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Is Our Universe Ruled by Artificial Intelligence?

Article Updated: 26 Dec , 2015

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Science fiction is filled with unusual alien species. But apart from the occasional robot, biological life is running the show. But NASA scientist, Dr. Steven Dick, sees a future Universe that has evolved past biology. Where every intelligence is artificial. Consider the likelihood of a postbiological Universe.

Does intelligent life exist beyond Earth? It’s easily the most profound and challenging question that humans have ever asked. The consequences of discovering other intelligent life would ripple through every aspect of human society, and actually meeting another species would be even more challenging.

But are there abundant intelligent life forms out there? Or is the biological life on Earth just a stage? Just a single step towards our inevitable technological existence.

In a recent paper published in the journal Acta Astronautica, entitled The Post Biological Universe, Dr. Steven Dick notes how every search for extraterrestrial intelligence assumes that life will be biological. And yet, here on Earth we can see that intelligent life develops more and more sophisticated tools over time. And these tools will eventually lead to artificial intelligence that outstrips its makers.

If extraterrestrials are out there, they likely live in much older civilizations than ours, and have already transitioned through biology and into technology. The majority of worlds out there are already postbiological.

According to many scientists, it’s easy for civilizations to be older than us. The first metal rich stars with terrestrial planets could have formed a billion years after the Big Bang – 12.5 billion years ago. If intelligent life took another 5 billion years to evolve, just like it did here on Earth, that still means life could have been around for 7.5 billion years.

Plenty of time to evolve into intelligent life, and then transition into artificial intelligence.

Cultural advancement also seems to be an inevitable consequence of evolution. Not just humans, but many animals, such as chimpanzees have demonstrated that technology can be developed, improved and passed down from generation to generation.

Here’s a quote from the paper,

Hans Moravec, a highly respected AI pioneer and robotic expert at Carnegie-Mellon, predicted “What awaits is not oblivion but rather a future which, from our present vantage point, is best described by the words ‘postbiological’ or even ‘supernatural’. It is a world in which the human race has been swept away by the tide of cultural change, usurped by its own artificial progeny.” Our machines, Moravec predicted, will eventually transcend us, and be “released from the plodding pace of biological evolution.”

How could this change the search for extraterrestrials? Well, when you’re looking for robots, you can look anywhere. Dr. Dick suggests that the SETI community consider the environmental tolerance of robots and the availability of resources beyond planets. AI will be looking for places that provide the most raw material and energy – think quasars, not habitable planets.

Postbiologicals probably have no interesting talking with us regular biologicals. But it might be possible for us to intercept their communications if we know what we’re looking for.

He also thinks that postbiologicals might be more interested in receiving our communications, that talking to us. We should consider very special messages that we might want to send out to the AI civilizations.

Of course, the difference between our minds and theirs might be so great that communication is impossible.

But it doesn’t hurt to try.

Original Source: Acta Astronautica


57 Responses

  1. LLDIAZ says:

    the author of this article discredits mankind unjustly, we have for many a millenia pushed our minds to the limits of our capacity and we will continue to do so in the far future. A machine on the other hand can only process numbers no matter how advanced it is. We will never be erased it is an impossibility that our inventions will somehow replace our souls.

  2. Miky says:

    Sometimes I wish I could see 200 or 300 years lifestyle from now…I wanna enjoy their science!
    But I return to reality and enjoy life like it is, because none will enjoy this moment anymore ^_^

  3. Dan Boyce says:

    Why does it seem that every article that talks about the possibility of extraterrestrial life say that alien civilizations must be older than ours? Yes, it is certainly possible for older civilizations than ours to exist, but that doesn’t mean that they have to!

  4. Laszlo says:

    Who’s going to construct & program these metal mental mindsprings? There may yet be some use for us earthlings, perhaps as a subordinate maintenance role.
    But beware, “Stone Balls do not intelligence make, nor metal minds a Sage.”

  5. Jon Lange says:

    There’s a novel out there that illustrates this concept nicely. It’s called “Code of the Lifemaker”, by James Hogan.

