Fermi Paradox: Intelligent Civilizations

Fermi Paradox: Intelligent Civilizations


The problem with intelligent aliens is that
once your civilization becomes technologically advanced enough to wipe them out, it’s already
too late. Today we will be beginning my Fermi paradox
series. In this episode, we will be looking at intelligent
aliens or technologically advanced civilizations, tied in with the Fermi paradox. The question that asks: “Where are all the
aliens?”. In more detail, the Fermi paradox is the apparent
contradiction between the sheer size and age of the Universe and the apparent absence of
any other intelligent life besides ourselves. In other words, if the universe is so large
and old surely there has been more than enough time for another intelligent civilization
to evolve and gain intelligence and let us know that they’re there. The problem is, an intelligent civilization
would need better technology than us, because our signal is not strong at all. We would have trouble detecting most of our
own signals, even if we were only four light years away at the closest star, Proxima Centauri. So, to have any chance of another species
receiving our signals or us detecting their signals, they must have more advanced detecting
and transmitting methods than us. Now some of you will be thinking that it’s
not a good idea to broadcast yourself out to the universe, and those of you with this
thought are, for the most part, not wrong, because shouting out to the rest of the galaxy
saying where you are is not the best idea if there’s another civilization and if that
civilization is hostile, you’re entire civilization is in trouble. But even if we suddenly did stop broadcasting
signals because we realized the possible consequences, it’s already too late because Humans have
been broadcasting radio and TV broadcasts for more than a century now. However, this shouldn’t be a concern in
the first place because any civilization who has achieved interstellar travel and has plans
to harm life on Earth didn’t need the radio signals in the first place to find us, and
are advanced enough to know about us already. Now before we discuss any further, there’s
one important note you should consider. It’s important to make the distinction between
life and intelligent life. The Fermi paradox doesn’t care about ordinary
life that will never develop intelligence. Finding algae on an exoplanet helps us in
no way in the Fermi paradox. There are at least two reasons why a species
will never gain intelligence. Firstly, some species will never gain intelligence
because they don’t need it to survive. Fire is one of the things that humans invented
that really started things off, and helped us immensely. In the far past, about two million years ago,
humans came across fire and used it to stay warm, to sharpen tools, to cook meat and to
keep predators away. A species that doesn’t benefit from fire
won’t invent it, or might not even have the correct anatomy to do so. Take lions for example. They wouldn’t benefit from creating and
controlling fire because they don’t need the heat from the fire as they have fur, they
can digest raw meat much better than we can so they don’t need to cook their meat, and
lions tend to be apex predators so they don’t need fire to scare predators away. And fire is far too dangerous so they’d
stay away from it, if they did somehow come across it. So, in conclusion, some animals basically
don’t need intelligence to survive, and therefore they won’t develop it. The second reason is that some species can’t
gain intelligence. As I said, in order to become more technologically
advanced, in the beginning, inventing fire is a very good idea. Some animals can’t do this. For example, every underwater creature can’t,
as their environment doesn’t allow them to do so. However some underwater creatures do have
brains that are capable of developing intelligence. A dolphin has a large brain that allows them
to do things other animals can’t. For example when looking in a mirror, studies
show a dolphin has self-awareness and when hunting, they have new and creative methods. However, because they’re habitat is underwater
they will never gain intelligence or become technologically advanced, which does not help
us in the Fermi paradox. This is called a filter, or a Great Filter. In the context of the Fermi paradox, a filter
is a barrier that is really hard for life to overcome. The idea is based around the fact that we
can’t see any life out there, despite the gigantic number of stars and planets. And so there must be either something preventing
life from starting in the first place or something stopping life before it sends messages or
colonizes the galaxy. Examples of filters include getting the correct
star system while having a planet that is habitable, simple and complex life to develop,
multi-cell life and animals with large brains using tools. These filters were thought of by Robin Hanson,
who first proposed the idea of a Great Filter. Those filters are ones that stop life from
beginning in the first place. Climate change, nuclear warfare, and asteroids
are examples of filters that could stop life before they send messages out to the universe
or try to colonize the galaxy, for example. In the Great Filter hypothesis there are many
