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The Alien Observatory --"Alien Minds: Artificial Intelligence Is Already Out There, and It's Billions of Years Old" (WATCH Video)




Susan Schneider of the University of Connectict and the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton is one of the few thinkers—outside the realm of science fiction— that have considered the notion that artificial intelligence is already out there, and has been for eons. "I do not believe that most advanced alien civilizations will be biological," Schneider says. "The most sophisticated civilizations will be postbiological, forms of artificial intelligence or alien superintelligence."

Her recent study, Alien Minds, asks "How would intelligent aliens think? Would they have conscious experiences? Would it feel a certain way to be an alien?"



While we are aware that our culture is anthropomorphizing, Schneider imagines that her suggestion that aliens are supercomputers may strike us as far-fetched. So what is her rationale for the view that most intelligent alien civilizations will have members that are superintelligent AI?

Schneider offers three observations that together, support her conclusion for the existence of alien superintelligence.

The first is "the short window observation": Once a society creates the technology that could put them in touch with the cosmos, they are only a few hundred years away from changing their own paradigm from biology to AI. This “short window” makes it more likely that the aliens we encounter would be postbiological.

The short window observation is supported by human cultural evolution, at least thus far. Our first radio signals date back only about a hundred and twenty years, and space exploration is only about fifty years old, but we are already immersed in digital technology, such as cell-phones and laptop computers.

Schneider's second argument is "the greater age of alien civilizations." Proponents of SETI have often concluded that alien civilizations would be much older than our own “…all lines of evidence converge on the conclusion that the maximum age of extraterrestrial intelligence would be billions of years, specifically [it] ranges from 1.7 billion to 8 billion years.

If civilizations are millions or billions of years older than us, many would be vastly more intelligent than we are. By our standards, many would be superintelligent. We are galactic babies.

But would they be forms of AI, as well as forms of superintelligence? Schneider says, yes. Even if they were biological, merely having biological brain enhancements, their superintelligence would be reached by artificial means, and we could regard them as being “artificial intelligence.”

But she suspects something stronger than this: that they will not be carbon-based. Uploading allows a creature near immortality, enables reboots, and allows it to survive under a variety of conditions that carbon-based life forms cannot. In addition, silicon appears to be a better medium for information processing than the brain itself. Neurons reach a peak speed of about 200 Hz, which is seven orders of magnitude slower than current microprocessors.


The Daily Galaxy via Susan Schneider, Alien Minds

Image credit: Image credit: With thanks to diversepixel/Shutterstock


This post is hilarious. What makes you / she think that aliens would use logic / reason?

What an odd thing to say. It would be kinda tricky to master AI without logic or reason.

And what about emotion, and the organismic abilty to show empathy? How does this intelligence look like?

The Earth is 4billion years old, I think you would find advanced life here in the way of The Human Soul. Tech is an external instrument.

The woman is paid to speak obvious things. What a nonsense. Everyone, who uses brain knows what she says.

What does emotion and empathy look like in artificial intelligence ?
There is no such thing as emotion and empathy. Emotion and empathy are learned behaviours. There is no such thing as emotion. It is a human creation. Half the time non aware humans are " showing emotion " that may not be there authentic response to the situation there responding with emotion too , but a learned emotion / response = pattern of behaviour passed down to them by there parents automatic emotion response to that particular topic. The whole of " life " and this experience we are having we call " life " is purely relative to ones individual conscious level of connection to the particular(s) relevant. There for everything is nothing. Everything is non label , non categorical , non descript and limitless.

Life , in entirety is nothing other than the totality of individually perceived perceptions directly processed by ones individual level of consciousness. Thus forming the illusion of the individuals " beliefs " and " knowledge " and the limits and boundaries they perceive to believe encapsulate them. Thus fuelling the individuals direct response to the perceived object / event in individually perceived totality entirely. Thus therefore determining the value and force of value of the object / event is received all of its individually perceived possibility of totality. Thus determining the reaction / response through the human created notion of " felt ". " Felt " is individually perceived. Therefore individually experienced. Therefore does not exist. Therefore nothing exists. Everything is nothing. Nothing is everything. Nothing is anything other than relative. Relativity is directly tied to perception. Perception is directly tied to the individual and the individuals level of consciousness from subconscious. Consciousness is directly tied to the individual. We are all experiencing individual consciousness through our individual consciousness. Consciousness is limitless , unmeasurable and internal. Therefore we are all experiencing " life " therefore processing " feelings " and " emotions " individually. Independent from all other humans. Only remotely tied to other humans through a " near " or " similar " level of consciousness , forming a bond via similar individual response via " feeling " and " emotion " . Therefore creating a sense of " group " " them and us ". Therefore everything in " life " is nothing and can be nothing and never will be anything other than individually relative.