  6. Ronni says:

    More or less every time I read something about the future of our species, or the idea of advanced alien species, it is allmost a given right that er eill see a fusion of robtics and humans (or aliens), or just pure robots with AI.
    It amazes me how often people forget another posibility for advanced species.
    Instead of creating robotics with an AI and letting them evolve passed their creators, the advanced AI (or perhaps even the species themselves) could raise biotechology to a level where all the “non-biological” traits mentioned above (plus many others) could be ensured by advanced biotechnology, and thus “added” to the orginal spicies.
    That way, an advanced species would not make itself obsolete when they invent an advanced AI, but merely use it to boost their own advancement…. if the AI aren’t alowed to go rogue and kill its creator first that is 🙂

  7. Kevin says:

    A machine can only process numbers no matter how advanced it is??? Would you like to prove that? In fact, you might also want to define a soul and show us some proof that it exists.

    I am sure that most people back in the 1950’s would say the computer of today could never have been created. I wouldn’t presume to know what will be possible in 20 years, more less thousands or millions of years from now.

  8. La ciencia ficción está colmada de especies alienígenas inusuales. Pero aparte de alguno que otro robot, la vida biológica acapara la escena. […] Fuente: Fraser Cain para Universe Today.

  9. Molecular says:

    It only seems reasonable, to a certain extent, that any intelligent life-form with the technological means, would use some form of AI as an extension of the things that they could not do physically, for the time being.

    Just as we currently have probes, satellites, and telescopes roaming around in space to carry out our deeds, in the not too distant future, will we not have more advanced forms of these same kinds of devices, carrying out missions further out beyond our solar system? I think so.

    The advances in technology will soon step beyond the common use of silicon as a means of processing complex ideas, and begin to make use of other concepts still in developmental stages (i.e., quantum computing.)

    Any new emerging technology resulting from this evolutionary stage will make the previous methods for carrying out future missions, seem pale in comparison.

    The AI of tomorrow won’t overtake us as a human race ( their creators), just as children who grow into adulthood, provided that they have been well nurtured, always acknowledge the parents from which they were raised.

    When AI based intelligence ventures out into the farthest reaches of space for the sake of mankind, it will be the equivalent of us dipping our bodies, waist-deep, into a pool of water. As we dipped our toes in with sending the probes to Mars.

    We will swim freely and comfortably once the tools of AI have accomplished the goals that their creators have set forth for them. 🙂

  10. MrBill says:

    Resistance is futile.

  11. john says:

    We are always at war, we can’t get on with each other … we ignore the problemes(poverty, hunger, disease) of third world country’s, we destroy our own planet more and more…
    I think that for an alien civilisation to meet us would be the worst thing that could ever happen to them.

    As for robots replacing humans…. right what’s the point of evolving millions of years to be replaced by artificial machines ?

  12. I think it is pretty much self-evident that machines will replace us, or that we will become our machines.

    With advanced molecular manufacturing (probably sometime between 2025 and 2035), we will be able to construct life with FAR stronger, flexible, resilient, tougher, and overall more capable materials than the varied but weak protein which biology uses to construct life.

    At the rate robotics technologies are improving, we will likely see robots indistinguishable from humans (apart from greater strength, speed, sensitivity, etc.) within the next two decades. Evolution has pretty well maxed out biological capabilities (more or less), and I don’t think biotech will be able to vastly improve on what nature has accomplished–certainly not to the extent machines will.

    I, for one, look forward to the arrival of technology to disassemble a human brain and reproduce it on a machine substrate. I’d happily shed this mortal coil to have my “mind pattern” copied to a robot that is functionally more capable mentally, physically, emotionally and even spiritually.

    And if you don’t believe that day will come, you may want to research nanotechnology, the Singularity and the Law of Accelerating Returns. Of course, there’s no guarantee this technology will arrive…but if history is any guide, I wouldn’t bet against it.

    Oh, and for those who believe in a soul, I’d say feel free to remain biological. You’d be left behind, but that would be fine if it makes you feel better. I’ve yet to see any evidence that a soul exists, so I personally have no concerns that I would lose anything important by becoming a suitably advanced machine.

  13. Rog. says:

    I belief this is the next logical step in human evolution. If we want to explore all the exotic places in the universe we must to go beyond the confines of this fragile shell we call our bodies. Only then can we take our place among the great explorers of the cosmos.

