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"Darwin's Extraterrestrials" -- A New Theory for the 'Great Silence'


The Fermi paradox is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of evidence for, or contact with, such civilizations. As Enrico Fermi asked if the Universe is conducive to intelligent life, “Where is everybody?”

A new answer proposed by Adrian Kent of the University of Cambridge and Perimeter Institute, is that extraterrestial life sufficiently advanced to be capable of interstellar travel or communication must be rare, since otherwise we would have seen evidence of it by now. This in turn is sometimes taken as indirect evidence for the improbability of life evolving at all in our universe.

“Intelligent species might reasonably worry about the possible dangers of self-advertisement and hence incline towards discretion” -- the “Undetectability Conjecture,” put forth by Beatriz Gato-Rivera, a theoretical physicist at the Instituto de Fisica Fundamental (previously Instituto de Matematicas y Fisica Fundamental) of the CSIC (Spanish Scientific Research Council) in Madrid. According to Gato-Rivera, we may find ourselves in a universe in which there exist intelligent technological civilizations but they have chosen to be undetectable, camouflaging themselves mainly for security reasons (because advanced civilizations could also be aggressive).

“Evolutionary selection, acting on a cosmic scale," Kent adds. "tends to extinguish species which conspicuously advertise themselves and their habitats.”

“It often seems, Kent concludes, "to be implicitly assumed, and sometimes is explicitly argued, that colonising or otherwise exploiting the resources of other planets and other solar systems will solve our problems when the Earth’s resources can no longer sustain our consumption. It might perhaps be worth contemplating more seriously the possibility that there may be limits to the territory we can safely colonise and to the resources we can safely exploit, and to consider whether and how it might be possible to evolve towards a way of living that can be sustained (almost) indefinitely on the resources of (say) our solar system alone.”

In another take on the "Fermi Paradox," Stephen Hawking asks In his famous lecture on Life in the Universe: "What are the chances that we will encounter some alien form of life, as we explore the galaxy?"

If the argument about the time scale for the appearance of life on Earth is correct, Hawking says "there ought to be many other stars, whose planets have life on them. Some of these stellar systems could have formed 5 billion years before the Earth. So why is the galaxy not crawling with self-designing mechanical or biological life forms?"

Why hasn't the Earth been visited, and even colonized? Hawking asks. "I discount suggestions that UFO's contain beings from outer space. I think any visits by aliens, would be much more obvious, and probably also, much more unpleasant."

Hawking continues: "What is the explanation of why we have not been visited? One possibility is that the argument, about the appearance of life on Earth, is wrong. Maybe the probability of life spontaneously appearing is so low, that Earth is the only planet in the galaxy, or in the observable universe, in which it happened. Another possibility is that there was a reasonable probability of forming self reproducing systems, like cells, but that most of these forms of life did not evolve intelligence."

We are used to thinking of intelligent life, as an inevitable consequence of evolution, Hawking emphasized,  but it is more likely that evolution is a random process, with intelligence as only one of a large number of possible outcomes.

Intelligence, Hawking believes contrary to our human-centric existece, may not have any long-term survival value. In comparison the microbial world, will live on, even if all other life on Earth is wiped out by our actions. Hawking's main insight is that intelligence was an unlikely development for life on Earth, from the chronology of evolution:  "It took a very long time, two and a half billion years, to go from single cells to multi-cell beings, which are a necessary precursor to intelligence. This is a good fraction of the total time available, before the Sun blows up. So it would be consistent with the hypothesis, that the probability for life to develop intelligence, is low. In this case, we might expect to find many other life forms in the galaxy, but we are unlikely to find intelligent life."

Another possibility is that there is a reasonable probability for life to form, and to evolve to intelligent beings, but at some point in their technological  development "the system becomes unstable, and the intelligent life destroys itself. This would be a very pessimistic conclusion. I very much hope it isn't true."

Hawkling prefers another possibility: that there are other forms of intelligent life out there, but that we have been overlooked. If we should pick up signals from alien civilizations, Hawking warns,"we should have to be wary of answering back, until we have evolved" a bit further. Meeting a more advanced civilization, at our present stage, Hawking says, "might be a bit like the original inhabitants of America meeting Columbus. I don't think they were better off for it."

Casey Kazan.

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Ok so, here's a thought.
So maybe we are too human centric to think that intelligence has any evolutionary value...
Then again in our solar system intelligence needed 4 billion years to appear. Isn't it again too human centric to think that this is the amount of time needed everywhere in the universe for intelligence to appear? It may well need half of that or double that or any other period of time...