scenarios for Humans. One: Humans have already passed all the filters. We’ve clearly passed the filters of having
a sun capable of sustaining life while having a planet in the habitable zone, life to develop
and so on. This scenario seems likely because it’s
incredibly difficult to kill all life on Earth. You’d have to go to some extent to kill
all life on Earth. We’ll come back to the idea of killing all
life on Earth and methods of doing so near the end of the episode. Two: Humans have not encountered all the filters;
they’re ahead of us. While we’ve passed the necessities for life
to be able to begin, we might have not passed filters that are becoming more relevant and
popular everyday such as climate change, nuclear warfare, overpopulation, terrorism and so
on. There could be a Great Filter that wipes out
almost every civilization that ever tries to get past it, perhaps only 1 in a billion
civilizations overcome it. It would be very bad news to find life elsewhere
in our solar system, such as on Mars that has developed there independently. It would suggest that life is not rare, seen
as its happened twice in one solar system, and it would imply that the filter lies ahead. However, there may be no such thing as the
Great Filter, even if some civilizations destroyed themselves, it may not be a hard rule. The Great Filter hypothesis is a popular solution
to the Fermi paradox and is a popular camp: it offers a pretty good, satisfying solution
to the Fermi paradox, because it explains why, at the moment, Humans are the only life
that we know of, and why we aren’t seeing the Milky Way teeming with life. However, the problem with the Great Filter
hypothesis is that you can always say, “Surely just one civilization can overcome all the
filters”. Using the examples we were talking about earlier,
not every species out there in the universe is going to be based on an ocean covered planet,
not every species is going to be like lions where they don’t need to gain intelligence
to survive, not every species is going to be hit by an asteroid or any other catastrophic
event that wipes all life out. All it takes is one civilization to have the
right conditions on their home planet so that they can gain intelligence and become technologically
advanced enough to overcome any filter that arises but more importantly so that they colonize
their galaxy where we would be able to see them from every angle. But that’s assuming that the civilization
in question actually wants to colonize the galaxy. Some civilizations might see no reason in
colonizing the galaxy, or it may be too expensive to colonize the galaxy. They might stay on their original home planet
or close to it in order to hide from other hostile civilizations. Or they may keep to themselves on their home
planet living in virtual reality running on a matrioshka brain. We’re going to cover this notion, that some
alien civilizations might see no point in travelling the cosmos, in a future episode
of my Fermi paradox series. Let’s assume that a very technologically
advanced civilization doesn’t see any point in colonizing the galaxy in manned missions,
but instead they use von Neumann probes: self-replicating spacecrafts that travel to a nearby solar
system, grab natural resources in order to build some more probes and send them to other
solar systems, and repeat. This advanced civilization wants to kill all
life off in their galaxy, no matter what the circumstances are. They program the von Neumann probes to find
exoplanets (preferably an Earth-like exoplanet that has good chances of having life). When the probes reach the designated exoplanet
they land and scan for life. If they find any signs of life (whether it’s
plant-life or intelligent-life) the probe destroys it. If the probe doesn’t find any life then,
after its created several other self-replicating probes, it settles down and sets up shop on
the planet, turning on every so often to scan the nearby surroundings for any signs of life. If you really want to destroy all life in
your galaxy then just program your probes to look for not just intelligent life but
just any living life. Destroying life that hasn’t gained intelligence
prevents that life from potentially evolving and gaining intelligence over the course of
several hundred million years. Soon, within only a few million years if not
less, these self-replicating probes will have colonized and be monitoring every planet in
the galaxy. When using self-replicating probes, especially
when discussing artificial intelligence, it’s really important to not let them have intelligence
or free will. Instead make them dumb so that they don’t
change their motives and philosophies; that will ruin your entire plan. This is especially portrayed in one of my
favourite books: “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke. When travelling the solar system, going to
Saturn, the AI on the spaceship called “Hal” changes his motives and kills one of the only
members of crew. This is one of the major themes of the book:
Man, when creating machines especially with AI, cannot understand how they work and cannot
fully control them. AI turning evil is very often portrayed in
science-fiction and makes a very good and interesting plot. Let’s say that a very advanced, intelligent
civilization discover our planet using telescopes on their home planet. Being so advanced they would’ve moved on