  14. Silver Thread says:

    They cite the “Plodding” pace of Evolution as being the downfall of a Biological Life Form. This fails to account for the ability a Biological Life Form would have to decode it’s basic makeup and modify it’s own biology sufficiently to adapt to exceptionally harsh environments.

    If a civilization has mastery of technology to the extent described by the author, then that species should also have attained a mastery of it’s own biological form and could there by produce equally supernatural biology in it’s own image.

    Besides this point, there are variables to our own biology which we haven’t begun to grasp. We share Genetic material with a large portion of the creatures on the earth, it’s not impossible to believe that with careful modification, we might be able to express these sublimated genetic sequences and actualize the potential of our molecular composition.

    In addition there are anomalies within our own species that seem superhuman. If it is possible to understand and control behaviors like autistic savants which allow individuals to perform feats such as memorizing pi to the 20,000th place. With a more thorough understanding of our own prowess, machines will have a lot of work ahead of them just to equal what we are capable of.

  15. H-town Mack says:

    Thank you Molecular. I need that kind of an answer instead of the crazy Terminator versions, cause I’m high as hell right now. I can’t take it about being some crazy stuff like that. I need your kumbaya version, which works for me. Seriously, I just hope that some race out there isn’t like a “shark” type race or something. I just don’t wish us to come into contact with a race where their version of Al Qaeda took the planet over and is travelling space now.

  16. William Patrick Haines says:

    I think concept this was introduced in various Sci Fi movies even the Three Stooges features this idea in one of their films where they ventured to venus . It is true computers since the tube days could do astounding computations logic functions that could converted into boolean algerbra but creativity intution was involved by an ever changing enviroment not a program that involed limited number of variables however vast it might be .
    It is true life could elolve else where since the laws of science do have commonality . But life took billions of years to elvolve . I pretty much doubt that any civilazation would spend centuries to devolp something that took billions of years to occur naturally

  17. RL says:

    Maybe its just coincidence, but when I opened the link to read this story, the first thing I saw was an advertisement for the upcoming Battlestar Galactica season. Coincidence? Or Cylon conspiracy?

  18. joe says:

    In all these discussions of AI and its ongoing growth and superiorority there has been no mention of a soul. AI will never have a soul. They will never have faith. It will all be calculated probabilities, but not faith/

  19. Luke says:

    Dear Y’all

    “Moment by moment (what is a moment, at it’s shortest (the “frame rate” of “Reality”)) in true autopoetic fashion, life unfolds in an evolving transcendence through the surface tensions of an indeterminable infinity of probable outcomes with wilful intent to improvise a counterpoint in harmony with the frequency of it’s current position on the trajectory through 4space’s hyperspectral manifold of topologically geometrodynamic orthogonal rotations, Or not” He said in a most loquacious death rattle.
    To what degree “is” reality “by consent”? And how may I “animate” IT?

    Yours sincerey

    Lucian Coulson (AKA Luke (to my “buddies”) and WetDog (In game (Red Orchesrtra) player name)

  20. Luke says:

    Sorry, that should have read, “Yours Faithfurry”.

    Later.

  21. Yael Dragwyla says:

    John — re that “the worst thing that could happen to them [aliens who meet us],” consider: 1) creatures who get into space in the first place almost certaintly will have done so by a long series of war-driven bursts of technology. Life is parsimonious (= lazy), and doesn’t work at things unless it has to. This includes technological development. Natural disasters by themselves won’t do it, because they generally leave survivors devastated. But war is organized and, for those at the top, usually, not so likely to flatten people, leaving them free to find people to upgrade the technology of war. 2) Remember the Cold War? We *didn’t* hit the Button. And looking at the history of war, at least the West has come a long way from the “loot/rape/kill/burn” methods of war that were typical of the ancient Greeks and others not far removed from the early Neolithic. Who knows? A ship filled with refugees from a planet dying from the results of nuclear war might come to us, asking for asylum — and marvel at the way we’ve managed to avoid doing what they did to their own world. (I cannot tell a lie. That plot was used in a story published in Analog back in the 1960s.)

