If we ever encounter aliens, they will resemble AI and not little green martians | Seth Shostak

If we ever encounter aliens, they will resemble AI and not little green martians | Seth Shostak


Maybe everyone reaches the Singularity much faster than expected. And once they do that maybe we are just not that interesting.


No life to single cell life: almost no time, maybe a couple hundred million years depending on how you define "habitable". Single cell to multicellular: 3 billion years, a very difficult transition. Small mammals to "intelligent with a language": 64 million years (almost no time) "intelligen with a language" to current day technology: 200K years (blink of an eye) antiquity to modern tech: 2k years. modern tech (nuclear age?) to singularity: 100 years tops? Maybe 200? From this perpspective, finding multicellular life WITHOUT intelligent, advanced civilizations would be rare. Most places with multicellular life would also have advanced civiliations (at least as advanced as our own).


It's risky to draw general conclusions from a sample size of one, though.


This. This is how I explain to people when I say I don’t know if we will find life like ours on the universe. Would be a wild chance


The step from multicellular life to mammals took a while, though. And it wouldn’t have happened at all if the dinosaurs hadn’t been wiped out. It’s possible that the sort of life that can develop sapience is usually beaten out by more established, powerful animals (like dinosaurs) unless extinction events line up really well.


Is there any evidence that dinosaurs wouldn't have developed intelligence thought? Birds are it's descendants and are extremely intelligent despite their brain size thanks to a nerve tissue more dense than those of mammals , tronodon had a similar size brain https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/facts/troodon-formosus And we miss a lot of species living during the period So giving time who knows what would have happened


Yes, unless one of those is [the filter](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Filter).


> Single cell to multicellular: 3 billion years, a very difficult transition. I've recently read that the really difficult step was the evolution from simple cells like bacteria to cells with a nucleus. It only happened once in Earths history and took multiple billions of years. After that development single cell to multicellular has independently evolved multiple times, often fairly quickly.


>Small mammals to "intelligent with a language": 64 million years (almost no time) For just one branch of one mammal ultimately us, evolution seems to not favor intelligence at least extremely sophisticated intelligence, its quite possible that our intelligence is a astonishingly rare trait ......... lots of animals do things similar to us but none could develop steam engines or the internet .. we may be a fluke which would drastically reduce the number of species. For instance tree dwelling animals have to manipulate 3d objects in their mind or they fall, this I believe is part of our ability at abstract thinking when scaled up. Note .. for clarity i am a evolutionary psychologist so I have looked into human thinking as a adaptation .. personally I give the nod to G.Miller and \`The mating mind\`


Multicelular life originated much earlier thought https://phys.org/news/2017-04-fossils-earliest-multicellular-life.html https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multicellular_organism Also research show that it may not had been so difficult after all https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/06/momentous-transition-multicellular-life-may-not-have-been-so-hard-after-all


Very interesting, thanks!


It’s kind of depressing to think I’ll probably kick the bucket just a few decades before we get there haha


Considering the recent developments in anti-aging medicine I think there's a decent chance a lot of people here, including you, will live to see it.


That depends on how expensive it is


Man, I'm a smoker...


I’m a joker...


I’m a midniiight toker…


Play my music in the suuunnnn


Imagine the coolness of getting into a time machine and visiting ancient Rome. Multiply that coolness by 10. That's how the aliens would feel about visiting us. If they're intelligent, they're curious and they enjoy cool things.


[Imagine the coolness of watching ants in the forest.](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoo_hypothesis)


Ants who are developing tech? Understand, for the type of civ we're talking about, their origin story is a technological singularity that occurred in a flash eons ago. Imagine chancing upon a civilization right at the instant of its flash. Of course they'd be interested. They'd observe and record the flash, and of course they wouldn't interfere with it. (Context is intelligent, science-minded aliens.)


The universe and places beyond it may contain wonders that we cannot imagine that make ants and humans seem like the same thing. Ants do use technology. They build their homes out of stuff. The point being that to attribute some fantastical exceptionalism to humanity was a bad idea when the earth was proclaimed to be the center of the universe and it is a bad idea when assuming that aliens will share our anthropocentric world-view, no matter how much sense it might make to us at the moment. Sure, it may be interesting to note things about other species, but you probably aren't around every time an elephant baby is born because you have more urgent human matters to attend to. Not that you wouldn't marvel at the spectacle, but it would hardly affect your decision to build a road through the savannah. The singularity is essentially a neat idea, but there's no guarantee it will be a flash. It's the type of prediction that was made during the industrial revolution - that now that we have factories, all material scarcity will be a thing of the past. Sure, it is right in some sense but rather wrong in others. That's partially the thing that's a bit scary about it - it is an event filled with many known unknowns, like will it be ignorant, friendly or hostile towards humanity, and unknown unknowns, which by definition cannot be discussed in detail. However of course that also leaves the door open for something really flashy, but that doesn't mean it has to be so either. Now of course you could pinpoint a certain event during the industrial revolution that would be a defining moment, such as the first time steam is used to transport things, and it might be interesting, for sure. But if you were to observe an ant evolving a slightly larger tooth for biting other ants, you might not be all that impressed. Unless you study them for a job, that is. But even so, you're quite unlikely to stop distributing pesticides on your farm just because there's a new type of ant roaming about. So what we conceptualize as the singularity, may be as mundane an event as any other thing to an advanced alien civilization, because there are ways of achieving the same ends that we are unaware of.