from their home-planet, and possibly be living on rotating habitats along with a Dyson sphere
around their home-star, or some other advanced form of living space, but that’s besides
the point. After finding our planet and seeing that it
has life, they plan a mission to travel to Earth. Through their telescopes, depending on how
far away from Earth they are, they would’ve seen civilization at its very early stages
or it might be non-existent, because light hasn’t had enough time yet to get to their
solar system. They reach Earth several centuries later. An advanced civilization might have noticed
Earth already, before this species, and saw us as no threat so they left us alone. But this civilization has a different intent. They travelled here for Earth’s raw materials
and natural resources. Even with FTL, Faster Than Light travel, interstellar
travel will most likely take centuries probably a lot longer and it’s probably a one way
trip, because it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to refuel and obviously because interstellar
travel takes so long. So telling a species, that has gone through
several generations just waiting for this one moment for centuries, to go away most
likely won’t end well. They might want to talk in person or forget
that, and go straight into killing all life on the planet so that they can use Earth for
themselves. But we could’ve avoided the alien armada
in the first place if you put a simple beacon saying “This is our solar system, no trespassing”. But if aliens do decide to ignore all communications
and kill all life on the planet they’d probably do means of killing all life on Earth that
wouldn’t destroy the natural resources. That is if their aim is to get Earth’s resources. If they don’t need the resources then they
can just do any method to kill all life on the planet. In this case they could nuke it for all they
care. In the scenario that I’ve just created the
species travelled to Earth to obtain the resources. But there are a few other reasons why a species
might want to travel to Earth. Firstly, to talk to us. An advanced alien species might want to simply
talk to us and find more about how we govern our planet. Before they come to Earth it’s their job
to do some research about our language, psychology, anatomy, and so on. Learning our language is the most important
and is imperative, so that they can actually talk to us. And it won’t be that difficult to learn
our basic language, because we’ve been broadcasting radio and TV signals for very long so they
have tons of resources to use. I may do a video on ways an alien species
might use our radio and TV broadcasts to learn our language, as another episode to this series. Second, a specific thing. They might just want Earth for themselves. On the other hand, it’s unlikely that an
advanced civilization would come to Earth just for our raw materials. Almost everything you can find on Earth, you
can find elsewhere in the universe (apart from life that is), and it’s probably easier
to get it not from Earth anyways. Third, to destroy our planet. This is the most logical reason. An advanced alien species might not take any
chances and try to kill any other life in their galaxy, like we discussed earlier with
the von Neumann probes process. Maybe so that they have no competition in
the future and so that we don’t get too advanced. There are many ways to destroy all life on
a planet although, don’t get me wrong, it’s very difficult. I think the most obvious one is nuclear warfare. For some time, we’ve had sufficient capability
in nuclear weapons to render Earth uninhabitable. It would only take a regional war to create
enough soot, that would rise up into Earth’s atmosphere, and block sunlight. This would cause a global drop in sunlight
and destroy Earth’s protective ozone layer for the time being. Even if an advanced alien species used all
the nuclear weapons they’ve got, it’s still not the most effective method to use. And it’s a bit of a waste of such a perfect
planet. A much more effective method is genetically
enhanced viruses. This includes creating DNA from scratch, specifically
aimed at the species you’re going to use it for, however Humans aren’t currently
capable of doing this. If they wanted to use Earth for themselves,
the alien species could create the virus so that it only wipes out Humans, so that it
would leave the rest of the animals on Earth unaffected. Previously in history, it’s thought that
the dinosaurs were killed off 65 million years ago by a large asteroid. This would be another method to kill all life
on a planet, but it’s much more difficult. To do this method, you’ve got two options:
either find a sufficiently-sized asteroid and somehow set it on course for Earth or
the probably easier but more expensive method is to construct an artificial asteroid. Other much more amusing and exotic methods
include: giving Earth enough material and/or compress it into a black hole, or even somehow
make the sun explode in a supernova. Comment down below your thoughts on the topic
in this episode. Make sure you subscribe for more content on
astronomy and futurism. If you enjoyed this video check out my most
recent video, a previous video or my Fermi paradox playlist. Thank you so much for watching, have a nice
day.

