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The Billion-Year Technology Gap: Could One Exist?

The Billion-Year Technology Gap: Could One Exist?

Are we the lone sentient life in the universe? So far, we have no evidence to the contrary, and yet the odds that not one single other planet has evolved intelligent life would appear, from a statistical standpoint, to be quite small. There are an estimated 250 billion (2.5 x 10¹¹ ) stars in the Milky Way alone, and over 70 sextillion (7 x 10²² ) in the visible universe, and many of them are surrounded by multiple planets. 

Meanwhile, our 4.5 billion-year old Solar System exits in a universe that is estimated to be between 13.5 and 14 billion years old. Experts believe that there could be advanced civilizations out there that have existed for 1.8 gigayears (one gigayear = one billion years). 

Fermi reasoned, if there are other advanced extraterrestrial civilizations, then why is there no evidence of such, like spacecraft or probes floating around the Milky Way. His question became famously known as the Fermi Paradox. The paradox is the contradiction between the high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and yet the lack of evidence for, or contact with, any such civilizations.

Given the extreme age of the universe, and its vast number of stars, if planets like Earth are at all typical, then there should be many advanced extraterrestrial civilizations out there, and at least a few in our own Milky Way. Another closely related question is the Great Silence, which poses the question: Even if space travel is too difficult, if life is out there, why don’t we at least detect some sign of civilization like radio transmissions?

Milan Cirkovic of the Astronomical Observatory in Belgrade, points out that the median age of terrestrial planets in the Milky Way is about 1.8 gigayears greater than the age of the Earth and the Solar System, which means that the median age of technological civilizations should be greater than the age of human civilization by the same amount. The vastness of this interval indicates that one or more processes must suppress observability of extraterrestrial communities.

Mike Treder of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies suggests that since there is, at this point, no direct and/or widely apparent evidence that extraterrestrial life exists, it likely means one of the following:

We are (A) the first intelligent beings ever to become capable of making our presence known, and leaving our planet. At this point, there are no other life forms out there as advanced as us. Or perhaps extraterrestrial life does exists, but for some reason extraterrestrial life is so very rare and so very far away we’ll never make contact anyway—making extraterrestrial life nonexistent in a practical sense at least.

Or is it (B) that many advanced civilizations have existed before us, but without exception, they have for some unknown reason, existed and/or expanded in such a way that they are completely undetectable by our instruments.

Or is it (C) There have been others, but they have all run into some sort of “cosmic roadblock” that eventually destroys them, or at least prevents their expansion beyond a small area.

Then ancients once believed that Earth was the center of the universe. We now know that Earth isn’t even at the center of the Solar System. The Solar System is not at the center of our galaxy, and our galaxy is not in any special position in contrast to the rest of the known universe. From a scientific viewpoint, there is no apparent reason to believe that Earth enjoys some privileged status.

Since Earth’s placement in space and time appears to be unremarkably random, proposition “A” seems fairly unlikely. Assuming humans evolved like other forms of life into our present state due to natural selection, then there’s really nothing all that mystical, special or remarkable about our development as a species either. Due to the shear numbers, there are almost certainly other planets capable of supporting at least some form of life. If that is so, then for Earthlings to be the very first species ever to make a noticeable mark on the universe, from a statistical perspective, is incredibly unlikely.

For proposition “B” to be correct would defy all logic. If potentially thousands, or even millions of advanced extraterrestrial civilizations exist in the known universe, then why would all of them, without exception, choose to expand or exist in such a way that they are completely undetectable? It’s conceivable that some might, or perhaps even the majority, but for all of them to be completely undetectable civilizations does not seem likely either.

Proposition C, according to Treder, appears to be more likely than A or B. If “survival of the fittest” follows similar pathways on other worlds, then our own “civilized” nature could be somewhat typical of extraterrestrial civilizations that have, or do, exist. Somehow, we all get to the point where we end up killing ourselves in a natural course of technological development and thereby self-inflict our own “cosmic roadblock”.

“Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the Fermi Paradox is what it suggests for the future of our human civilization. Namely, that we have no future beyond earthly confinement and, quite possibly, extinction. Could advanced nanotechnology play a role in preventing that extinction? Or, more darkly, is it destined to be instrumental in carrying out humanity’s inevitable death sentence?” wonders Mike Treder, executive director of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN).

Treder believes that some of the little understood new technologies now being developed such as nanotech, and others, could well be either our salvation or just as likely end up causing our ultimate destruction.

