The SETI project – Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence – has been in existence in one form or another for several decades, dating back to Frank Drake’s first SETI experiment named Project Ozma. SETI is basically the search for intelligence through listening for radio waves of another civilization. For Drake back in the 1960’s, this was no doubt the sign of a technologically prevalent society, and the smartest means to search for life.
However, one can only look at that decision and see it as a mistake. At least, that is what some scientists and others connected to the field of extra-terrestrial search feel, such as George Dvorsky, who serves on the Board of Directors for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Recent insights in such fields as cosmology, astrobiology have changed our perception of the cosmos and the ways in which advanced life might develop.
The Drake Equation does not take into consideration such factors as the age of the Galaxy, when intelligence first emerged, or the presence of physiochemical variables such as the presence of metals necessary for the presence of life and the formation of planets. The equation, Dvorsky emphasizes, assumes "a sort of cosmological uniformity rather than a dynamic and ever changing universe."
The equation asks us to guess the number of Earth-like planets, but it does not ask us to estimate when Earth-like planets -intelligence itself may have been present as long as 2 to 4.5 billion years ago.
The Galaxy’s extreme age and the potential for intelligence, which may have been present as long as 2 to 4.5 billion years ago, to have emerged at disparate points in time leaves an absurdly narrow window for detecting radio signals.
The Drake Equation, Dvorsky believes, does not tell us about exponential civilizational growth on account of Von Neumann probe disbursement. "It does not tell us where advanced ETI’s may be dwelling or what they’re up to (are they outside the Galaxy? Do they live inside Jupiter Brains? Do they phase shift outside of what we regard as habitable space? ). This is a serious shortcoming because the answers to these questions should help us determine not just where we should be looking, but they can also provide us with insight as to the makeup of advanced intelligence life and our own potential trajectory."
In other words, Dvorsky concludes, post-Singularity machine-based intelligence may represent the most common mode of existence for late-stage civilizations. And that’s who we should be looking for rather than radio transmitting civilizations.
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