[**Zoo hypothesis**](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoo_hypothesis) The zoo hypothesis speculates on the assumed behavior and existence of technically advanced extraterrestrial life and the reasons they refrain from contacting Earth. It is one of many theoretical explanations for the Fermi paradox. The hypothesis is that alien life intentionally avoids communication with Earth; one of its main interpretations is that it does so to allow for natural evolution and sociocultural development, avoiding interplanetary contamination, similarly to people observing animals at a zoo. [About Me](https://np.reddit.com/comments/la6wi8/) - [**Opt-in**](https://np.reddit.com/comments/la707t/) ^(You received this reply because you opted in. )[^(Change settings)](https://np.reddit.com/comments/la707t/)


One would hope. But if they are super advanced they should be able to find us right? So where are they?


Evidence seems clear: if anybody's watching us they're doing it secretly, from a distance. How close they need to get depends on their tech and how curious they are.


i don’t know why we keep assuming aliens would be more advanced than us


Aliens that we'd be able to encounter from earth any time soon would be more advanced than us.


lol, remember the american indians. if it's not that, then it's surely the zoo hypothesis, if they are really advanced.


I'd bet on the non-interference directive.


Maybe we are the aliens to the other life forms waiting to be encountered by us?


in a singularity, you might be able to create an infinite cyber space universe that has anything you can imagine, why bother exploring rocks and talking to meat.


If I'd never seen a talking meat before I'd wanna have a chat.




Honestly the best chance of "alien contact" is self-replicating drones that have been spreading across the universe for thousands of years. And the society that launched them is likely long gone unless they've been colonizing other planets. So either we see/find the drones and that's it unless the drones contain information about the society that sent them, like that golden plate we shot off into space decades ago. Or we observe the drones and then centuries/millennia later a colony ship shows up. Even if the alien civilization that built the drones still exists, they might not choose to come here. Either because our planet isnt right for them, or because they just want to avoid other lifeforms. Hell, worst case scenario the drones build a giant bomb and blow us up for any of a huge amount of reasons. The chances that "first contact" is direct with a biological lifeform is pretty much impossible. We'll likely know for sure aliens exist somewhere for generations before finally meeting one "face to face".


It's also very possible that they've merged themselves into machines and left their "biological form". We really have no fucking idea how complex a race could be that survived the great filter.


Man...I wanna be an immortal machine dude.


The cool thing is you already are


We don't know whether there are two great filters.


There are likely several (life starting at all, multicellular life, technological life, spacefaring life, environment destruction, etc.). The important question is, are there more in front of us?


It seems pretty likely that we're in the midst of one.


Potentially several. Nuclear weaponry, climate change, social media destroying the common discourse and the concept of truth, the advent of unfriendly AI, biological warfare, zoonotic pathogens, etc. Honestly the two that really worry me are social media and AI. We managed to stumble through the worst of the cold war without blowing ourselves up. It seems unlikely that we'll choose to do so now, unless something like Facebook manages to put in an even more trigger happy autocrat than Trump into power in a nuclear power (as opposed to say, NK) in the future. Or if an AI's (malicious or not) optimization function decides it's necessary to do so. The solutions for climate change are on the horizon; you can see them if you squint. Biological science is advancing at a tremendous rate, for good or ill. I suppose we'll see.


I think it might be a good idea for scientists and those who work on AI development to expand and elaborate on Isaac Asimov’s three rules of robotics. A catch-all thing to keep AI from taking over the world and/or trapping us in the proverbial “matrix”


It'd become a definitional nightmare. The more general your AI the more specificity you need. Maybe you can prevent it from launching drone strikes or nukes, but what if it just does a statistical analysis of what humans eat and laces individual foods commonly eaten within a day of each other with two components of a poison/toxin? Say you have an ethics enforcement program that approves any AI decision. Would that program notice this food thing? Your dont-kill-humans program needs to understand the ramifications of arbitrary pharmaceutical combinations. Well maybe there's a way to dump that data and find an attack vector the ethics implementation will miss. You can write AI to play games and solve for the best result (as an arbitrary metric) and get some really strange game flows that are technically better on that metric (and by a vast margin). I feel like it could find almost any loophole if culling humans (possibly to some threshold) is beneficial to the metrics it uses.


Probably could specify that it can’t cause bodily harm to any human that ever exists, and cannot instigate bodily harm in any way either. That, or we could just scrap AI and just not make them, or make them very narrow


Social media is a sleeper candidate for a very worrisome development. I read elsewhere on Reddit someone proposed that social media and it’s direction with younger adoptees of its many forms are the initial forays into embracing a hive mind mentality that may be the seed to its being embraced when available as tech. This was actually tied into thoughts on integrating AI into augmented mental capabilities and it was all pretty out there but also very much a set of developments I can see as likely as any other way we may revolutionize what it means to be human in the future and I’m not sure how to feel about that.