42 thoughts on “Fermi Paradox: Intelligent Civilizations

  1. Note: I recently got a new mic, which has improved the audio quite a bit. Comment down below if you think the audio is good enough. And as always, I recommend turning on the notification bell so you're reminded when I upload a new video. Also thank you everyone for 10,000 subscribers!

  2. Your voice is sounding sexy on the new mic. Fantastic video, as usual. I really don’t know how you can improve to be honest. Just carry on with the hard work!

  3. That is a very thought provoking video. When it comes to advanced and technologically sophisticated species I suppose it all boils down to empathy. They may be hyper-intelligent but not very interesting to us and they may think we are irrational and prone to violence.

    Why would any being sacrifice their whole life in deep space unless they were very motivated to go somewhere else? Refuge is the main reason I come up with but exploration may be a factor if they have long lives.

  4. I’m not really sure why it’s referred to as a paradox. Two statements that seem to contradict one another but make a kind of sense. All men are created equal but some people are more equal than others. See Isaac Arthur if you have some hours to spare on the Fermi Paradox.

  5. (they can refuel with local ressources potentially), and why would they be conquerant? In my view "Super intelligent life forms", if they are, are sufficiently intelligent to not "conquer" anything because they already delt any of their problems, i assume they d be more like in the interestellar movie, and our view of them is a misconception, because we tend to humanize their way of being with human concept, i dont see the point but its only my opinion. Anyways, great vids, thanks for your work!

  6. Maybe they are somewhere out there, but still not advanced enough – that is, even less advanced than us. That would mean that we will probably never meet them, but I think this scenario should be taken into account too. People tend to imagine that aliens are super-intelligent beings with very advanced technology, while they might be still evolving into more intelligent creatures. I admit I am not very familiar with this topic, but that's what I think

  7. Maybe aliens are only slightly more advanced. I mean it's not like the movies so maybe they're almost able to reach us. Maybe in the next few centuries or even decades we will see.

  8. One reason I toy with for the absence of super advanced civilizations after 13 billions years (if bing bang t. happens to be correct) could be that it took exactly that amount of time (generations of novas) for planets like Earth to have the right ingredients for life and synaptic processes. So, if this is the case, we may be currently on the race with a bunch of other civilizations for the conquest of the galaxy, and we may be lagging behind.

  9. Interesting views on how intelligence comes about. Being bipedal should be a must to free the arms…. hands. Simon Conway Morris has a video on "Why human evolution is inevitably"

  10. I like the way you end a 15min video about several ways the world can end: "Have a nice day.".
    Like, yeah, fuck that shit; Imma just gonna worry about work.

    This also makes me think why so many people remain religious: it's far easier, calmer. "Some magic dude created everything and put life on our plant. And there's nothing else, and never will be. Period."

  11. I've seen many videos on Fermi Paradox and this has by far been my favorite. Very original. Keep up the great content.