Finally, intelligence may well evolve to machine only existence, from biological life, to cyborgs, to totally artificial and non biological life and then it would be much easier to explore the universe... and also quite "stealthy".

But then again what do I know? :o)

What the hell does everybody quoted mean by "intelligence"? Does it necessarily mean the ability and desire to creaet iPods, skyscrapers, and rockets to the moon? Is the reason that dolphins don't do any of that just that they aren't intelligent enough? Even if it is, isn't it possible that intelligence could take a species in directions that don't involve colonizing other planets or even giving a hoot whether somebody lives on them? We have Buddhist monks. We have primitive tribes that know about the outside world, but prefer to do their own thing. Maybe when the rest of us kill each other off, they'll be the species. And then ET, who is perfectly happy paddling around the oceans of Europa, will be safe.

Hawking is wildly paranoid. The sheer scale of building interstellar ships requires cooperation on a planetary scale. And it is doubtful that cooperation of that kind could be maintained by a warring, pillaging, morally-corrupt civilization.

I don't think we have the technical ability to recieve alien transmissions,we are looking for radio waves. Radio signals are ok for communication on earth and in the inner solar system but beyond that it is too slow and gets too weak at interstellar distances. As far as intelligent life taking 4 billion years to evolve on earth doesn't make it so everywhere. One must take into consideration things that may have slowed it's progress here on earth. For intance the extinctions and the snowball earth scenareo,when almost all life was wiped out and had to start over. And any solar system probably has enough resources that could be used by any intelligent beings living in it,going as far as another star system would not make sense.

What if a Mayan had wondered 'If there is anyone else in the world we would have seen it by now -where is everybody?' For whatever reason, Mayans were "out of synch" and missed contact with the Western World, and viceversa. This did not mean the Europeans didn't exist, only that they took a while - too long, in fact - to make their move. Which was an accidental discovery, by the way. So much for the Fermi paradox.

All life in our Universe is based on hard competition in order for Nature to accelerate evolution, thus providing (bio)diversity, quality, and quantities of civilizations. The intelligent races in space can compete, cooperate, and progress successfully only if they are at about the same level of development. The later-emerging civilizations could hardly survive real competition with sentient beings which are millions of years ahead of them.
If we assume that for some reason the space civilizations in our Universe started at about the same time, we get a very elegant resolution to the Fermi paradox: the Universe is teeming with living beings, but being at almost the same level of development, most of the numerous intelligent races still haven't contacted or haven't found evidence of existence of other advanced creatures. They, just like humans, are making their first steps into deep space. The leading intelligences already travel across the neighborhood of their star system, but they are facing a lot of problems: financial, biological, technological, and so on, limiting their space expansion activities.
What could be the reason for such an equal start of intelligence?
The equal start hypothesis supposes a factor or factors providing such an equal start. It could be something that “forbids” the emergence of sophisticated life before a certain point in time, like frequent gamma-ray explosions or/and other devastating events on a universal scale.
But there is also a more complex explanation. There are clues and evidence that life in our Universe is orchestrated.
The developing universes inherit from previous universes a vector, from Latin vector, “carrier”: a natural structure and mechanism which organizes all living and non-living structures in the cosmos. The vector is a vehicle for new universes to receive characteristics and models of development from preceding universes. The previous evolutions, which happened billions and billions of times, left evolutionary patterns in the vector; the development of the humans before us is written in our genome.
Our genes make us. The vector makes the Universe, life, and us.
The vector and our space-time are one inseparable entity, just like humans and their genes are inseparable.
The Universe is developing strictly to a model written in the vector. Humans are developing strictly to a blueprint written in their genome.
The key question here is: why don't they—superior mega intelligences from previous evolutionary cycles of our Universe, from other universes, from the supposed other dimensions, or from wherever they are hiding contact us officially?
Mega intelligence (mega civilizations) is a term describing mature intelligences who manage to abandon their dying home universes. The sentient species inhabiting our Universe, including humans (if they survive), should also leave it—if they want to make it.
The mega civilizations are furtively guiding us, together with the vector, in a highly clandestine manner, revealing their presence to us through mythology, religions, parapsychological manifestations, etc. Their goal is: numerous intelligent species, developing as fast as possible.... extract from The Hidden Alpha by Alexander Popoff

Why do we persist with conventional thinking when the universe is anything but conventional. Conventional thinking is fine when you confine your thought process to earthly ideas, but it will not get it done when you want to give thought about what is and what might be in the universe.

