Stephen Hawking warned recently that contact with an advanced extraterrestrial civilization could have dire consequences for the human species. Arthur C Clarke once made the famous observation that any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic. Following in their footsteps, world renowned experts from physicist Sir Martin Rees of Cambridge University to astrobiologist Paul Davis of Arizona State have asked if we were to encounter alien technology far superior to our own, would we even realize what it was. A technology a million or more years in advance of ours could appear miraculous.
In fact, Davies writes in his new book, Eeie Silence, that advanced technology might not even be made of matter. That it might have no fixed size or shape; have no well-defined boundaries. Is dynamical on all scales of space and time. Or, conversely, does not appear to do anything at all that we can discern. Does not consistr of discrete, seperate things; but rather it is a system,or a subtle higher-level corrrelation of things.
Are matter and information, Davies asks, all there is? Five hundred years ago, he writes, " the very concept of a device manipulating information, or software, would have been incomprehensible. Might there be a still higher level, as yet outside all human experience, that organizes electrons? If so, this "third level" would never be manifest through observations made at the informational level, still less at the matter level.
We should be open to the distinct possibility that advanced alien technology a billion years old may operate at the third, or perhaps even a fourth or fifth level -all of which are totally incomprehensible to the human mind at our current state of evolution in 2010.
Image credit: With special thanks to Jerry Taylor jrtce1's photostream on Flickr