Stephen Hawking: Why Isn’t the Milky Way “Crawling With Self-Designing Mechanical or Biological Life?”

Stephen Hawking: Why Isn't the Milky Way "Crawling With Self-Designing Mechanical or Biological Life?"

In his famous lecture on Life in the Universe, Stephen Hawking asks: “What are the chances that we will encounter some alien form of life, as we explore the galaxy?”

If the argument about the time scale for the appearance of life on Earth is correct, Hawking says “there ought to be many other stars, whose planets have life on them. Some of these stellar systems could have formed 5 billion years before the Earth. So why is the galaxy not crawling with self-designing mechanical or biological life forms?”

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Why hasn’t the Earth been visited, and even colonized? Hawking asks. “I discount suggestions that UFO’s contain beings from outer space. I think any visits by aliens, would be much more obvious, and probably also, much more unpleasant.”

Hawking continues: “What is the explanation of why we have not been visited? One possibility is that the argument, about the appearance of life on Earth, is wrong. Maybe the probability of life spontaneously appearing is so low, that Earth is the only planet in the galaxy, or in the observable universe, in which it happened. Another possibility is that there was a reasonable probability of forming self reproducing systems, like cells, but that most of these forms of life did not evolve intelligence.”

We are used to thinking of intelligent life, as an inevitable consequence of evolution, Hawking emphasized,  but it is more likely that evolution is a random process, with intelligence as only one of a large number of possible outcomes.

Intelligence, Hawking believes contrary to our human-centric existece, may not have any long-term survival value. In comparison the microbial world, will live on, even if all other life on Earth is wiped out by our actions. Hawking’s main insight is that intelligence was an unlikely development for life on Earth, from the chronology of evolution:  “It took a very long time, two and a half billion years, to go from single cells to multi-cell beings, which are a necessary precursor to intelligence. This is a good fraction of the total time available, before the Sun blows up. So it would be consistent with the hypothesis, that the probability for life to develop intelligence, is low. In this case, we might expect to find many other life forms in the galaxy, but we are unlikely to find intelligent life.”

Another possibility is that there is a reasonable probability for life to form, and to evolve to intelligent beings, but at some point in their technological  development “the system becomes unstable, and the intelligent life destroys itself. This would be a very pessimistic conclusion. I very much hope it isn’t true.”

Hawkling prefers another possibility: that there are other forms of intelligent life out there, but that we have been overlooked. If we should pick up signals from alien civilizations, Hawking warns,”we should have be wary of answering back, until we have evolved” a bit further. Meeting a more advanced civilization, at our present stage,’ Hawking says “might be a bit like the original inhabitants of America meeting Columbus. I don’t think they were better off for it.”



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  1. Don’t make the mistake of judging the possible actions of our friends out there by the weaknesses we exhibit in our own interactions with one another. Chances are they left our level of civilization behind eons ago.

  2. Imagine if he donated that money to a legitimate ufo research project that addressed the plethora of evidence on Earth at our disposal….I’m sure the ufo community will discount his theories about life just as quickly.

  3. What cracks me up, is someone like Hawkings can make a bold assertion about ufos…and what he is willing to discount. He is as much an expert on how delicious cereal is, or which model is the hottest. I discount British girls because some have bad teeth. Being able to theprize on black holes and the origins of the universe unfortunately makes you no more informed about alien life than a third grader. They are here. ..I’ve never respected Hawking’so views on aliens any more than Carl Sagan or Oprah….even though these people are genius in their own way. They are only our most educated monkeys. ..certainly not the wisest…and talking out of their ass. Hawkings theories here that life could be billions of years ahead of us. ..but will still conform to hos rather narrow view of what it is. ..what it is capable of…and what it’s objectives could be. Perhaps they like spaghetti. .why don’t they steal thebworld’so sauce. Am I the only one who sees through the limits of his man…and how arrogant he is to make such bold to statements? Ask the smartest chimp do discern which land masses we’ve colonised on this planet. .ask the monkey who can use multiple tools….you’re wrong hawkings. Sorry about the million oohdollar bill for your latest project..that’s a lot of bananas. Ooh ooh

    • Relax! Hawking’s just giving his opinion. He’s not stepping on your toes. No need to trash the guy so angrily. If he’s wrong he’s wrong but maybe you’re no expert either? Oh wait, he’s maybe more of an expert than you? Possibly rather smart?

  4. Another Hawkins article… (just joking)….I think he is wrong with all the planets we’ve found so and the countless number we’ve not found….there is life out there….and it’s been here in the past and will continue to be here and visit and abduct people…is honestly believe that they have bases under water and the far side of the moon. …Hawkins might be a genius but he has no vision of what is out there. ..the truth is out there

  5. “I think any visits by aliens, would be much more obvious, and probably also, much more unpleasant.” although this is likely why is it so hard for the mainstream to admit that if they were advanced enough to get here in the first place then surely they would have no problem with deceiving us and controlling us without our knowledge? They would most likely have the technology and knowhow to control us like puppets without us even realising something was going on. A tactical long term attack would be more advantageous than an all out assault especially if they wanted to keep the planet in one piece I mean humans are the type if we were loosing a war to blow the shit out of everything so nobody could have it! all they would have to do is look into our history to know this. Surely it would be better to kill us all off slowly or to stage a natural disaster..

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