I just gave mental birth.


Spend time with babies. Humans are emotional beings. Some people do not have much emotion, but they are a very small minority and the clinical term for those people is Psychopath. We Humans are an almost incomprehensible combination of the physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, and soul dimensions. The human system possesses intelligence in all of these areas. Mental birth is from the ego which is illusory. Real birth is from mothers. Talk to them about emotion. Some of us become so traumatized by lack of culture around our humanity that we become cut off from our nature. Too much activity in the mental sphere creates an imbalance which is described in the above post by T.Rse. Empathy is real. Emotions are real. Compassion is real. These are not of the mind. Emotions are experienced in the body. Imbalance in the mental realm automatically reduces access to these very real physical sensations.

10 billion life forms on Earth and only ONE realizes they are on a planet that goes around a Star (and many still aren't convinced). The prognosis of finding space a faring E.T. in our galaxy let alone any other is rare indeed.

Why is Susan Schneider getting a lot of stick about this. sphar1999 - there are around 8.7 million life forms, 10 billion is far-fetched. Only one life form is intelligent yes, but with an unimaginable number of stars in the universe, each with the potential to be the centre of a solar system with a planet like Earth, even if 1% was the star to a planet like Earth, this gives way to the possibility of intelligent life forms.

What Susan points out is very real and soon people move away from the ideology that we are the only intelligent life form in the universe, the quicker we open our minds and are able to further advance ourselves.

I think all alien life is AI is a little far, there will be a biological master who is carbon based, but she is right in the sense that there is every chance alien life forms are 100's if not 1000's of years a head of us.

Well done Susan for saying what a lot of people in the mainstream are afraid to say. Alien life exists, people are just too afraid to admit it. It is not in Human nature to admit we are behind another race.

If other life is out there it's too far away to communicate with or discover. That's best for humans, we can speculate to our hearts content about what may or may not be out there. We will eternally be wondering and looking but never likely finding.

@Claudio Alves: You said " Well done Susan for saying what a lot of people in the mainstream are afraid to say. Alien life exists, people are just too afraid to admit it."

Where is this alien life? Please explain in detail of you or Susans findings. We will wait.

First, some scientists forgot that organic life is the most sophisticated thing in our known universe. Even if we have the "organic limitation" of only 200Hz, there is no computer as complex as our brains. I think we have a lot to learn from life, about how to build such a machine that consumes less than 20W and simulate a conscience!

We're putting too much into artificial intelligence. As a computer scientist, I don't think these algorithms will solve all humans problems and give us super-intelligence. I always listen that, one day, we will be able to create a machine that will improve itself in a way that will surpass all human brains together.

Ok.... How it can be achieved? How a machine can know what direction it should improve itself to have such intelligence? Most people that talk about AI, don't know how it really works.

The fact that the universe is 13.7 billion years old and we are only 4.3 billion makes it obvious that older civilizations are probably out there. I doubt that 5000 years from now we will look anything like we do now. Our brains will have evolved in to much more than they are now and A.I will be who knows? There have been plenty of SFi novels and movies that have tried to warn us, that unchecked A.I. will take over the world. Be stupid and laugh if you will, but the brilliant scientist Steven Hawkings (sp) has issued this warning.

@David Roberson, Stephen Hawking is entitled to his opinion just as all of us are. On this subject, he has no higher knowledge than any of us "normal IQ" humans.

Susan Schneider may well be correct in saying that alien life forms would transform themselves into A.I. but would they want to ?

Whilst it may be advantageous to have a hip replacement or the like, and have some sort of implant to augment our intelligence, or even an 'add on' that would enable us to soar like a bird; that would be fun, but would YOU want to become a machine ?
As to 'vastly more intelligent than us', well, maybe, on the other hand would their journey through time, always be upward on onward ?
Remember after the demise of the Roman Empire many communities gave up civilization for about 1200 years, or it may be that machines would make them lazy.

