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Cynic

The search for intelligence, here and not

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Hello forum,

 

I joined just now to post this question. I didn't see it on a quick search. I've been wondering about this for some time but I'm only on 2 other forums regularly, drag racing and shooting, and those were not exactly the kind of places to get much of a conversation going about my question.

 

So, what I've wondering and I'd appreciate hearing thoughts on this, is the expectation of intelligent extraterrestrial life. I realize that a search for extraterrestrial life should necessarily be focused on that which is intelligent because it's more reasonable to assume that such life would create some sort of detectable signature.

 

My question though is why should we assume that intelligence is that common and not just some evolutionary rarity of the highest order? If we look at the history of all life on earth, intelligence, of a kind detectable over interstellar distances, is vanishingly rare. If we define intelligence as the sign of some pinnacle of evolution, then we are indeed successful. However, there have been tremendously successful species that have had no need of highly evolved intelligence. If we measure success by planetary biomass, we're not really all that successful (although we're working hard at that).

 

Anyway, given that intelligence does not need to be viewed as some sort of "end goal" of evolution, and given how exceedingly rare it's been in the history of life on our planet, why should we expect it to be the least bit common elsewhere? The universe might be teeming with life, just not the kind that makes iPads.

Edited by Cynic

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We're not really in a position to look for any other kind outside of our own solar system at the moment.

 

As the drunk said, this is where the light is.

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While we're justifiably concerned about the complexities of meeting another species capable of leaving their own homeworld via intelligent means, the majority of our detection methods are already aimed at much simpler biological markers. Light and heat signals can tell us much about whether conditions* in an exoplanet's atmosphere suggest life may be present.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Successfully used the phrase "whether conditions" in a sentence, won a 5 euro bet with imatfaal.

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You literally asked for this so don't blame me.

 

You need a very freaking large biomass and a lot of time for intelligence to form. Doesn't matter what the biomass is made of, Just having it is a condition in itself.

 

Then you need a variety of animals because for intelligence you will need hunters (evolved from cannibalism due to the infection disadvantage so add infectious diseases as a condition), Once you have a few hunter species, your animals will surely be presented with enough different situations to grow a sophisticated prediction system (what you call intelligence), Specially the weakest hunters of every size range. But they shouldn't be too efficient because a higher efficiency level usually means your evolution stops.

 

The larger the biomass, The faster you get intelligence because it increases your chances.

 

Brute force is another problem on the social level. Some animals will always choose brute force as their winning condition, When that happens evolution stops. You need your animal to fight over resources with itself, So it should be specialized in a way it couldn't access most of the biomass (the human problem with cellulose and probably why cows never developed intelligence).

 

 

This can only be solved by seasonal food. When your food changes in every season, You will have to deal with many different situations, So you will develop intelligence.

 

To conclude, These are all pretty standard things that happen by themselves without any miracles. So i would say extraterrestrial intelligent life exists for sure.

Edited by nimae

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You also have to take into account that we can't see very much of the universe to begin with. The radius of the visible universe is 14 billion light years because the universe is 14 billion years old - the universe could be much bigger than that. On top of that, the further out you try to look, the further into the past that you will be looking. There could be intelligent life even within that 14 billion lightyear radius that simply isn't visible to us because the light hasn't reached us yet. Alas, this assumes that their technology is limited by the constraints of relativity.

 

We have yet to see whether humans will go extinct, but I've used humanity as an example to generate an hypothesis about why intelligent organisms might tend toward extinction. Humans do less adapting to their environments because they can use their intelligence to do the reverse, to adapt their environments to them, but alas humans are short-sighted. These changes make us better adapted in the short-term, and indeed these technological changes ultimately gave us the extra free-time that led to intellectual progress, but in the long-term this technology upsets the processes of the ecosystem that we originally evolved to. If we make these changes too quickly and cannot address their long-term effects quickly enough, then we go extinct. Thus our own intelligence leads to the extinction of everything on which we depend and ultimately the extinction of ourselves.

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Maybe intelligent life really is a rare thing.

 

I mean why else haven't aliens contacted us by now?

If intelligent alien beings really existed in abundance in our Galaxy then they would have contacted us by now unless something really prevents communication with us.

 

If we look at the evidence, it took 4 billion years for humans to reach their current status and we all know that 'survival of the fittest' doesn't always mean the 'survival of the smartest'.

 

Maybe intelligent life is more rare than we like to think and this could be the reason why aliens haven't contacted us by now.

Edited by seriously disabled

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My question though is why should we assume that intelligence is that common and not just some evolutionary rarity of the highest order?

Hi Cynic

A very good post by you and BTW me and Enrico Fermi agree so your in good company.

 

http://abyss.uoregon.edu/~js/cosmo/lectures/lec28.html

This article claims the Milky Way could be explored in less than 4 million years but I have seen estimates up to 50 million years. It doesn't really matter because the Milky Way is over 10 billion years old. Any long lived (as in millions of years of continuous existence) intelligent community with a curiosity like ours would have colonized or at least explored the galaxy by now. So either they don't exist,my opinion, or they are not very curious or technological civilizations tend to end their selves fairly quickly.

 

I hope that in my lifetime someone or something will land on Jupiter's moon Europa and probe the ocean that almost surely exists under the ice. I think that big moment will give us a good idea whether or not life (any kind) is prevelant or not.

 

* Successfully used the phrase "whether conditions" in a sentence, won a 5 euro bet with imatfaal.

 

Congrats...Where are we going for lunch?

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Congrats...Where are we going for lunch?

 

Any reputable school of economics. We'll listen to a lecture as we eat our apples.

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Unless it's a very powerful transmission, aimed at us from relatively nearby, relatively recently we probably won't notice it, not even when we are looking/listening. Much depends on what technologies they - and we - use. Intelligent with advanced technology does not automatically lead to spacefaring. Having space capability does not automaticaly mean space colonising even within a solar system. Given the distances and difficulties, intersteller travel and colonising cannot be considered likely. Those that do attempt it may be a much rarer subset of intelligent races.

 

But if interstellar travel is achievable and if they are wise as well as intelligent - they may want to avoid notice by homo Sapiens and species like them. Surely any deliberate message we send out will - after careful consideration and composition - be misleading and deceptive; even if it's a case of accentuating the positive combined with lots of omissions - lying to ourselves as much as to them - we will probably start any dialogue with falsehoods. Not a good start.

Edited by Ken Fabian

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