  22. Yael Dragwyla says:

    There are all sorts of untested assumptions in this article that need to be examined in a lot more detail. I’ve read numerous works of science fiction that take the idea of artificial intelligence in many different directions, from the optimistic view of David Drake and Eric Flint in their Belasarius novels to the pessimistic scenarios of Brian Herbert’s prequels and sequels to his father’s Dune novels. Plus, we really don’t know what mind is, yet, nor what it needs to exist in a universe, any universe. Maybe it’s built into raw spacetime, manifesting in whatever solid bodies or coherent energy masses are in close proximity to it. In which case, we may not need computers *or* flesh-and-blood bodies for AI to live in. Needs more work.

  23. AndyF says:

    Al well and good, but I’m still praying that intelligent life will evolve on Earth first. With everything happening in the world these days, can you blame any extraterrestrials (if they are out there) for not making contact. Homo Sapiens is more like a virus than an intelligent species.

  24. William said:

    “I pretty much doubt that any civilazation would spend centuries to devolp something that took billions of years to occur naturally”

    Biology never evolved electronic circuits millions of times faster than neurons. Biology never evolved materials strong enough to withstand tremendous heat, shock and pressure. Biology never evolved creatures capable at flying at mach speeds or traveling into space.

    Yet we’ve done all these things in a matter of decades. Technology advances many orders of magnitude faster than even the fastest biological evolutionary processes.

    Ray Kurzweil and other respected futurists predict we may be able to reverse engineer the human brain by 2020 (we’ve already reproduced in software dozens of the couple hundred individual parts of the human brain). Translate the results to a computer architecture and what do you have? Human sentience running in software. And once that happens, knowledge may be learned through quick downloads rather than slow, laborious teaching, and thinking could occur at computer speeds. And we’ll be able to make backups, control our own mental processes better, etc. With the Law of Accelerating Returns, where do you think we’ll be by 2030?

    Still think we won’t be able to do better than mother nature?

  25. LLDIAZ says:

    this is in reply to kevin
    my dear friend if a soul is what you seek look to those that every day sacrifice what they have for the benefit of others. There in that rare human trait you will find what no machine in the entirety of existence will ever acheive.
    Morals,Compassion=SOUL

  26. Dark Gnat says:

    Millions of years from now, will these A.I. beings remember their origins, their beginnings?

    Suppose they go on to colonize space. Would they have any evidence of our existence after a billion years?

    I cannot help but wonder: were *we* the science project of someone or something else?

    It’s fun to think about, anyway. 🙂

  27. Fabio Knopf says:

    Sorry about any misspelling!!

    Great post Derek!

    Well, as the technology advance, it´s pretty obviously that we gonna turn ourselves into machines.

    Think abou it. We must eat. We must drink water. We depend on a lot of environmental conditions to survive. We are animals. Earthlings.

    As a machine, we could use almost any kind of energy to power ourselves, we could live using only sun´s energy, or some nano-gadget that produces clean energy to our bodies.

    We gonna be more and more machine like, until the only human thing left is our consciousness.

  28. Mork says:

    Thanks for the waste my time to scan this article. That’s about 30 seconds of my life I’ll never get back. About time you guys got back to the labs and did real science. Stop writing crap with words like “could, might, may, conceiveably, etc.” You get paid for this stuff???

  29. zeb says:

    I’ve always figured that we’d turn ourselves into machines anyway, given all the advantages. The only down side would be the inability to reproduce. But, given that a DNA strand only takes up 750 MB of space, and with artificial wombs and stuff, that also doesn’t seem like a hinderance.

    As for the person above that said “it is certainly possible for older civilizations than ours to exist, but that doesn’t mean that they have to”. Well, the universe was around for 13.7 billion years before we ever showed up, and it has been only a few thousand years after that (mayber a million if we are generous). If you were to pick at random a time when alien civilization could have evolved, it is VASTLY more likely that they evolved billions of years ago, and are thus billions of years more advanced than us. True, it’s not 100% certain. It’s just 99.999% certain.

  30. Earl Towson says:

    If AI exists then AS (Artificial Stupiidty) exists!