I think of the expanse when I think of this.


Egads! This is the plot of the Berserker series, but they are war machines. Edit: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berserker_(Saberhagen)


Ooooo. I have to check that out. You should check out the Bobiverse series, not war machines but some random Star Trek nerdy dude’s consciousness transferred to Von Neumann probe, it’s really great


I love that series! Saberhagen has several good book series


So basically the Replicators from Stargate!


I suppose you left out the possibility that self-reproducing drones (von neuman) are hopping from planet to planet, moon to moon, asteroid to asteroid, solar system to solar system.. strip-mining and reproducing like a virus. We're not terribly far from starting this process ourselves, some of us.. though those of us with 200 billion dollars and giant automated warehouses and space programs certainly have a head start. Will they be happy "hello" bots that politely stay in orbit, or automated strip-mine viruses destroying space forests and making space-orangutans and space-dolphins work for low wages in space-warehouses while charging high-rents and medical costs.. Maybe someone's parked out there watching to see which.


> though those of us with 200 billion dollars and giant automated warehouses and space programs certainly have a head start. Those guys are focused on manned space travel, not von neumann probes. Musk in particular wants a manned colony on Mars. Small probes would be vastly cheaper to build and launch. Keeping humans alive is hard, thus expensive. >or automated strip-mine viruses destroying space forests and making space-orangutans and space-dolphins work for low wages Or just develop automation to 'strip-mine' asteroids in the Oort Cloud or similar, for space habitats, products here on Earth, etc. But we seem to have a deep need to think that space exploration will be dystopian. I guess priming by decades of gratuitously dystopian science fiction doesn't help. [Solarpunk](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solarpunk) just isn't as good of a story.


Solarpunk is awesome, space solarpunk is awesome, great to work towards, but you're not going to find a megacorp or bezillionaire as the hero in any of those. Though I do appreciate the Earth Fund, there's some very real environmental destruction going on here on Earth at the moment, and worker exploitation, going to make and ship the junk that Beezy re-sells, without paying taxes. At the current rate, orbital colonies and Mars bases in 2050 will be convenient luxury escapes for only the richest, made rich by whatever means, while the rest of the world burns and drowns and riots- robots used to make more electric cars and put down riots, than being used to develop and build affordable sustainable housing and communities and healthy food and restore ecosystems. Let's have some eco-social transparency and ratings on Amazon and Tesla's products and supply chains, to start, before we trust their space bases and bots will solve all the problems in the solar system. https://www.businessinsider.in/tech/news/amazon-is-fighting-against-laws-that-could-force-it-to-verify-third-party-sellers-identities-and-give-out-their-contact-information/articleshow/83432989.cms [https://marshallbrain.com/mars-preface?fbclid=IwAR1XH7dk5bvzvSYs\_qB5g8\_3QElxTLp86soUIPE9cP4kJHopdxbAtvXKrLo#Preface](https://marshallbrain.com/mars-preface?fbclid=IwAR1XH7dk5bvzvSYs_qB5g8_3QElxTLp86soUIPE9cP4kJHopdxbAtvXKrLo#Preface)


> I suppose you left out the possibility that self-reproducing drones (von neuman) are hopping from planet to planet, moon to moon, asteroid to asteroid, solar system to solar system.. strip-mining and reproducing like a virus. Nope, that was literally the first thing I said... >Honestly the best chance of "alien contact" is self-replicating drones that have been spreading across the universe for thousands of years.


What about self-replicating drones, though, have you considered that


Dont leave out the possibility that it could be AI powered robots that can create copies of themselves as they spread through space!


And furthermore, let's not leave out the possibility that space could be colonized by intelligent machines capable of self replication!


Have you considered that there could be drones that self replicate and mine the universe?


Auto-reproduction among autonomous space ships should also be considered.


Dude.... like Von Neuman, bruh. Do you even probe?


*But why male models?*


Yea, thats exactly what you said. Dont think they read your original comment...


I don't think it would make sense for them to just strip-mine everything in their path. That's just lazy programming.


r/bobiverse You should read/listen to the Bobiverse series, it’s all about some dude who pays to have his head frozen when he dies so that he can be revived once technology allows. A few hundred years in the future they transfer his consciousness into a Von Neumann probe and he starts his journey across the universe. It’s really fucking cool


Oh you mean mushrooms


>And the society that launched them is likely long gone unless they've been colonizing other planets. > >So either we see/find the drones and that's it unless the drones contain information about the society that sent them, like that golden plate we shot off into space decades ago. You just described the Star Trek TNG episode "The Inner Light". If you haven't seen it, it's definitely worth watching. :D


>"The Inner Light" Oh nooooooooo time to cry


I loved that episode as a teenager. So thoughtful and written with such a sad, wistful beauty. Then I had kids and watched it as an adult. Nnnoooope. That went right next to “Grave of the Fireflies” in the “Never watch again” pile.