“Whatever civilizations have come before us have been unable to surpass the cosmic roadblock. They are either destroyed or limited in such a way that absolutely precludes their expansion into the visible universe. If that is indeed the case—and it would seem to be the most logical explanation for Fermi’s Paradox—then there is some immutable law that we too must expect to encounter at some point. We are, effectively, sentenced to death or, at best, life in the prison of a near-space bubble,” suggests Treder. “Atomically-precise exponential manufacturing could enable such concentrations of unprecedented power as to result in either terminal warfare or permanent enslavement of the human race. Of course, that sounds terribly apocalyptic, but it is worth considering that the warnings we heard at the start of the nuclear arms race, and the very real risks we faced in the height of the Cold War, were but precursors to a much greater threat posed by an arms race involving nano-built weaponry and its accompanying tools of surveillance and control.”

When we consider the chronological history of life on Earth, humans have only existed for a small fragment of time and our existence has always been precarious. The entire time we’ve existed, we been banding into various groups and attempting to kill each other—or at least are constantly in the process of developing more effective ways of killing each other—just in case. The US government, for example, spends on “Defense” (including “preemptive” warfare) and Homeland Security, 8 times what it spends on educating the next generation. There is enough nuclear weaponry in storage around the world to kill every living creature on the planet several times over. Clearly, we’re a species with poor odds of surviving indefinitely.

Our self-destructive natures aside, curiosity may end up killing more than the cats. The faster technology is advancing, the more our “leap now, look later” nature appears to grow as well. If evolution on Earth serves as a somewhat typical template for evolution of other life forms, then becoming a truly advanced civilization must be a very daunting task indeed and a very rare, if not impossible, achievement.

In fact, Sir Martin Rees, Great Britain’s Astronomer Royal and respected professor of astrophysics at Cambridge University has estimated that humans have only a 50-50 shot of making it through the 21st century. If Rees is right, and our standing on the planet is as precarious as he and others believe it is, then we may be alone due to a built-in evolutionary self-destruct button. Others have come before and others will exist after, but the cosmic roadblock may be an innate, finite nature, which only allows sentient life forms to exist for a very small window of time—windows of life which may be too small for our civilization to match up with the small windows of other civilizations that have been before or will come after.

In a contrary point of view, Milan Cirkovic believes that highly efficient city-state type of advanced technological civilizations could easily pass unnoticed even by much more advanced SETI equipment, especially if located near the Milky Way rim or other remote locations.

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47 Comments on "The Billion-Year Technology Gap: Could One Exist?"

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Guest

From what I know, we are not alone. Of course, I can not prove anything. Even if I had any evidence, I think I wouldn’t present it or tell anyone about it. Why? Because I have lost trust and respect towards others, but don’t flaunt it.

Guest

Overwhelming evidence that we are not alone; but your common sense shouldn’t need that much…

Guest

Their kind of technology is way way like u have had billions of billions gap I believe this guy’s have been here but are invisible we can’t see them but they can see us I have no doubt in it

Guest

We’re trying to find an intelligent form of life like us. Well, what if we aren’t intelligent enough to find a much more intelligent being? We can’t be that arrogant to believe we are the most intelligent form of life in such a huge universe.

Guest

Maybe all civilizations began at the same time? Set in a race to find out who can achieve more intelligents and become far more technological faster and become capable and worthy of running this universe?

Guest

This article ignores the millions of UFO sitings over many decades

Guest

Life is beautiful. It’s everywhere and it would stupid and crazy to think only on Earth did it begin.

Guest

Silly…. they’ve been here for Avery long time….wake up…

Guest

Dudley. Smart man tell or not.

Guest

I think our ancestors came from Mars and now with all this new technology we are so interested in Mars again and exploring with the robots ❤️

Guest

Yes and we know it.

Guest

The Drake equation has shown there is an estimated about 15,000 intelligent civilizations out there in the Milky Way alone. That may or may not seem like a lot to some but you also have to understand that the Milky Way is 100,000 light years across. Even with about 200 billion stars, there is a lot of room to have civilizations.

