Saturday, December 27, 2008

Why We’ll Never Get Visits from Extraterrestrial Intelligence

I’ve never seen either version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, nor have I watched Independence Day. But visits from either friendly or hostile extraterrestrials are a staple of science fiction. My analysis indicates that they will remain fiction.

It’s not that I don’t believe there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. It’s my observations of “intelligent” life here on Earth that have led me to this conclusion.

Self-conscious intelligence is an evolutionary dead end. Using our only available example, we can see that humans’ ability to adapt our environment has made it possible to outstrip our resources and damage our habitat to the extent that our existence is in danger. Within a century, we will see our focus shift to basic survival; if we are able to function at a higher level than our current behaviour indicates, we will be trying to survive within our current societal structures as nations. If our current group behaviour persists, we will be struggling to survive as tribes, families or individuals; higher organizational levels will have collapsed.

Since the kinds of technologies necessary for interstellar travel (assuming it is actually possible) require a highly organized society with plenty of excess production of basic needs, and the leisure for intellectual pursuits, we won’t be continuing down that road.

It is my conclusion that any species developing intelligence similar to humans, intelligence conscious of itself, able to develop technologies to exploit its environment for its own (short-term) gain, will overrun its ability to manage the impact of its total group behaviour, and bring on its own collapse. I hope that, somewhere, some intelligent life form develops socially quickly enough to restrict itself to a sustainable set of behaviours. Such a life form will never choose to dedicate resources to interstellar travel.

So neither the self-destructive nor self-sustaining extraterrestrials will ever come knocking on our planetary door.

I wouldn’t rule out interstellar communication of some sort, however. So our planetary phone might yet ring. I hope someone is still here to listen for the call.


Joseph Capp said...

There you go showing your "human centric thinking" "If humans can't do no other species can. Do you ever think that on other planets entities evolved and just made better decisions than us.
There something to be said about the human centric thinking by both scientist and religions which preach, in essence, we are the only ones. Another idea some scientist always throw out there is; they can't get here from there.
Two physicists just published a paper that said we can by traveling way faster then speed of light, and by not breaking the laws of Relativity.
They also figured out a way to use a faction of the energy, which at first was enormous, to do it.
Is it the answer maybe not but we are finding ways to think differently about traveling in space-time and we haven't been doing this for long.
So it may be some visitor is here and unlike us maybe they don't want to introduce themselves like gangbusters, maybe they are a little smarter than that.
Joe Capp
UFO Media Matters
Non-Commercial Blog

Curmudgeon-at-Large said...

Here's an example of another problem evolution has brought us: making up explanations to make us feel we have some control over the universe. All religions, including evidence-free belief in UFOs, have evolved so that we don't have to face the stark reality of the meaninglessness of life and inevitability of death.

Of course, to support our beliefs, while still maintaining our self-image as rational beings, we see miracles or extraterrestrials where none exist.

My point is that, no matter what physical form a species with self-conscious intelligence may have, that species will either destroy it's habitat before developing interstellar travel, or evolve a sustainable lifestyle that cannot support the development of interstellar travel.