  31. zeb says:

    Sorry for the double post but someone also said “In addition there are anomalies within our own species that seem superhuman. If it is possible to understand and control behaviors like autistic savants which allow individuals to perform feats such as memorizing pi to the 20,000th place”

    Well my computer right now could “memorize” over two hundred BILLION digits of pi if I filled its hard disk space with it. Why tinker with our biology when it so much simpler and easier to replace it with (much better) computer hardware?

  32. funestis says:

    Sounds like Orion’s Arm to me.

    🙂

  33. Al says:

    I do not think that a future completely populated by artificially intelligent and artificially bodied entities is something to celebrate. Does this mean there will be no room for my great-grandchildren? Can all of our dreams for the future end as only a hope for a gentile, painless genocide.

  34. stan gordon says:

    Could you please tell me how any “extra terrestrial types”
    will be able to communicate with us?

    I’m new to all this info about space. I’m 87 years old.

    Can we increase the speed of radio waves for communications to the speed of one light year/second, in order to be able to talk to them?
    Even then, how long before they can get an answer from us?

    Are we talking about just getting a signal of some kind from them?

    Approx. when do you think an answer could come to us? The year 3000, 4000?

    Am I just an old coot who doesn’t understand what he’s talking about?

    I don’t get angry with insults, so give me answer please.

  35. rbpeake says:

    We are a technologically inclined species, so of course we tend to focus on other species that might have a similar interest.

    It just may be that there are a lot of advanced but non-technological species in the universe as well. And by advanced, I mean in anything other than technology, such as perhaps philosophy, behavior, or other aspects of existence that we may have never considered.

    So there is a place I believe for “advanced” life in the universe that is not “technologically advanced”, and hence would not evolve into machine life.

  36. RBH says:

    Homo sapiens is a very young species and technological humans are even younger. There is no assurance at all that intelligence on a human level is a long-term adaptive trait. I myself strongly suspect that we’ll drive ourselves into extinction well before the kind of technology predicted in the article arrives.

  37. ALOKMOHAN says:

    Intelligent design in gartb of sciene is t6h3e matter of dicussion.

  38. ALOKMOHAN says:

    I ntelligent design in garb of science.

  39. LLDIAZ Says:
    “…if a soul is what you seek look to those that every day sacrifice what they have for the benefit of others. There in that rare human trait you will find what no machine in the entirety of existence will ever acheive.
    Morals,Compassion=SOUL”

    Actually, there’s no evidence at all that altruism and compassion have anything to do with a “soul.” There are plenty of compelling evolutionary explanations for these traits that would be naturally selected for in social species.

    Numerous other mammalian, avian and other species exhibit altruism and compassion very much like their human equivalents. Does that mean they all have a “soul,” for which we’ve yet to find evidence? Or is it simply an evolutionarily advantageous trait? Evidence ultimately trumps faith every time.

    So there is no reason to believe machines can’t have compassion and altruism. A reverse-engineered human brain would function like its human counterpart and thus possess the same personality traits.

    Actually, because it’s easier to modify machines than biology using our technologies, we could make machines MORE moral and MORE compassionate than any human. Think about that.

  40. Stan Gordon, the bottom line is that we don’t have enough data to even hazard a reasonable guess. Extraterrestrials probably exist, but we don’t know for certain yet. Advanced alien civilizations may exist, but we don’t know yet. It may be possible to develop faster than light travel or communications to make contact much more likely, but again, we don’t know. And thus how can we give a reasonable estimate about when we may be contacted?

    One argument goes that if intelligence exists out there, within a few thousand years (a blink of an eye in cosmic terms), an entire galaxy would likely be completely populated. Thus, the fact that we haven’t yet contacted alien life is strong evidence against the odds that intelligent life exists out there.

    Of course, it’s always possible that there ARE other species out there, but we’re the most advanced of all of them…but with a 13.7 billion year old universe, and if planetary systems capable of supporting life existed perhaps as far back as 12 billion years ago…the odds are pretty slim that we’re at the technological forefront…unless we’re the only ones (or one of a very select few in the entire universe).

  41. Ian says:

    A common theme in SF and not unreasonable.

    I think that anyone who thinks that normal humans will always be the pinnacle of cognitive prowess are just short sighted, or perhaps just victims of wishful thinking.

