Back when I started writing this blog (May 25, 2008), I wrote a post titled
That post still holds true today. My feelings haven't changed. You may say it doesn't matter what I feel, life either exists on Mars or it doesn't and my feelings have no effect on the true outcome of the scientific findings. I say you're wrong, like Schrodinger's Cat is dead . . . only one can be true, HOWEVER recent findings suggest I was right! I want to be in a universe where life exists not just on Mars, but many worlds in our solar system and even around other stars.
I say it is important we find life on Mars, doing so will motivate colonization throughout the solar system. It will transform the common popular perception of the universe. It might wake us up from our narcissistic parochial views of life in the universe. I believe that can ultimately only be good for humanity and its long term survival, whatever we eventually become.
That leads into something I wrote below, which I will repost here:
Where are all the aliens? One of the things that puzzles me the most these days, and maybe a few others as well, is the Fermi Paradox.
Again, where are all the aliens? The galaxy and universe should be rightly teeming with them. Or at least I would like to believe and see it so myself.
Assuming the evolution of life on Earth is a normal example and a relatively common happenstance; and that of course it is a big assumption, but let's continue on anyway.
It seems we should have picked up alien signals or have been visited by alien intelligent life by now! Or at least the results of such life, their constructed proxies sent to visit our very solar system.
At least that is what I would want to do with my intelligent alien curiosity, it would almost mandate it. Certainly if my species had achieved space travel to a nearby moon or planet, sent out probes and transmitted signals to the stars, I would want to keep going, as far and as fast as I could manage it.
Possibly by sending constructed nano machines self replicating and populating across the galaxy. Would I (I the species), be able to even posthumously explore and contact life elsewhere? Certainly, if you believe in all the UFO stories or some of the unverified signals you would say we have already been visited, maybe even been probed. Let's keep going.
Some of our science instruments in space, namely Kepler are discovering a variety of potentially habitable planets around other stars inside their Goldilock zones right now. Is is possible that intelligent life, while important for "a short term evolutionary survival”, I mean a few hundred thousand years to a million or so years for a species, excludes that window of opportunity for contact with other lifeforms around other stars? Simply because the stars are many light years apart.
Basically it is too long a time to wait for the survival of that civilization building species? Meaning that the level of technology sophistication necessary for star travel is a threshold possibly difficult to reach and maintain for any prolonged period?
That a civilization of said species goes into rapid technological, societal decline, over population, resource scarcity, before or near the milestone of star communication and travel can be achieved? Is this a given for what must be solved/achieved before being able to make contact with another alien civilization? How long can one of our modern civilizations last with the availability of radio telescopes and a listening program?
This thereby reduces the chances of contact because of the timing necessary between intelligent alien lifeforms on two separate star systems (possibly very far away, 100's of light years -The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy 100,000-120,000 light-years in diameter containing 200–400 billion stars.) to a factor near that of zero? Does the Drake equationeven take this into account?
So does this explain the Fermi Paradox? I'm not sure, no one can be with our limited information. This is of course all a big assumption, hence the first part of the title of this post, "Pure Speculation", very unscientific indeed, but let's push on anyway . . .
Before we go on, think, think this might be the most important time in the life of our human species, the time in which we have the very capability to communicate with other intelligent life living around another star light years away. Of course you should also be aware we are not allowed to do this, to send a signal again.
Now what is the next question? I think I might actually know. I'll try to phrase it in my own words. How does an intelligent species, a civilization with currently 7 billion (biological living) individuals, on one resource taxed planet, survive long enough and at a high enough technological sophistication level, to achieve first contact with another alien civilization? Whether that is actually reaching out to make that contact, or simply still being around to hear it when it comes. “Species Consciousness” I would call it. Awake and alive long enough for contact to occur and ready to technologically respond.
To me the answer is multifaceted and seems almost obvious.
We need to do a number of intentional things to begin with. We must first acknowledge the high probability that life and intelligent life exists in the universe.
We must not be frightened of it (in this case fear really is the enemy), or of contacting it (thinking it will be more advanced than us or may not want to respond because of our assumed lower level of advancement), or of even admitting we have contacted it (to the public). Of course we should be cautious, but not to the extent of prohibiting contact and allowing that contact to be generally acknowledged in public, whatever the immediate and short term consequences might be.
Bad Hollywood alien invasion scenarios must be dismissed for what they are, fantasy entertainment, no different than witches and wizards. Any alien civilization that can travel the stars, can certainly terraform the most uninhabitable of planets and will be far more interested in observing us in our natural state than conquering us for our resources.
The idea that they would even be short on resources, seems more than preposterous. Besides at that level a large part of their population may be digital, simply stored and purely computational. They may experience consciousness at variable rates and only choose to be corporeal when necessarily desirable. Large numbers of them may live entirely in virtual constructs. Death for them may even no longer exist, unless it is desired, or some part of a renewal or rejuvenation process for stirring in innovation and new ideas. They maybe suspended in slow thought, or hyper thought, computing their own realities, waiting for us to trigger their accelerated awakening and response in this one. Then expending energies to come meet us locally or rendezvous.
Or even more likely agreeing to transmit representatives to us digitally following instructions for construction of a suitable virtual construct, or physical DNA-like womb incubator environmental. This might be a sort of reverse Carl Sagan "Contact" idea without the actual starship/vessel just a triple redundant encoded signal transmitted to us at the speed of light. This would be used to "construct or grow" the aliens themselves. A way for knowledge and experience to be transmitted would have to be possible as well (something we have yet to figure out). If we had the technology developed, we might agree to this ourselves. It is certainly more economical and practical an idea that a starship journey, but would involve working with the aliens over decades to accomplish. Probably a good thing before physical contact.
We must understand that such a contact would transform the human species into a long term survival civilization which would most likely result in the ultimate exploration and settlement of the galaxy itself. It would in essence guarantee our long term (millions, possible billions of years) survival, if not infinity. Who knows what we might actual become? But one thing I think we won't be, is extinct.
How can we achieve this? We must continue funding and encouraging space exploration and eventually migration. We must continue to fund projects like SETI. We must develop a general publicly acknowledged protocol for notification if alien contact is received. We must openly be able to discuss this in the public eye.
We must also put a backup plan for humanity in place now. A backup plan for rebooting civilization and the human species in event of a multitude of recognized extinction scenarios. Only by doing these things can we insure a chance we will be around and possibly conscious for first contact.
If I'm wrong then my speculation doesn't really matter.
However, If I am even partially right, then it matters very greatly. We must begin acting immediately in this direction. Our very long term species survival depends upon it and so does our first contact with an alien intelligent species. I somehow believe after that event that truly anything will become possible between us. Our potentials will become amplified by a factor much greater than two. The rest is unknown, just like it is now.
Maybe the next question should be are you ready for really alien contact?