Monday, December 19, 2005

Transcendence: Our Responsibility

Given the trillions upon trillions of planets in the universe, it would appear logically unlikely that we are alone as sentient beings. Even if a small portion of the planets in the universe contained life, and a only a small portion of those evolved to intelligent life, the universe should still be teeming with intelligent civilizations. Given the age of the universe, a large portion of these civilizations should be many millions or billions of years ahead of our own. Since technology grows at an exponential rate, a civilization only a few thousand years ahead of us should have extended its reach far beyond its solar system. Just one sufficiently advanced civilization would have saturated enormous expanses of space with its intelligence, making them highly detectable. At the very least, we should have detected the plethora of radio signals broadcast over the ages. And yet the skies are silent.

What can account for the absence of intelligent life in the universe? It is highly improbable that an intelligent civilization would never adopt some form of radio communication. It is easy to invent radio and it is fundamental means of communication. And yet SETI has detected nothing in over twenty years of scanning the skies. Furthermore, even if a few highly advanced civilizations decided to remain hidden, it would be unlikely that they all would make that same decision. Either all other forms of intelligent life exist outside of our light sphere (assuming the speed of light cannot be exceeded), or perhaps we truly are alone.

Could it be, that the human species, with our constant warring and destructive nature, are the most intelligent beings in the universe? I, for one, think this is a shocking realization. Humans after all are still a product of blind, unintelligent forces. They are vastly inferior in design and capabilities to that which could be physically possible. The human brain, the most intelligent computer on the planet, is still at least 10^26 times computational slower than it could be for its mass. Humans, even with their current state of technology are still subject to horrible diseases, injury, aging, destructive emotions, needless suffering, and unavoidable death. I think that is proof enough to demonstrate the absence of any type of intelligent creator. We can, and will, do much better.

Right now we stand as the most intelligent beings, in our most enlightened time, on the verge of a change that will imbue us with intelligence and capabilities previously attributed to gods. I would say that we are very fortunate to be alive at this time. The coming decades will likely prove to be the most important time, not only in the history of humanity, but the history of the universe.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

VERY well-articulated, Shawn!


3:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find a few of your points toward the end a bit dubious. Take for instance the assertion that a lack of alien radio waves weighs as heavy evidence against alien life. If in fact alien life were to discover and use radio, does that mean that it would stay in use over a long course of time? Aren't there technologies that exist now that could antiquate radio very quickly here on earth. thus giving radio a lifespan of maybe 150-200 years for humans? Even if you were to give radio a lifespan of say 500 years that is still a relatively small blip on the grand scale. I've not researched this much but it just seems like the chances of two civilizations in the cosmos reaching a "radio era" simultaneously and observing one another seems fairly unlikely. This is why I never liked the idea of seti in the first place.

6:56 PM  

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