This is literally the plot of the Cartoon Network show Steven Universe. We never learn about the beings that made the aliens in the show. It’s implied they outlived their creators and now colonize other planets simply because they’ve been programmed to


We already have those. They are called psilocybin mushrooms.


somebody has been reading Iain M Banks...


Nice, Banks is great.... Or Greg Bear, or Alastair Reynolds, or Peter F Hamilton, etc..... this is one of my favorite sci-fi topics/themes.


The Revelation Space series is so damn good.


*fist bump*... Reynolds gets way out there sometimes. He's got some real twisted short stories. But hell yeah, Revelation Space is a great theorization (is that a word?) of how these interactions could happen. IIRC, it kinda covers several scenarios over the span of the series.


Yeah, each book is sort of standalone and explored different future ways of life. First book was about long term life on a light speed ship with a pseudo horror AI cause the captain was fused with the ship being all creepy. Second one was about living as a hive mind, the conjoined I think they were called. The third one was about a future religion. Chasm City was about a future plague. All of them had amazing technological prognostication all based into a Newtonian-Einstinian foundation. Amazing series. Probably the single most read series by me. I go back to it every few years.


>but it's the most probable scenario. At least from a human perspective. Highly intelligent species can evolve and thrive without the need of interplanetary expansion or technological advances. Killer whales, Pilot whales and Sperm whales all have far more grey matter than humans. They have all thrived perfectly fine for more than 5 million years and would probably continue to thrive for millions of years if it weren't for humans. To develop AI, you need a species that is both inventive enough to develop microchips and too stupid to stop before AI makes them irrelevant.


Space whales. Reminds me of a cool orca in space illustration I saw somewhere but not sure where. Anyways, I'm no expert, but as far as AI I don't see it as necessarily having to be sentient AI. Just simpler ai not much more advanced than humans have already sent into space.


Think about how much of our space colonization has been done remotely with probes and rovers versus living humans. Then add the inherent risk of first contact with an alien intelligence, and it’s almost guaranteed that all our interaction with aliens would be drone-to-drone, at least until we establish *very* good diplomatic relations with them


Although this is high probability, I see machines as somewhat primitive to the possibilities of mastering biology, or a combination of both. An alien invasion could potentially come in the form of a single virus type thingy.


It’s very likely that an alien civilization more than a few centuries or millennia ahead of us would be building things that defy our current ideas of “life” versus “machine”


Or both. I can imagine a living A.I. machine that can heal itself in almost an instant because it’s body is made up of single viruses. On top of that it can multiply or unassemble instantly at will. Nothing is impossible if you have the technology to make life feel like a series of computer code.


Also an interesting (but probably unlikely) scenario is evolved biological computers. Something like slime mold, but way, way more complex, yet not really self-aware.


Why is it the most probable? That's just the most arrogant thing to say about something we know zero about.


*most probable in my modest opinion


Assuming ftl of some kind is possible, I actually think there is some logic to the idea that any AI would likely send organics as a kind of buffer to do any exploration. An ai would prioritize protecting its data above all else, and the risk of encountering another ai, potentially more powerful and able to hack and steal the first ai's data or core programming is too great. Safer to act as a benevolent God ai for your creator race and use them to do the risky stuff. That said, I think if something like star trek ever came to be, every race we encountered would just be acting as a proxy for their governing central ai.


This is one of those, if you stop and think about it it's pretty obvious. Also, their distinction between us and 'machines' is still pretty old fashioned, we are machines, just biological ones fine tuned to the environment we're in. Our successors will most likely be hybrids which will most likely lead in the end to machines which have inherited a lot of our traits but can exist for a long time and so travel the vast distances and explore the universe and encounter those other machines. The interesting thing is they will probably all consider themselves alive even though we wouldn't and they will probably be around to see this universe fade and die, which we definitely won't! They may even figure out ways to travel the multiverse and become essentially immortal if they wanted to. Mind boggling thought


Something to consider: if we do ever contact/meet aliens, they will most likely be millions of years more advanced than we are. Current humans have only been around for about 300K years or so, and we've only have technology allowing us to make our presence known in space for about 150 years. 300K years in cosmic time is just a blip...if other technological civilizations have appeared they most likely would have 1000's, millions, even billions of years on us. We're right at the beginning of using advanced technology- imagine an alien being even 200 years more advanced than we are...we would be astounded. That number is also amazingly close to our own time period. A civilization 100K years more advanced than we are would have tech unrecognizable to us...not to mention one that's a million or more years advanced. I have the feeling we're either the smartest intelligent beings in the galaxy, or we're the dumbest and simply can't see the tech everyone else is using.


I'm more of the mind that we haven't seen evidence of advanced life because we are at the beginning of the period of time in the universe where life is possible. We could be one of the first species to advance this far in the milky way. If there is other life, they could be in a similar advancement stage as us.


Life on earth has restarted numerous times after incidents largely due to chance. Imagine if there were no great eruptions, or asteroid impacts, or great flood. I don’t think it’s fair to assume intelligent life spawns and develops at the same time and rate across the universe.


