In his famous lecture, Life in the Universe, Stephen Hawking asks: "What are the chances that we will encounter some alien form of life, as we explore the galaxy?"
Life on Earth went from single cells to a complex non-cellular form (Paramecium, Amoebas) and ultimately a multicellular organism, which would be a necessary first step for intelligence to evolve, but it took two and a half billion years to do so. That's about one third of the expected life time of the Sun. That forms the basis of the hypothesis that the evolution of intelligence is highly unlikely or, at best, extremely rare in the galaxy.
While life itself may be common in the galaxy the probability that it will be intelligent is exceedingly low.
There is also the possibility that intelligent life evolves with reasonable frequency but ever increasing technology and population causes their systems to become unstable and the population destroys itself before it can colonize other planets. Hawking believes Intelligence may, In comparison to lower life forms, not have any long-term survival value. Like us they may not have internalized the concept of carrying capacity and exponential growth and, even in light of empirical scientific evidence, haven't formed an emotional reaction.
Hawking posits another possibility: intelligent and advanced civilizations exist but have not, as yet, found us. Should we detect a signal from an alien civilization, he cautions, we should not return the call.
Hawking warns,"we should have to be wary of answering back, until we have evolved" a bit further. Meeting a more advanced civilization, at our present stage,'
"It might be a bit like the original inhabitants of America meeting Columbus. I don't think they were better off for it."
Oh dear! If intelligent beings who have evolved into life forms such as ourselves, not recognizing the value of life and community and differences, and think in terms of power and domination, we are surely doomed. If they have evolved to a higher plane of existence, to a place of wonder and exploration to learn and understand, will they be destroyed by our powerful weapons and people willing and able to use them before we know the intent of these unfamiliar creatures? Would approaching aliens think and act as Columbus and his culture of exploitation and domination or as seekers of knowledge and respecters of diversity?
It doesn't make sense that an intelligent race would traverse light years of distance to destroy another intelligent species. Unless, of course, they are so far advanced that the see us as no more than dumb primates wallowing in our filth and fouling our environment – and highly hostile and dangerous to boot
I think they will perceive us as dumb and foolishly squandering our gift of life forces and will snuff us out so they can have the wonders of cool, fresh water, beautiful skies, balance of natural forces, diversity of living forms and caring for this full-of-wonder gift. If we continue as we are, if a higher-plane-of-existence aliens don't knock us off the planet, we will create the forces that destroy our free gifts.
"If intelligent beings who have evolved into life forms such as ourselves, not recognizing the value of life and community and differences, and think in terms of power and domination, we are surely doomed."
I don't want to be snarky here, but have you ever met any:
- ANY hi-level Corporate Executive?
- Actually just any ordinary Corporate Executive?
- Fascist rich fucks?
- Any military person above the rank of Bird Colonel?
These beings have absolutely, positively no regard for "the value of life and community and differences", and they only "think in terms of power and domination".
As we like to say about the executives in our business, they have three things and three things ONLY on their small minds: Lunch. Golf. Prostitutes.
So, I'm not that worried about "aliens" b/c we're already sharing space with alien-like, inhuman creatures and, somehow, we've learned how to survive with them.
"Survive"? Is that all there is to life? I want to thrive! If I am to thrive, my family needs to thrive, and my community, and my nation, and my Earth. If I/we thrive, who benefits? Who loses? If I survive, who benefits? who loses?
And yes, I have met a few of those you list; furthermore, I was married to a Republican, "Evangelikals," Fascist, and a military person above the rank of Bird Colonel. I can't believe I was so foolish! Stupid! Crazy!
You are absolutely correct: "These beings have absolutely, positively no regard for "the value of life and community and differences", and they only "think in terms of power and domination"." I guess that explains some of my animosity.
It is fun to imagine meeting aliens, but the distances in space are so vast, such an encounter would be very unlikely. So I would say that even if complex sentient life is common in the universe, the distances are a huge barrier to a meet up with intelligent beings.
I recommend the book "Rare Earth" which hypothesizes that simple life, such as bacteria, is common in the universe and that complex life is probably very rare in comparison.
Hawking looks about him and says we are intelligent?
What an idea for imagination:
The far advanced aliens come and colonize the earth. We are to them as apes are to us. They hunt and breed humans as food. They use humans for biological tests. They drill humans as slaves. They drill humans as entertainments in the circus and the zoo.
In a 1960s Twilight Zone episode, aliens carried humans back to their home planets for food.
A PBS channel here in the SF Bay Area is running the series again.
Scientists have so far found countless stars but far fewer planets. Scientists working the theory of planet formation predicted the existance of protoplanetary discs but they were found only as recently as in 1994. Some scientists suggest that about 10 million years are required for a planetary system to form completely from a proto-planetary disk. The four gas giants in our solar system lying far away from the Sun are having much lower temperatures and have no firm surface. Both these factors substantially reduce the possibility of the existance of habitable planets.
Scientists also say that the laws of the nature are the same all over the universe, which means traveling faster than light, as we know presently, must be true for them also. It is diffucult to imagine a race of intelligent beings that can achieve this speed of travel and interspace travel will need much faster speeds of travel. Scientists are said to have obsreved the universe in the space of 48 billion light years in radius from the earth and have found no inhabitable planet so far. So the fear of superintelligent beings so far has no basis.
48 billion light years in radius from the earth and have found no inhabitable planet so far. So the fear of superintelligent beings so far has no basis.
48 billion years would be 34.5 billion years before the Big Bang - we're not likely seeing anything.
The fact that we have discovered fewer planets than stars is not connected to the numbers. It is a matter of ability to perceive. The stars are easy to find. They are so easy to find that we can see some of them with the naked eye. However, planets are much more difficult to find.
We cannot find them directly. The process for finding planets requires time and technology. You have to watch a star for a prolonged period of time to notice wobble or dimming to discover a planet there. The furthest planet we have found is OGLE-TR-56b which is located around a star 1500 parsecs (5790 light years away). The current number of planets we have discovered is 708 and we are discovering more every day. The odds are that each of these planets are part of solar systems with smaller planets we can't see. I know that many of them are multi-planet systems. We have over 700 exoplanets in what, cosmically speaking, is our back yard. Those are just the big ones which we can see.
We learned in the last two weeks of a planet Kepler 22B which has every indication of being habitable. It is in the right place, it is the right size and its mass/size ratio gives indications it is probably just like the earth. It is only 600 light years away.
In other words, I wouldn't be too sure of the idea the idea that there aren't any intelligent species out there.