I dont think we are alone in the universe. But... what if we are alone shouldnt that make us think how important life really is. On this planet life was able to grow and evolve into what we have become.
If we are not extremely care full we could distroy the only form of life ever formed.

If ants try detecting us by our pheromone trails..... then they have a long wait. Maybe the same with us tryng to look for aliens by their radio waves!

Consider the Prime Directive, a la Star Trek? A good case in point are recent discoveries of lost tribes in the Amazon. We fear to even bother them now that we understand the destructiveness of our own advanced culture imposing on their way of life.

Maybe we're sequestered safely in a wildlife refuge of sorts with a seldom disturbed "no fly zone?"

With all due respect to Professor Hawking, a man who I have enormous respect and admiration for, why is he being treated in this article like the foremost authority on the chances of intelligence evolving elsewhere in our galaxy? Professor Hawking is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, not an evolutionary biologist. Why would he know what the chances of intelligent life evolving are, that's not his field of science.

While I have no doubt whatsoever that he is an incredibly intelligent Human being ((One of the top five most intelligent alive today most likely)), should this area of discussion be left up to someone who has studied the field in depth?

No, I find it much more likely that we are either not looking in the right way and we've just missed them, if they do know about us they are trying to keep themselves separated from us until we're ready to meet them on our own terms, or they are trying to avoid contact because they're afraid.

The lack of communications could be as simple as after a hundred years or so most civilizations become hard wired instead of using radio waves. A much more efficient method of communication. Virtually all radio broad cast either can't get out of the atmosphere or out of the solar energy boundary. If they could astronauts on the space station would use cell phones!

Also, in the entire time we've been listening is about a hundred years.The galaxy is one thing, the universe is a horse of a different color.
The average lifespan of long term civilizations on earth is only about a thousand years, give or take.
Our galaxy is two hundred thousand years across.

Add to all this that for 80% of the time life has been on earth is was basically - slime -.

Not to mention the sterilization of huge near galaxy size areas by super novas.

It would be a surprise if we ever discovered intelligent life anywhere.

I wonder if the reason we haven't been visited might be because stars are really, really, really far apart and organic beings tend to have finite lifespans?

Just because we imagine that technology can overcome every obstacle does not mean that it actually will do so.

I'll attempt to stick to the less widely known challenge rather that the well known "blow ourselves up" and "freedom to question".

How do you get from mainly wooden windmills to a space faring without fossil fuels while balancing a growing population?  We have yet to figure out how to run the world renewably even with the fossil fuel jumpstart.  Take nothing for granted, even by what is rationally an energy abundant world.

Related to this, as a fan of wood, what if you had intelligence but no wood?  Take nothing for granted, even wood and fire.

What if you had all these things but could not see the stars?  A world of plenty of energy but under the ocean, a blurry sky, or a too well lit.  No dreams, math, or myths from the stars.  Take nothing for granted, even a clear night sky.

We've come a long way is a brief instant but do not take for granted that it was anything but rare or it will easily continue.

I'll attempt to stick to the less widely known challenge rather that the well known "blow ourselves up" and "freedom to question".

How do you get from mainly wooden windmills to a space faring without fossil fuels while balancing a growing population?  We have yet to figure out how to run the world renewably even with the fossil fuel jumpstart.  Take nothing for granted, even by what is rationally an energy abundant world.

Related to this, as a fan of wood, what if you had intelligence but no wood?  Take nothing for granted, even wood and fire.

What if you had all these things but could not see the stars?  A world of plenty of energy but under the ocean, a blurry sky, or a too well lit.  No dreams, math, or myths from the stars.  Take nothing for granted, even a clear night sky.

We've come a long way is a brief instant but do not take for granted that it was anything but rare or it will easily continue.

Where are the other intelligent beings? In a galaxy far, far away, fighting the droids.

Knowing that evolution is a big part of the roll of intelligence and it seems random enough that all it is taking advantage of what you can for survival. Since we evolved from organic life rather then computer-based, it seems that we are the computers learning in reality and are apart of the computerized universes of life that probably wants to understand what makes us come to the conclusions that we do and how we interpret life from our understanding of evolution. I would love to learn all about the past generations of intelligence and how they came to their conclusions! I could very well be content with that!