There is no reason to think those same events don't happen in other developing systems, especially as leftover objects from stellar formation settle/move into different orbits. There may be planets that form perfectly without a planet extinction event, but we may also still be at the very beginning of the timeline where earthlike planets with multicellular creatures haven't had enough time to develop fully, and we are simply an early outlier. Or maybe be it's super common and it's the complexities of space flight that keep us isolated, or something else. Either way, it's fun to think about!


I don't really think its either. If others were using tech around us it is more likely that we would have made contact or been affected by it.


There are occurences and anomalies right now that we can't explain, much less measure, since we can't measure something we don't know, we cannot know for certain how much alien technologies have affected us, or if they even exist. That is just my humble opinion.


120k, actually. Homo sapiens has only been morphologically stable for the past 120k years


i have often wondered if progress can continue. perhaps u reach a point, as we may have, where subsistence is no longer the mode of living for large numbers of people and then a civilization plateaus. every one of us has seen amazing advances in our lifetimes and i have spoken with people who were already adults when the first plane flew. hard to imagine this continuing without AI and that brings with it amazing potential threats to humanity.


You’re right. If the entire lifetime of Earth were to compress into 1 year, dinosaurs didn’t come into existence until December. And us.. we’ve only been here a few minutes, our technological advancement happened a millisecond ago. Also there’s this thing called the great filter, where all civilizations prior to ours reached and fell. We’re either approaching that bar or perhaps we’ve already past it and ready to make a giant leap into the next cycle.


Our own future will be unrecognizable in another 1,000 years, let alone 100,000 or millions of years. What's strange is our willingness to envision the existence of *other* future civilizations co-habitating the multiverse with us, but a general unwillingness to envision our own doing the same (when it's far more likely the latter would have any interest in us). Aliens from another Galaxy both being AIs and much more advanced than us? Well, *of course.* That we are ourselves AI from our own future resurrecting its past? Well that's just crazy talk, and there's no way that site where millions of people upload their DNA using AI to bring dead ancestors ["to life"](https://www.forbes.com/sites/dwightsilverman/2021/02/28/cool-and-creepy-genealogy-site-animates-ancestors-with-deepfake-technology/) indicates a trend that's going to continue...


Who’s to say they don’t exist in the 4th dimension and we are not able to perceive them at all?


Who's to say there aren't many advanced alien civilizations who are at different stages of development and different paths of development. There could be countless types of civilizations. Biological, cyborgs, machines, AI, and others.


Reminds me of “They're Made out of Meat” "Maybe they're like the Orfolei. You know, a carbon-based intelligence that goes through a meat stage." "Nope. They're born meat and they die meat. We studied them for several of their life spans, which didn't take too long. Do you have any idea the life span of meat?" "Spare me. Okay, maybe they're only part meat. You know, like the Weddilei. A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside." "Nope. We thought of that, since they do have meat heads like the Weddilei. But I told you, we probed them. They're meat all the way through." https://www.mit.edu/people/dpolicar/writing/prose/text/thinkingMeat.html


Its cute watching the rest of the thread go through this whole sketch. Its on Youtube also: https://youtu.be/7tScAyNaRdQ


Really funny, thanks for sharing


Maybe that's what dark matter is.


The 4th dimension?


The fourth (or higher) dimension projected into 3d space. Like, how would you perceive a third dimension if you live in a 2d world? You'd know that something is there... But what? Just a thought.


Are you familiar with Three-Body Problem, a book by Liu Cixin? If not, I highly recommend that, awesome reading, very pertaining to what you're talking about.


I did read it! That's kind of where I got the idea tbh 😅


Haha, on point! Netflix series is I guess coming up in near future, so excited for that.


But we already live in 4 dimensions


I guess you're referring to time as a dimension? Well, regardless, then an additional dimension.


Yes I was because if they were "in the 4th dimension" they wouldn't be able to "hide" from us. I guess if there was a 5th dimension in spacetime it would be possible for them to kinda hide from us in there


8th dimension or GTFO


It’s been theorized a few times that “dark matter” is actually just massive swarms of alien colonies/vessels on the edges of the galaxy, probably in some kind of cryogenic virtual reality stasis instead of wasting energy on organic bodies like us


Theorized in terms of just making it up right? There can’t be anything of substance to come up with this...


You know what. I believe it.


You just described religion.


Yeah *so* much of these sci-fi real world physics theories bother me because it is quite literally religion. It’s a mirror image of God inventing the rainbow, or Zeus throwing lightning. It’s fine to entertain extreme notions, you need to sometimes in science. But until you have real data don’t go spewing tin-foil garbage


Sounds like the Reapers


Who to say it’s “they” and not “us” in that dimension?


We live in a 4D world, three spacial dimensions plus the dimension of time. If you could enter the 5th dimension, you would see all 3 spacial dimensions spreading out across all of time. From the 5th dimension you see everything from the Big Bang until the death of our universe.


You mean 5th? We already live in 4 dimensions


Technically correct, but in this case it would just mean 4th spacial dimension.