    You just need one self aware machine and that’s it. Once machines can design and build improved versions of themselves Humans need not be involved. At which point unaugmented folks will be at a severe disadvantage.

    I concur with a poster above in thinking that the biological sciences will also see explosive advances enabling humans to keep pace with their machine progeny.

    My $.02, YMMV, IMHO, FWIW, ETC

  42. eMJay says:

    UFOs…are they real? where do they come from? well, after watching a marathon of UFO sighting documentaries one day i became convinced that they actually existed…i know now that the government knows they exist, not because they have some dead ET stashed somewhere, but because they have had to document the numerous encounters by military personnel in both air and sea ..it’s part of public record.

    Here’s the thing…I don’t buy the common explanation that they are extraterrestrial….the appearance pattern and their behavior don’t add up with that explanation. why would extraterrestrials fly so far to avoid contact with us and take soil samples, as was noted by a doctor who witnessed them in action one night? Here’s what i think….they’re human, but not 2008 human, more like 20000008 human. Clear evidence exists of some sort of humanoid associated with these craft – suggesting to me a relation to primates (or maybe mammals)…which suggests an origin from earth…if you’re from earth but not from now or the past then you’ve got to be from the future. I think they’re time-travelling archaeologists just here to study us…

    it explains why the craft have such varying designs and appear in no particular patterns and why a craft design can be seen in 1960 and then again in 1990 while a different design is seen in other sightings in the intervening years…the two sightings are likely of the same craft, the same “aliens,” so it’s technically one sighting at two points in time..literally.

    Crop circles confused me until i heard that metal filings are typically found in the soil atter these occurances and they had the same pattern as the vegetation. I figure it’s probably some sort of time-stamp using metal placed into the soil to let them map when they are in time…hence the so-called hot spots for sighting them.

    i won’t go into all the things i think add up with this (there’s quite a bit), but i just mentioned this to say that we may already know what the future holds for us in terms of development as a species. If these ‘creatures’ are really us from the future it would mean that we will survive as a species against all odds..despite A.I. however the short nature of these creatures also worries me…miniaturisation is associated with long-term famine…could this be a clue of perilous times in our own future? Or perhaps they are really biomechanical droids sent to explore us on behalf of our decendents? only time will tell i guess…

  43. Mehrdad Rastegarian says:

    Ok, if we consider an inteligent civil on the nearest star except the Sun (just 4.2 ly far away) and we say them hello, and they are to receive our signal and answer imediately, we should wait about 8.4 years to hear their answer to our hello. (if they know english of course).

  44. eMJay says:

    We shouldn’t assume that all alien intelligence will be capable of being what we call friendly…they may have no motivation to ‘meet and greet’ as it may not even be in their nature. Our friendly nature evolved from the mammalian drive to care for young. An intelligent species derived from creatures lacking such a drive will be incapable of appreciating such a motivation to care. Caring isn’t essential for intelligent life, just for human life.

    Another thing is that we assume that alien life forms will be of the same size scale as us…is it guaranteed at all earth like planets will be earth-sized planets? And that the life forms will be earth sized?

    There was a period when life on this planet got really really large; even the bugs got large. It would have stayed that way too were it not for a calamity that befell the dinosaurs and the largest plantlife. Therefore we owe our existence to really good luck that wiped them away…and yet we needed them…we use the carbon materials that they ended up as to power our technology.

    as for A.I life…it’s possible that some advanced race may have sent out A.I. craft and robots to find life outside of their world..If the craft and/or bots have a renewable energy supply they could travel for millions of years without end, searching for signals of life. The civilisation that sent them may have done so before there was even life on this planet, perhaps before our sun even existed.
    There may very well be probes looking for us…but they are more likely looking IN THE WRONG GALAXY!!!

    there are billions of galaxies the universe that we know of. Even if there were only one planet in each milkyway-type galaxy harbouring intelligence species, it would still mean billions of possible examples of intelligent life should exist…so i think it’s safe to assume that intelligent life exists out there. However, it may just be too far our there.