I think the Daily Galaxy likes posting Hawking's homo-stupendous views on ETs because they know that it'll cause a lot of commenters to respond.

I too really respect Hawking's astrophysics, and a good friend of mine who spent time with him really appreciates his views on black holes and how they relate to the human psyche.

But for the sake of humanities evolution and awakening into homo-universalis can you please just say No to Hawkins anthropomorphizing of higher consciousness. Enough of his cosmic soap opera already!

Why we can't detect alien radio signals or leakage (called also the Great Silence) is a secondary question, not the main one.

Pondering the Fermi paradox, the true question is why they don’t roam the Galaxy and why they haven't arrived on Earth, because for advanced civilizations, which are millions of years ahead of us, there wouldn't be any technological problem to travel across space.

The proposed hypotheses suppose that intelligent species are emerging at a constant rate, which seems quite reasonable, because there are billions of stars much older than our Sun, and they could have Earth-like planets able to sustain life.

The scale of competition is going up. In the early days of humans it was between the tribes, now it's between the states, tomorrow it goes into the space between the civilizations inhabiting the Universe.

The ideas of fast development and fitness are central to evolutionary biology. The hard competition between the civilizations in the Universe is among the major factors which guarantee numerous cosmic offspring of high quality for the shortest possible time period.

We should never forget that the cosmic evolution produced mega civilizations during the passing eons and cycles of our Universe and they are key factor in describing the evolving universes and space civilizations.

The speed of evolution should be defined very well.
If the competition is too hard, the death rate as a result of rivalry (wars, crime, all sorts of accidents, jealousy, and so on) becomes too high and the development eventually slows down—human, industrial, financial, infrastructural, and other losses are turning into stopping factors; people are becoming highly demotivated. This is especially important when intelligent species develop self-destructing technologies like nuclear, chemical, biological, and other weapons of mass destruction; devastation and havoc could be so huge that such civilizations might not recover in a reasonable period of time; they would be assimilated or destroyed by their competitors.

If the level of competition is too low, then the frequency of death within a given population as a consequence of the competition is significantly reduced, and people enjoy a comfortable life, however the rate of development would be insufficient, and such civilizations might not survive rivalry.

The refusal to compete and evolve means certain death to any civilization.

But why don't the almighty mega civilizations show up?

If the mighty megacivilizations show up, we would ask them to stop the wars, which would actually reduce the level of competition.

If the superior megacivilizations show up, we would ask them also to prolong our lives. They have the know-how: humans could live 10,000 years or longer in perfect health—no cancer, no heart attacks…there are thousands of life-threatening diseases. But on the other hand, poor health, numerous illnesses, and short life expectancy are mighty stimuli for humans to develop medicine, science, and technology which in turn accelerate evolution. There are also other similar reasons why they don't visit in an open manner civilizations like ours.

Still THE BEST counter to the Fermi paradox is still the Zoo Hypothesis!!

Perhaps, we are created beings instead of the sheer randomness that hawking suggests.

This is interesting but it is untethered speculation.

It also ignores all of the very good evidence that the earth has been and is visited all the time by ETs.

The Starchild skull, the evidence of human and other species DNA evolution, sightings, deeply classified reports of sightings, etc.

One thing though its obvious that SETI is looking for signs of ET civilization in the wrong place.

We learn that most of the world's smartest people believe there is no evidence of God. Therefore, there is no god.

There is no evidence of life everywhere, either, intelligent or otherwise except debatably on earth as to intelligence. So, say the WSP, it must be that the intelligent life elsewhere is too intelligent to leave many clues, unlike God, who does not exist because there are not enough clues.

If you are among the world's smartest scientific people as self defined by science, to resolve a self-created conundrum you call it The Fermi Paradox, and spend other people's borrowed money on an unintelligent, desperate search.

Like God, they'll find us if they want to. It's a matter of faith, after all.

The exponential technological increases demonstrate by Moore's Law introduce another possibility I've explored in a paper ( ), namely that species that become advanced enough for interstellar travel (and face resource pressure to need it) may "quickly" (on cosmic time scales -- e.g. hundreds of years) solve their resource problem by becoming more advanced and no longer needing physical bodies and physical resources. That is to say, directing their evolution into becoming "transhuman" (for whatever species they are) and e.g. becoming the equivalent of digital or otherwise non-physical entities. If they "left our physical universe" as it were, they wouldn't be around here to visit us.

Wow, that is one incredible image!

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