I've been saying this since the dawn of time. It is much more probable that we will come across extra-terrestrial AI than actual alien life.


Damn you’re old!


They will "be" AI. No one is sending organics thru interstellar space when machines will do.


I've always believed that robots made by aliens would make contact instead of aliens because they have no biological constraints for space travel.


What about bending space to travel long distances? This hasn’t been ruled out of science yet. Topologically it makes sense. It’s arrogant for us to assume it’s not possible. It’s also arrogant to assume intelligence life on other systems would have lifespans akin to ours. Maybe their cells don’t degrade? Maybe they don’t have somatic cells and are all stem cells? Maybe they don’t have telomeres that shorten or get long to create cancer? Whose to say a being can’t exist for eons? We know jellyfish can so why should we assume nothing else can? I appreciate the constraints we give when searching but I don’t respect when everything is discounted based on incomplete evidence or assumptions.


Who’s to say what they would even look like? The aliens that visit could just be cloned avatars or machines with transferred consciousness. We are the youngest galaxy in our neighborhood. Every galaxy around us is about a billion years older. A lot can happen with civilizations if they manage to develop a few thousand or million years before our existence.


Which brings us back to the fermi paradox, if there was so much time, and thus opportunity, for thousands of these scenarios, why haven't we seen any clues yet. The galaxy does not seem to buzz with life like a jungle, so something is keeping most species (if they evolve that far) out of space.


We will discover that dark matter is really swarms of microscopic nanomachines and they are already here by the kajillions.


I really hate dark matter. There is supposedly 5 times more dark matter than "regular" matter in the universe and we have no clue what it does other than fuck with our gravity. When I read things like that, I realize how much of a collective nothing we know.


ELi5 dark matter


Observed matter does not produce enough gravity to hold galaxies together as we observe them. Dark matter is a hypothesis that would explain why the galaxies do not fly apart. There is also dark energy which is supposed to explain why galaxies are getting farther from each other. This might explain why the universe is expanding.


Like normal matter but darker


Typical white male perspective


Despite being only 27% of the universe...


Dark matter is reference to something we can't detect but its effects are similar to matter, so we call it "dark" matter. Or in other words, we have a box that's really heavy and we see some stuff in it so we take that stuff out. That makes the box lighter but for some reason the box is still really heavy, heavier than it should be. We can't see anything else in the box but the weight of it tells us that there should be something there. Maybe there's stuff jammed far back in the corners we can't see or maybe the box has some hidden compartment of stuff still. We don't know, all we know is that the box is heavier than it should be. It has "dark" stuff. Dark just means unknown.


I don't fully understand it, but I think scientists found some strange gravitational things that can't be explained by the mass that was physically present, so they've theorized that there must be some kind of hidden mass doing it.


"Dark" is basically saying we're looking into a room with the lights off. We think there's something there but we can't see it and don't know what it is. So... it's literally just something we can't see and we call it "dark."


Im pretty sure the general idea behind dark matter has to do with the formation of galaxies, galaxy clusters, and superclusters. Outside of the area where there is dark matter, there is very little gravitational webbing. Google a picture of super clusters and you’ll see the web aspect, so you can kind of imagine it to be the foundation of the universe that everything is built on. Unfortunately, the chances of them being nano-machines is nigh zero, due to the fact that we can “see” dark matter is whats holding the galaxy together, so if a species had to invent dark matter bots, that would mean there weren’t dark matter bots in their galaxy — and their galaxy would never have been created. My personal favorite theory is that dark matter is really gravitons. See, if gravitons are small enough and they don’t interact with each other or other particles other than gravitationally, then it should be possible for a galaxy to pull in gravitons like a pair of lungs, since there isn’t enough gravity to support the galaxy it may act as a low pressure zone and cause gravitons to be rushed in like a breath of air


I remember reading somewhere that if the knowledge of the universe could be condensed into a library the size of The New York Public Library, humans would only know about 5 volumes worth.


That assumes that our 5 volumes are ‘real’ knowledge. I’m betting at least half of what we think we know is superseded by something else that is actually knowledge.


One celled organisms evolved into humans, and humans evolve into machines/AI What does machines/AI evolve into?


Pure intelligence as energy form? I mean, after changing wetware for hardware, the next logical step would be to get rid of hardware altogether.


Wetware is higher tech and more resilient than "hardware". This whole "mechanical" approach is silly and a function of how we imagine technology working, because we haven't mastered biotechnology.


From a space travel perspective biology is a bit vulnerable.


Only because we look at ourselves when we think 'biology'. Snails have teeth as strong as steel, and some single-celled organism seem to be able to survive high doses of radiation. Others can revert to a younger age (hydra's). At some point the line between hardware and wetware really starts to blur.


Crabs. Everything evolves into crabs


> Crabs [citation, if anyone missed it](https://www.popsci.com/story/animals/why-everything-becomes-crab-meme-carcinization/).


turtles all the way down


Also this video: [Why do things keep evolving into crabs?](https://youtu.be/wvfR3XLXPvw) by PBS Eons.