  12. Good thought provoking stuff! I'm sure super advanced interstellar aliens would be ambivalent to us & really wouldn't be interested in our resources because, as you pointed out, there's much more minerals & materials floating about in space . Doubtful our radio emissions would be distinguishable from cosmic background radiation by the time they reach other stars,they'd be too dissipated – as indeed would their radio footprint be too weak for us to detect. Good topic well presented. Cheers mate 👍👍👽

  13. I LOVE your videos. Your voice is very soothing; it allows me to absorb a lot of the information you put forth! Thanks so much for your content!❤❤

  14. Have you ever considered collaborating with Isaac Arthur, Fraser Cain or John Michael Godier on a couple of videos? You all cover similar topics, yet I can watch all of you back-to-back on exactly the same topic, literally for hours, out of fear I might miss some keen insight. Keep up the splendid work.

  15. You missed one premise….
    There is also the consideration that the Universe itself may just be a simulation, nothing more than code in a multi dimensional quantum computer and "Mankind.exe" is just one of several programs running on this massive system.
    It would certainly explain why we seem to be "alone" in the universe.
    Think about it, we've created MMORPG "Universes" ourselves, why is it so strange to think that "our" universe might not be just that?
    This begs the question as to WHO built and programmed this computer and WHY.
    Are we just another "Civilization" game?
    If so, will there come a time that "other" programs interact with us?
    Only time will tell…..
    From my personal experience, i can tell you, there IS an intelligent "engineer" behind the universe,there has to be, as it's far too orderly to have happened on it's own.
    The question is why, why run the sim?. What questions do you want answered? Is the real Human race long gone and you're just replaying our history now as a sim?
    For all our might, the "Imperium of Man" may be nothing more than someone's Science project………
    Read "Breeds There a Man…?" by Isaac Asimov, it more succinctly illustrates my point.

  16. Hey man, I just wanted to say that I think it’s awesome that you were able to build up your channel. I am 14 (I remember seeing a comment where you said you were 14 also) and a space nerd like you, but I would never actually be productive with it.

  17. Did you already upload a video on this in the past, or am I getting some major crazy Deja Vu? Maybe a remastered version of an old video? Either way, it’s a great video and Fermi paradox is always interesting. I’m glad the topic will reach a wider audience now that you have a lot of subs!

  18. Convenient timing for this subject, I have been pondering the Fermi Paradox just for the sake of it.
    To presume to know what a type 2 or type 3 civilization wants is arrogant, but it's all we can really do given that the only model of life to go off is us.

    But let's assume they do want something as base as resources and the civilization in question is type 2. They would certainly not want it from our planet, there are several gas giants aswell as our local star for them to harvest all of the materials that earth already provides, aswell as an unfathomable number of other planets and star's in this galaxy alone.

    If they were "playing it safe" for longevities sake, and wanted to wipe out humanity to prevent advancement, then you'd also have to take into account we're still a type 0 civilization. And that in this state we are completely harmless to anything but ourselves. I can see them considering us a threat if we pass the Great Filter that lies between a type 0 and type 1 civilization, because at that point the only real thing holding us back is the speed of our technological progression, which statistically grows at an exponential rate anyway.

    Finally, why would a type 2 or type 3 civilization REALLY be interested in us. When you walk past an ants nest you generally don't stop and ponder its societal structure, nor do you care what they are doing. They are just ants living like ants and are of no consequence to you. They are stupid and primitive. We are ants to a type 2 or 3 civilization.

  19. Good video. I subscribed. But there is a flaw. The easiest way for a space-faring alien race to wipe out humanity is to hit earth with a projectile at interstellar-typical speeds. Even non-relativistic 1/2 m v^2 gives tremendous energy dissipation on target when v is high enough. The dinosaur killer was big , but only 4 km/s. Oumuamua would have done enormous damage at 87 km/s. A space faring civilization could create projectiles at 30,000 km/s.

  20. we will never know if aliens exist. they cant get here and we cant get there. but hey, science fiction is fun so enjoy the fantasy.

  21. A total absence of intel life in the Universe telling us that a physical laws are UNBREAKABLE. It's impossible: to reach a sub or super light speed, to build a decent mighty engine, to survive in interstellar space (even inside a spaceship). Wormholes, alqubiere drive & other fancy things — DOES NOT EXIST! No civilizations could get it even in a millions of years. That's why we don't see 'em

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