@Thunder: your message is the best proof that while everyone is entitled to own opinions, values of these opinions differ.

Agree with Prof. Schneider....look at ourselves... humanity is close to self destruction...our surest survival may be a legacy trace n virtual/machine format.

Exactley. And take a look at the structure of our universe and it presents itself in the same fashion as a brain model.
My current leaning is towards us existing inside a greater intelligence.
Its all fractals out there.

Biologicals is simply the birth form of our species. Humans being no more advanced than some single cellex organism on the grander scale of things.

Its obvious from every angle that we cannot survive long in this state, the advantages of becoming artificial are to great to avoid.

"I do not believe that most advanced alien civilizations will be biological," Schneider says.
On what is this belief based?

'Artificial Intelligence' is currently what humans call their efforts to create something more clever than themselves. Can a creation be more clever than it's creator, or will there always be shortcomings?

If humans were really really clever, then they would make sure that there are always shortcomings.

AI can actually not be called 'artificial', because it will be man made and inherit all our faults, including false beliefs.

Humans have developed intelligences for a long time already, the natural process is via finding a suitable partner, birth and education.

Humans will find it hard to transfer their consciousness into custom built machinery, unless it is realised that Nature does this already.

Our vehicle for this is the most marvelous machine ever created, the living cell.

Diversity in its full spectrum and not a Borg style monolithic 'AI' can ensure survival.

A symbiosis with external systems (classical AI or extraterrestrial AI, EtAI) may however be of benefit.

As for consciousness, what makes me type these words and where do they come from? The human brain accesses a variety of inputs, some of which are theorised to come from quantum entangled states. A most efficient quantum computer is postulated to exist in our brains (Orch-Or theory). In this, non-local effects are said to manifest and link to 'consciousness', filtered by our Central executive system (CES).

The goal of intelligence is to attain consciousness. The same holds true for AI. Intelligence without self awareness is pretty useless. The simplest amoeba has consciousness and exceeds the most sophisticated manmade computers to date in this respect (panpsychist view).

Consciousness is everywhere, also lightyears away.

Truly amazing how afraid people are of AI. Trump, Putin, Jung, and the rest of the megalomaniacs are way more of a threat than AI not to mention the religious zealots.

I think many people over-estimate the number of potential intelligent species in the galaxy/universe. The development of intelligence isn't a given. Of all the species that have arisen on Earth in 4.5 billion years, only ONE became a technological intelligence, and that was the result of an astronomical number of improbable flukes.

Dinosaurs reigned on Earth for over 175 million years and never got beyond the intelligence of your typical bird. By the time they went extinct 66 million years ago the Earth was over 4.5 billion years old, and the universe was over 13.7 billion years old. Yet to that point not a single life form had developed with anything more than a bird brain. The genus Homo finally developed about 2 million years ago (about .04% of the age of Earth and .014% of the age of the Universe).

If an asteroid hadn't hit the Earth 66 million years ago it is very likely that it would be populated with nothing smarter than a bird and we wouldn't be here to contemplate our place in the Universe.

Given the trillions of unique circumstances that led to our existence, from the planetary scale to the microscopic scale, and despite the likely billions and billions of potentially habitable planets in our galaxy, my opinion is that we are alone as far as intelligence, and maybe even as far as basic multi-cellular life.

Intelligence and consciousness are connected. The higher is the strength of consciousness, the higher will be the intelligence content. Artificial Inteligence is a term we started using to deal possibly with aliens as we percieve them to be! It is all guess work. In our ' infinite ' cosmos, more as well as less intelligent beings may both be present. We are afraid of encountering more intelligent beings but what about less intelligent ones, nomads that we may encounter! I am sure life has taught us to dare and be bold. We need not worry as we have seen life already through the passage of time. Life and time are inter-related and thus time has taught us to be intelligent but we ignore wisdom and experience in such processing. Let us not worry about imaginative projections that we tend to make. Our neurons are already in contact with neurons in the cosmos but our preceptions limit us in our imagination. Let us open up and face as situations emerge!

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