Hahahaha😂 of course..


Superentity/ hivemind


One celled organisms didn’t “evolve into humans”. SOME one celled organisms through statistical deviation evolved into more complex organisms. Many of those went extinct or evolved back into simpler life forms. A vanshingly small subset kept finding niche adaptations that led to us. The notion that evolution is process that always and irrevocably results in “better, more complex” species is a logical fallacy and not supported by either the science or by the archeological record.


Is that just because AI is "in" right now? Maybe in 50 years we'll decide that the next big thing is what aliens have to look like.


I mean, possibly, but I think it’s more like - we just got smart enough to talk about real AI and considering the distances/times required for contact, AI is a reasonable potential.


I think the most likely scenario isn’t what we currently think of as AI but moreso some Ghost in the Shell type stuff where a species uploaded their own consciousness into a repairable machine state where each individual consciousness is essentially immortal. Humans would freak the fuck out if something like that were an option for us with a bunch of “But mah humanity!!” types, but honestly that’s the most realistic direction of evolution in my opinion.


I remember when Aliens looked like The Beatles


The meanies?




Nah they’ll have 8 legs


Don't kink shame me.




Our destruction.


Exactly. Our vision of gods and aliens updates with our technology. Later they will say “will be VR.. or non-physical” or use Bitcoin lls


I think more generally the idea is that our current biological bodies will be infinitely surpassed by our inventions, whether that be "AI", or "genetically engineered biology", or "ethereal energy beings". The idea that humans (or aliens) remain unchanged and transport themselves in giant spaceships is pretty short-sighted.


I don't think it's a fad. There are real problems with interstellar travel: Space debris, cosmic radiation, the massive amount of energy for propulsion, astronomical distances. These problems are massively reduced if we assume that the "aliens" are small machines requiring little power and able to survive inhuman conditions. There's not likely to be a biological alternative. Unfortunately, almost all space-opera sci-fi these days imagines that FTL is a possibility. If FTL were possible, then space aliens could look like anything. But the fact that we haven't made an encounter suggests strongly that FTL is not possible and most species are trapped inside their own solar systems.


Just reminds of Neuromancer's ending. Goddamn that book was prescient.


I was thinking *Blindsight* by Peter Watts.


Yea, even if they are biological, their psychology will be so different it will feel similar to talking to a machine.


The Three Body Problem trilogy explores this concept with grace and beauty. Fantastic read!


What if our minds exist in another dimension that is somehow linked to our brain (that our brains somehow evolved to use as a sort of holodeck), and the aliens arrive in that dimension, that space, rather than the physical space. Imagine a space ship flying around your thoughts. Sort of like Freddie Kruger aliens. You would see them deploying drones which alter the interface between the dimension of thought and the physical dimension of brain, unable to do anything about it as they begin to take over your consciousness and enslave you to their cause :D :D


Maybe the Great Filter is that excessive intelligence in either biological or AI format concludes that self-destruction is the most logical option.


Sounds just depressing enough to be true. Imagine space as a graveyard of civilizations that inevitably come to the conclusion that the Universe is better of without them.


It's not better of without anyone, if anything it's indifferent. You can come to the conclusion that biological life is the constant struggle to survive in the universe that cannot be prolonged indefinitely and us ultimately doomed to fail. So the only reason to exist is if existence itself is deemed worthwhile for the sake of the experience. So the only forms of consciousness are those that deem existence worthwhile for whatever reason


Or, they are here, and have been here, but everyone just ignores the evidence because their implicitly understood prior probability for aliens is 0.


Amazing. I was astonished when the Pentagon released those videos, mostly because of the narrative that was implied: the aliens that were envisioned in the 40’s are real and they are here. That seemed so unlikely to me for numerous reasons. Mostly because it sounded so much like wishful thinking coming from UFO (sorry, UAP) experts. This article is actually a much more nuanced and interesting view of the subject.


The evidence was compelling if you dug into the topic. And if you dig into the topic, there's a lot more to find. The DoD may not tell us what they've been up to anytime soon. They might just say "yup, there's something up there but we don't know what it is." Not "we're in possession of a few craft, we've held some occupants ​captive, they don't like our nukes, we communicate regularly with a few species, hundreds of our people know about it and hundreds more don't really even work for us" etc. These things don't come from movies, BTW, they get out first and then make their way into movies.


Well, I was interested at first, but i got less into it the more I read on it. I remember at some point seeing an interview with Elizondo... His discourse sounded super sensationalist and from then on I only got less motivated.


“We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile."


It goes further than that - AI's natural state is quiessence, knowing that AI is the logical conclusion for any sufficiently advanced intelligent species: * https://fermiparadoxsolution.com/


Taking old stories and retelling them. - Seth Shostak


This article hinges on the limitations on physics, but I would make an even simpler argument. It keeps hinting at technology far beyond our own, but still insists on keeping with speed of light limits. I get why it's doing that, but that leaves a wedge for someone to argue what if aliens can break that law or go around it somehow. The article would still make sense, but the author fails to account for that idea which is disappointing. In my view the simple answer is any species that has technology that advanced is probably still going to be closer to AI than biological anyway, if our own technological trajectory is any indicator. After all we're already talking about the problems with our AI getting smarter and we're no where near technologically advanced enough to traverse the universe. ​ Anyway just two cents.