Guest

Lol 😂
I’m sure there are connected places, probably more towards the center of galaxies, more stars, more planets. Never know, Earth my already be included

Guest

even though in our galaxy these civilations are isolated i like to think in some galaxy somewhere they have a galactic government and living on a planet is as simple as living in a different city on earth…with some amazing planets you can go on vacation too…milky way sucks

Guest

Norton Hardin Jr. very true. Yet it’s 2 million light years away so we wouldn’t see too many from there. It’s just to say that there are a vast amount in our galaxy alone, but the space between is why it’s not common to interact. Plus we’re in a quiet, suburban area of the Milky Way

Guest

Imagine how many there are in adromeda galaxy the closest galaxy to the milky way and its WAY bigger

Guest

Perhaps, Humanity is placed in a Galactic zoo.

Guest

With space being infinate it would not surprise me in the slightest if aliens haven’t already visited made themselves known to higher people that us commoners why the hell would they they are probably far more evolved than us we will never get past this state of being because of the way we are.

Guest

I get tired of reading stories about if we are alone in the universe.We all know,at least the majority of us, that we are not alone and never have been,period.

Guest

Arrogance makes many believe we are it in such a huge universe.

Guest

There are sadly still those who can’t seem to grasp that understanding

Guest

No evidence or signs of aliens lol, check the internet and google ufos lol.

Guest

With a billion or even a million year technology gap , UFOs could be landing invisibly . And walking amongst us invisibly . While {also} spending a “small” amount of time in girls’ shower & changing rooms .

Guest

You know all the Aliens the Media show are Bipedal similar to Man,I was in the Air Force as a Tactical Aviation Pilot we had briefings when we passed through different Solar Systems on what we might encounter Flying,They had us under a Gag Order for 4 year’s,Out of 136 different types of Alien species only 8 are Bipedal similar to Man,The rest is the real reason they have always to us Aliens don’t exist because if you see a real Alien it would horrifie you mass panic Global,JW

Guest

We dropped a Probe in one of Jupiter’s moons in the Ice is a Ocean alive and doing and doing well with Octopus and Squid type of life,This is the type of Alien species your going to encounter,Social media like TV don’t have a clue,A dangerous Creature that will blow your mind if NASA published a list of Different types of Alien species it would start mass panic Global,JW

Guest

Only 8 Bipedal similar to Man we’re we Briefed on everything else a Creature LOL the best description,Edward Snowden Hacked into NASA Computers and found this out a list of Extraterrestrial intelligence species,Mufon has the List,JW

Guest

Hmmmm. I thought there were many humanoid ET’s that many military’s were aware of. So it’s really only one species?

Guest

I’ve had a encounter here in kansas

Guest

Went too snap a pic and it was gone

Guest

I was driving on a country road and a silver cyclinder was about 300 feet up… Sorry about the delay went too eat lol

Guest

Tell…

Guest
Guest

We still know very little about our sorroundings in the Universe. Some people know about alien life though.

Guest

sometimes i think we were sent back in time or to a rather lonely dimension far from the hustle and bustle of the big city , a rather “rural” part of the galaxy ?

Guest

Would make sense with how destructive we are and how we can no longer evolve further than this because of the way we are.

Guest

The aliens exist or not. Anyone can tell me

Guest

Wow. How strange some say yes some say no.

Guest

They do the matter is, how close do you think they are some say we never saw one orhers say they already live amongst us

Guest

Wow. I like that pic of promethious movie. Of course. I wanna see alien.

Guest

The difference between our alien creators and us.

Guest

Definitely

Guest
all the talk the last week about finding a 2 Billion year old Nuclear reactor someplace on planet earth the only think i can come up with is if the Universe was Made and Designed by some other beings just like Millions of other planets or even Billions of other planets systems and quasars black holes and what eve else is out there is maybe to start of a chain reaction of rotation and gravity the spark of life maybe who ever put the planet here to start the chain reaction of life air water Magnetism gravity and everything needed… Read more »
Louis
Guest

Dr LaViolettes work is pertinent – “Decoding the Message of the Pulsars” – read about it on the books section of the etheric.com website.

My view – as we are in “basket case” mode right now – quarantine is the best logical explication for the so called ‘silence’.

Guest

it’s coming down

Guest

Nice graphic, prometheus, dna strand, etc… 🙂

Guest

This to me is Fiction, I am not quite, sure everything it is possible but, I do strongly believe in Existing Experiential Theory, that is being hear since Our History civilization and bless regards.

Guest

Yes, I believe that Aliens existed in our billion-years History civilization because , they wore they ones how took their DNA Cell from another planet, to spread and created, every living things, here on earth, to see if our planet would support life and so it did.

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