The Fermi Paradox #2 – Solutions And Ideas

fermi paradox space man walking awaySo what are the solutions and ideas to the Fermi Paradox? Will we be destroyed or does a great future await us? Let’s think about it a little shall we? We are alone … or are we?!

 Space travel is tough. Although possible, it’s a colossal challenge to travel to other stars. Massive quantities of materials have to be put into orbit and assembled. A journey of possibly thousands of years needs to be endured by population big enough to start from the bottom up. And the planet might not be as hospitable as it looks from far away. It was already quite hard to set up a spaceship that could survive the journey. And Interstellar invasion might be impossible to pull off.

Also, think about time, the universe is very old. On Earth, there’s been life for about 3,6 billion years. Intelligent human life for roughly 250,000 years. However only for about a century have we had the technology to communicate over vast distances. There might have been glorious alien empires that span over thousands of systems and existed for millions of years and we might just have missed them. There might be monumental ruins rotting away on far-off worlds.

99% of all species on Earth have perished.

It’s easy to dispute that this will be our fate eventually.

Intelligent life may develop, extend over a few systems and die off, over and over again. But galactic civilizations might not meet. So maybe it’s a unifying experience for life in the cosmos to look at the stars and wonder “Where is everybody?”. Still, there is no reason to expect aliens are like us, or that our logic implements to them. It might just be that our tools for communication are extremely undeveloped and outdated.
Imagine being in a house with a morse co-transmitter, you’d keep sending information but nobody would answer and you would feel kind of lonely, maybe we’re still insignificant for intelligent species and we’ll remain so until we learn to communicate correctly.

Even If we find aliens we might be too different to effectively communicate with them in a meaningful way. Imagine the smartest squirrel you can, no matter how tough you try, you won’t be able to describe our society to it. After all, from the squirrel’s viewpoint, a tree is all, that sophisticated intelligence like itself, demands to survive. So humans chopping down whole forests is just delusional, but we don’t annihilate forests because we hate squirrels. We just need the resources. The squirrel’s wishes and the squirrel’s survival are off no interest to us. A Type III civilization in need of goods may treat us in a similar way. They might just vaporize our oceans to make collecting whatever they need easier. One of the aliens might think for a moment “Hey look, tiny little apes! They build really adorable concrete structures, oh well, now they’re gone.”

Automation …

But if there is a civilization out there that wants to wipe out other species, it’s far more likely that it will be provoked by culture rather than by economics. And anyway it will be a lot more effective to automate the operation by constructing the perfect weapon, a self-duplicating space probe made from nano-machines. They work on a molecular level incredibly fast and noxious, with the power to attack and take apart anything in a flash. You only need to give them four instructions.

One: Find a planet with life.
Two: Disassemble everything on this planet into its component parts.
Three: Use the resources to build new space probes.
Four: Repeat the whole thing.

A doomsday machine like this could make a galaxy sterile in a few million years.

But why would you travel light years to gather resources or execute genocide?

The speed of light is actually … not so fast.

If someone could travel at the speed of light, it will still take around 100,000 years to cross the milky way once and you’ll possibly travel way slower. There might be way more amusing things than destroying civilizations and building empires.

An interesting concept is the Matrioshka Brain.

A mega-structure around a star, a computer of such computing capacity that an entire species could upload their consciousness and live in a simulated universe. Probably, one could experience an eternity of pure ecstasies without ever getting born or sad – the perfect life. If constructed around a red dwarf, this computer could be powered up for at least ten trillion years. Who would want to subdue the galaxy or make contact with other life forms, if this was a choice?

All these solutions to the Fermi Paradox bear one problem.

We don’t know where the boundaries of technology are. We could be approaching the limit or nowhere near it. And super technology awaits us, giving us immortality, transporting us to other galaxies, lifting us to the level of gods. One thing we do have to accept is that we really don’t know anything.

Humans have spent more than 90% of their existence as hunter-gatherers. 500 years ago we were still thinking that we were the center of the universe. 200 years ago we stopped using human labors as the general source of energy. 30 years ago we had apocalyptic weapons aimed at each other because of political arguments. In the galactic time scale we are embryos. We did come far, but we have a long way to go. The mindset that we truly are the center of the universe is still strong in humans, so it’s easy to make an arrogant hypothesis about life in the universe.

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