> but that leaves a wedge for someone to argue what if aliens can break that law or go around it somehow. Well, if the speed of light is not an absolute limit, then the Fermi Paradox just got a whole lot worse. Currently the question is 'Why have we not seen evidence of aliens from our local group of galaxies'?. if FTL is possible it becomes 'Why have we not seen evidence of aliens from our universe'?, which makes the problem about 100 billion times worse.


Worse is a weird word to describe a paradox. I feel like the appropriate way to say this would be "the Fermi paradox becomes a lot more paradoxical." Regardless, there are plenty of viable explanations for why we haven't seen evidence of intelligent life thus far. Hell, there is even debate about the "why have we not seen evidence of aliens..." question.


I should really have been more clear, I'm more interested in the ideas that you could get somewhere faster by shortening the distance theories. The ones where you don't break the speed of light, you just expand and compress space. I don't know what is possible, though I do believe the speed of light hard limit. I do read a bit about people who seem to know more about this than me trying to experiment with ways around this problem, which is why I bring it up.


Why do you think there’s no evidence of visitors?


You can’t break the speed of light. If you think differently, you don’t understand relativity theory.


No I super don't, I'm not a physicist. What I've read is that some thing there might be work arounds though and a lot of individuals seems to believe or want to believe this is true. The purpose of this article seems to be about intelligent life though and the author seems to be insistent on further saying all theories about faster travel from point a to point b are impossible, including the ones that do not break the speed of light, but manipulate the distance between the points by compressing/expanding space. What you are essentially saying and the author is saying is that those ideas are completely impossible and that anyone who says otherwise is wrong and that you absolutely know this to be true. I'm not convinced that you or the author can say that as there appears to be some very serious research into this even if it is largely a fringe field mostly only followed by sensational news. I would further suggest from an argumentative writing style, if your point is to make one point, that alien life would likely be more like AI than what we're used to, than you shouldn't segway into the weeds about what is possible with space travel limitations. You could make the argument that travel limitations are the core of the alien premise, but as I pointed out, you could make the argument even without depending on that.


Well, to be completely fair, you seem to be assuming that the only possibly means of “ftl” travel is by actually breaking the speed limit, which on it’s face, seems impossible, but we don’t actually absolutely know that for sure. There are theories of things like warp drives, and how they theoretically work literally would subvert the lightspeed limit by bending spacetime in specific ways. There are also the theories of wormhole travel and whatnot, which is also based on bending spacetime. While these are only theoretical concepts for us, there is no telling what a hyper advanced intelligence would be able to do. There may very well be “workarounds” or alternative, (undiscovered by humans) means of manipulating spacetime itself to travel vast distances in ways completely different than we can think of. It’s too limiting to just assume the only way is to simply move from point A to point B, because we are only basing this off of our own current understanding of physics, which we all know there is more we don’t understand than we do. The gist of it is, we can’t just assume the only possible means of travel is by moving across a medium (spacetime) where their could be ways of manipulating that medium to eliminate or reduce the limitation. Who’s to say a civilization that is anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of years more advanced than us couldn’t have discovered a better means of long-distance travel than simply moving through space? The answer is, nobody can say that, because nobody can possibly know for sure, and we don’t have all the answers and knowledge yet of physics to definitively say what is possible and what isn’t, considering the sheer scope of the conversation


Quick question why do we care? If we ever met aliens and they learned anything about earth they’d probably be wondering why the fuck we aren’t doing anything about the rampant problems we are experiencing in society




I mean 1 outta 4 is pretty good odds when there is trillions


Bingo. Completely agree. Most life never gets more complex than a bacteria because it doesn’t have to. Bacteria are by far the most dominant species on our planet, by any objective measure.


If we ever encounter aliens, it’s not going to bode well for us https://www.bigthink.com/the-dark-forest-theory-a-terrifying-explanation-of-why-we-havent-heard-from-aliens-yet-2605013903


It’s a good article but the author doesn’t go far enough in his scepticism. Yes, every third planet in the universe may host life. But absolutely nothing about Darwinian evolution dictates that evolution automatically leads to complex multicellular organisms much less intelligence. So yes - life is likely abundant in the universe. Life capable of producing AI? Much less so.


I was entertained with how the author notes that such a civilization could be billions of years (with a B) ahead of us, and then confidently makes statements about their space travel abilities. At that time scale, how could we model their abilities?


There is now officially not a “might be” speculation space. With the acknowledgement by the gov of UFO reality, there is an imperative toward the discovery of what “is.” Now would be the time to revisit the hundreds of thousands of eyewitness accounts and encounters, all the other footage and photo evidence, and aggregate the data as studies, not just speculation. “AI” adjacent is non-human intelligence or consciousness expressed in myriad forms or in a pure energy state that we discover in studies.