23 August, 2016

Possible solution to Fermi's paradox - Where is everybody?

Below I make a few predictions, derived from the assumption that human Intelligence is not the final word in evolution. Most people agree with this assumption yet keep on imagining our future without taking it into account. Well, I do. And over the years I came to some startling conclusions.
For example:
 - Startrek movie like space ships will remain just that - a movie.
 - Humans visiting in person other solar system will never happen. (Never mind colonizing the entire galaxy.)

1. Life arises all over the Universe whenever a handful of basic conditions are met.
The universe as we known it is teeming with life (as we know it).
3. After life arises, Intelligent life is a given and not a special case. 
4. Evolution by natural selection is UNIVERSAL ! 
5. Civilizations arise naturally when individual Intelligence has passed a certain threshold. 
6. Because of the astronomical distances involved (time and space) and the exponential increase in development, almost all civilizations will proceed to some ‘next level’ before they are able to notice one another. From their point of view, when a civilization is at about our level of development, the universe seems to be there "just for them".

How did I arrive to these conclusions? Before I start, I want to mention one peculiar observation I made:
Most people (some really clever ones too) try to solve this (future) problem (let's say 22 century) with past thinking methods (20th century or 19th or 16th for that matter).

Now let's check some sobering facts:
Even if the nearest star system harbors a civilization technologically similarly advanced to ours, there is no way of knowing about it. By human standards, even among the closest neighbours, the distances involved are truly enormous!

1.    On the one hand, the best radio receivers are just about able to receive a radio signal from a distance of 1 light-year. The nearest star system is more than 4x further away! Yes, we are transmitting electro-magnetic waves in all directions and for over 100-years but most of this waves are beamed by the atmosphere back to Earth. The ones which make it thru are so feeble and scattered, they barely reach the moon. We got used to seeing pictures from Mars and even as far away as Pluto but unless you are into data transmission over huge distances, you have absolutely NO CLUE what it takes to make it work. See it as a miracle and leave it there.

2.    On the other hand, lays the ever increasing speed at which civilization advances. Because scientific development is building on itself (future advancement is laid on previous foundations), the entire technological evolution, is exponential. At our level of development this is insignificant and most people (some really clever one too), fail to realize the future impact such a development process will have. But in another 50 to 100 years the situation will be different. Vastly different. Exponential functions are extremely difficult to see or even notice, unless you have a glimpse of the inflection point! Now this sets an upper time limit to any civilization trying to contact another by electro-magnetic waves. (The lower limit is set by the discovery of the radio waves themselves).

What I am saying is, in reality there is a very short "window of opportunity" when two civilizations can "see" each other. Actually, in practice it might turn out that the window is non-existent! In other words, the inflection point of the evolutionary exponential curve happens before the technology is sufficiently advanced to make communication possible. And this scenario is the one I put my money on. Therefore, I think that the universe is teaming with (intelligent) life as we know it, yet from our point of view, we and all the other civilizations out there, are absolutely alone - for all eternity.

Herewith I, Mario Butoi predict that us humans will find in the coming decades indisputable signs of life all over the galaxy yet the chance of finding life at our Intelligence level (or higher) is extremely low – never mind communicating and interacting with it. And exactly the same applies the other way around.

In conclusion - Here is the extract originally submitted as a letter to Scientific American, June 17, 2000 in response to Where Are They?
July 2000

Proposition: - The transcedental solution to the Fermi Paradox -
"The simplistic response to Fermi's paradox is that industrial civilizations inevitably self-destruct. Ian Crawford points out that it is improbable that all civilizations would do this, and that even one persistent industrial civilization should provide us with evidence of its existence. There is, however an answer to this paradox other than inevitable industrial self-destruction. It is a more plausible solution, but not necessarily a more pleasant one.
It may be that once the drive to intelligence begins, it develops an irresistible dynamic[1]. Consider the time intervals required to produce multicellular organisms (quite long), then basic processing (insects), social processing (reptiles), social communication (mammals), spoken language (human primates), writing/reading[2], and then computing. At each step in this processing curve the time intervals to the next inflection shrink.
There is no reason to assume that the curve stops with us. There may be only a few hundred years between industrial civilization and silicon/nanonic processing. Beyond that speculation is impossible; non-organic minds would operate on qualitatively different timescales from ours. Vinge, Joy, Kurzweil and others describe this as the Singularity (see Links).
It may be that the kinds of civilizations we might communicate with typically exist only for a few hundred years. During their short existence they produce only the kinds of radio output that we produce. In other words, they are very short-lived and the radio output is in the "dark" area of the SETI exploration space. With intense study we may detect one or two of our fellow organic civilizations in the short time that we have left -- perhaps within the next 50 to 100 years.
We may even be able to see their radio emissions go silent; replaced by the uninterpretable communications of silicon minds. Shortly before our emissions do the same thing."