that a highly intelligent civilization is at work. While this is certainly not the only answer but certainly the coolest one I have heard.
But, with all that being said, it seems that despite our searching, looking for dimmed starts as well as listening for radio waves, we have surprisingly found nothing out of the ordinary, which is a major bummer. While at first glance this article could be quite depressing you have to think that this is an inexact science for search for intelligent life. We are taking into account a lot of assumptions that we really know nothing about. Like maybe super intelligent civilizations do not use energy from stars but rather dark energy to fuel their needs. If that were the case we would have no way of detecting that as we have yet to actually detect dark energy. While you would imagine that scientist could maybe see something that was a little strange it seems that they have not, other than the Boötes void, which is a seemingly empty region of space. While an answer to why this region is seemingly void of stars could be because a civilization has used all their fuel and burned them out. While this would be totally cool, I don’t want to jump to that conclusion as the reason for the void.
So the basis of the article is that after searching over 100,000 galaxies we have yet to find any sign of an intelligent civilization based on the logic above. Again I think we have to take all this with a grain of salt, but still kind of sucks. Although, the bright spot is that we are only using, what I can only assume are very primitive means to try and find these civilizations, and only viewing a very very minutely small portion of the vast infinite cosmos. So while on the surface it may be a little depressing, in the grand scheme of things I am not that discouraged in our search for life.
And with that being said there is some hope that we could find life with in our own galaxy. The interesting thing about this article is that scientist think that our best chance of finding life is to look closer to the center of our own galaxy. From the article:
Not only do Gowanlock’s models show that alien civilizations are probably far away, they’re likely to be ancient. The Galaxy formed from the inside out, and as we move toward the star-filled center, the cosmic landscape ages by billions of years.
Which if you think about it, totally makes sense, an older star would technically have older lifeforms living on a planet if possible. Those life forms would have had more time to become intelligent and possibly reach super intelligence. But yet another quote from the article shares much of the same sentiment I have toward alien life, if it is out there.
Perhaps the galactic center is swarming with superintelligent robots who don’t give two cents about using archaic technology to contact a bunch of squishy meatbags.
I have written about this many times before and think it could be a real answer to the Fermi Paradox. Perhaps this is the “way of the universe”. Life arises on planet, life continues to grow and becomes intelligent, eventually life becomes super intelligent, not long after civilization creates AI, then through a variety of circumstances civilization becomes extinct leaving behind the AI in its stead. While I think this is a very plausible and real scenario, I am struggling to figure out how a super intelligent civilization who just created AI goes extinct. No, I do not think the AI will destroy the civilization, but it’s hard to imagine them succumbing to a natural or cosmic disaster with their technology, but I assume it is possible.
Even given my flawed “way of the universe” I still think that if we do happen to meet something it will be a robot of sorts. To me, and I am basing this on our technology, it seems easier to create AI or a near AI than interstellar travel. I am not saying we are on the verge of creating AI, but I would argue that we are much much closer to that than creating a spaceship with the needed technology to travel safely from star to star. So given my way of the universe, maybe a civilization does not need super intelligence to create AI, that could be the one thing that makes my theory work. So a refined way of the universe could be, once the civilization creates AI there is a 50/50 chance it will become extinct before reaching super intelligence in which case all that will be left will be the AI it created.
On the other hand I do not think that all flesh and blood super intelligent civilizations will destroy themselves. So that leaves another sort of paradox. You have to wonder that if they are flesh beings that they could potentially have a yearning to meet other like themselves. While I do not think this would be the case with a robot, I do not think it would care one way or the other about meeting other beings. Perhaps once they have the technology and if it is possible they leave the universe and travel to another universe for whatever reason. The possibilities are quite literally infinite. When dealing with this topic there are always more questions than answers. Maybe one day we will find the answers we are looking for…