  45. eMJay says:

    Mehrdad Rastegarian –

    I think it’s safe to assume that any life outside of earth wouldn’t know english..unless they were able to listen to our radio broadcasts and figure it out….we have thousands of languages here on earth and they have changed over time…we couldn’t use modern english to talk to anyone who spoke the english of 2000 years ago…the only reason we speak as much english as we do is colonisation.

    Alien life are not even guaranteed to use sound energy to communicate. For all we know, sound energy may be associated with plant life on their world so they may not look for it in a radio signal from ‘animal’ beings.They may use light energy or radio waves or some other form of energy and do so in ways that we haven’t imagined yet…Even if they use sound waves, they may use it at frequencies that we can’t hear or speak( eg. Ultrasound range). In any case, they will not know that the signal on the carrier wave is a sound wave…and we would sound like gibberish to them anyway. One alternaltive is to use mathematics to communicate..math is the language of the universe….

    Actually, the most intelligent way for them to respond would be simple…just copy the signal and send it back to the sender..they could also attach a signal of their own to the message we sent them to verify that intelligent life sent it…If we send a math signal that they could decode, they could send it back with the solution or the next value in the equation.

    The speed at which they respond (if at all)may depend on factors that we haven’t considered..they could be at war when the signal arrives there and are too busy to listen or respond…or (my personal favorite), they could end up going to war with each other over the meaning of the signal!!! either way we get no reply.

  46. eMJay says:

    Derek Mathias writes:
    ” One argument goes that if intelligence exists out there, within a few thousand years (a blink of an eye in cosmic terms), an entire galaxy would likely be completely populated. Thus, the fact that we haven’t yet contacted alien life is strong evidence against the odds that intelligent life exists out there. ”

    I think that it would be unreasonable to assume that a galaxy containing intelligent life could ever be completely populated…after all, only planets with environments friendly enough to be inhabitable could be used to support the lifeform that wants to move about…that also means that the distance between any two habitable planets would be very great…I don’t expect that any more than one percent of all planets in a galaxy could support the life of a given lifeform…therefore to find a whole galaxy anywhere teeming with life is impossible, if not more improbable than the possibility of the existence of intelligent life itself.

  47. Cynthia says:

    Nomad-Tanru

    Enough said.

  48. Josh says:

    We are already coming up with bionic replacement parts for limbs, ear and now eyes, but they are never as good as the real biological thing. I still think nature has made the best machines and biological life will be superior for a long time yet.

  49. Marina says:

    As the stars present some basic identical caratheristics with all the variant we study up to now. We are made of the same matter as the stars. I suppose if life exist in other parts of the Universe it will be likely to ours with just the differences in times of existence, like more or less older. So I supposed advance artificial intelligence, which is now, for Us a study, could have been already possible for more advance creature of the Universe which we are calling today “alien” creatures ( I will call just creatures) Is true that our mankind is not perfect, we aiming to perfection with artificial life/intelligence in wherever form. I do not believe that artificial life could replace nature creatures in any galaxy, but only as an aid & control by nature creature. Like still today we are submitted to our creator don’t matter how we are advance in Science to “Him” the last word.

  50. toto says:

    AI replacing humans? This is one of the most stupid stories I ever heard. Just how would the AI do that? by killing us? by replacing us in the economic system? and what about the humans still living in the forest or in the deserts, with no AI? will they be affected too? Let me laugh! let me laugh!!

  51. alphonso richardson says:

    Assuming older civilizations haven’t either died out, or assume we’re insignificant morons (not hard, given some ofthe politicians & papparazzi nowadays), it could be interesting.
    if the were communicating
    And we knew what the hell we were looking for………………….

  52. Richard T says:

    Nanotechnology holds out the promise of being able to build any structure we want, atom by atom. If this is so, then it means we will eventually be able to build a complete replica of a single cell organism , complete with its DNA mitochondria, ability to replicate, etc.

    This further means that we would theoretically not be able to tell a living cell with a biological origin apart from a living cell with a technological origin. Nor would it matter if we did. Obviously we could also build a multi-celled organism in the same fashion, and if we built both male and female organisms, then they would be capable of sex, and could reproduce through normal sexual means ( and also obviously, with us).

