The Fermi Paradox
by Tim Urban
I highly suggest consuming the full piece here (20 min. read time)
“There’s something called The Kardashev Scale, which helps us group intelligent civilizations into three broad categories by the amount of energy they use:
Type I Civilization: has the ability to use all of the energy on their planet. We’re not quite a Type I Civilization, but we’re close.
Type II Civilization: can harness all of the energy of their host star.
Type III Civilization: blows the other two away, accessing power comparable to that of the entire Milky Way galaxy.” — Tim Urban
“The Great Filter theory says that at some point from pre-life to Type III intelligence, there’s a wall that all or nearly all attempts at life hit. There’s some stage in that long evolutionary process that is extremely unlikely or impossible for life to get beyond. That stage is The Great Filter.” — Tim Urban
Depending on when The Great Filter occurred, humankind is either really rare (The Great Filter is behind us), first (The Great Filter is not behind us and we’re one of the first super-intelligent civilizations), or totally screwed (aka “…life regularly evolves to where we are, but that something prevents life from going much further and reaching high intelligence in almost all cases—and we’re unlikely to be an exception.”) — Tim Urban
Tim goes on to list 10 different reasons why Type II and III civilizations are out there and why we might not have heard from them.
- Super-intelligent life could very well have already visited Earth, but before we were here.
- The galaxy has been colonized, but we just live in some desolate rural area of the galaxy.
- The entire concept of physical colonization is a hilariously backward concept to a more advanced species.
- There are scary predator civilizations out there, and most intelligent life knows better than to broadcast any outgoing signals and advertise their location.
- There’s only one instance of higher-intelligent life—a “superpredator” civilization (like humans are here on Earth)—that is far more advanced than everyone else and keeps it that way by exterminating any intelligent civilization once they get past a certain level.
- There’s plenty of activity and noise out there, but our technology is too primitive and we’re listening for the wrong things.
- We are receiving contact from other intelligent life, but the government is hiding it.
- Higher civilizations are aware of us and observing us (AKA the “Zoo Hypothesis”).
- Higher civilizations are here, all around us. But we’re too primitive to perceive them.
- We’re completely wrong about our reality.
My two cents: I keep seeing more and more about The Fermi Paradox. For someone who had no prior knowledge of what it was, this essay does a good job of explaining not only what it is, but why it’s important in the broader context of what we know/are as humans. Buckle up for this one!
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