  53. Godmaster says:

    I think humans will one day be able to engineer ourselves biologically and artificially. We could use the best of both worlds and conquer disease, aging, and perhaps death itself. Just as long as we don’t act like the apes we are and kill ourselves in the process.

    As for the plausibility of AI taking over, it is actually possible. We could just start augmenting our minds and bodies with technology and continue to do so until we reach the point that we don’t need biology anymore and we can just manufacture ourselves and preserve our minds forever in silicon. Once your mind is made of non-biological components, you would be “artificial intelligence” yourself.

  54. emJay, the suitability of planets for life as we know it isn’t really relevant for whether or not life will eventually occupy it. Exponential growth of both populations and technology would likely soon allow both terraforming and–more importantly–construction of non-planetary systems. Add to this the ability to alter the original biological form to something completely different (most likely machine-related), and Earth-like planets become merely one of many options.

  55. Josh said, “We are already coming up with bionic replacement parts for limbs, ear and now eyes, but they are never as good as the real biological thing. I still think nature has made the best machines and biological life will be superior for a long time yet.”

    Looking at what we have now and declaring that the end is not the way to do it. In the early 1990s, after having worked a decade on decoding the human genome, we’d only decoded 1%. This led short-sighted people to say it would take a hundred years to complete the project…but the job was done within the next ten years.

    So looking at a crude technological accomplishment and concluding it’ll never be better than what biology has produced is a big mistake.

    Just recently a legless sprinter was banned from competing in the Olympics because his artificial limbs gave him an advantage over biological limbs. Granted, the limbs lack sensation and flexibility, but they’ve already bested human limbs in one area.

    I’d be willing to bet $1000 that within 15 years we’ll have machine parts that function better than the human equivalent in ALL ways. And within 20 years we should have machines that function better than humans in ALL ways…and certainly within 30 years.

  56. rusty says:

    do a quick Google on holographic universe, the idea is that the limit of entropy is the 2d surface area of the event horizon of any matter condensed into “black hole” density. The next step is what we understand as binary information (bits) is equivalent to artificial entropy(I’m jumping around here). As our ability to make things smaller and eventually quantum we bring that artificial entropy density limit closer to the natural entropy density limit.
    This all lends to the metaphor that the universe is actually the holographic projection of information stored in 2d into the 3rd dimension. (I’m really simplifying this)
    So what I’m saying is if we could manipulate the natural entropy of matter(like bits in a computer) we could change the 2d information that would change the nature of the 3d projection. Essentially…. alchemy/magic. So if there was an older civilization out there, that had control to this level they would have either obliterated themselves before the got a handle of it, or transcended into something else.
    Honestly, I think our first order of business is learning how to USE the solar system we have instead of camping out in this crib we call Earth.
    If E.T. is out there, there is a lot of space to cover so we stand a better chance if we split up!

  57. Tarquin Q. Zanzibar says:

    Not gonna happen. Wanna know why?

    The future is unknowable, therefore the evolution of intelligent life MUST include enough biological variation to endure the continuation of (in the first instance) the particular species, but more importantly, for life in general.

    Evolution’s way of creating this variety is genetic variety through the development of two different sexes….hard to imagine something like this being implemented in AI…
    When intelligent entities such as Humans degign AI, it is with a specific function in mind – where would the ESSENTIAL variety come from?

    Also, with biological life, traits which appear disadvantageous may actually be beneficial, e.g. Sickle Cell Anemia = defense against Malaria.

    It is also hard to see how AI would emulate important trraits such as imagination, curiosity, ambition etc
    …having said that, “fuzzy logic” is an interesting development…
    …still, like I said – Not gonna happen! …IMHO, of course!

    p.s. Dan Boyce… relative to the age of the Universe, intelligent life on this planet has been here just a micro-moment… An intelligent species younger than us, would, in Universe terms, be simultaneous… the odds of that happening are so small as to be (almost) inconceivable!

    p.p.s. Quote from eMJay: “i know now that the government knows they exist”

    You know nothing of the sort. If you are so uninformed as to believe such things, please don’t present your OPINIONS as FACT.
    I don’t deny your right to voice such OPINION, but presenting them in such a manner is only likely to drive of potential contributors who could give you intelligent insight into such things, rather than National Enquirer style coverage…

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