I was recently reading on the Fermi Paradox. An excellent layman’s overview can be found here. The premise is that within the vast expanse of our galaxy, to say nothing of the universe, the sheer weight of numbers demand there to be life; intelligent life; more intelligent life than our own. And yet, UFO abductees aside, there is no positive indication of it. So where are Chewbacca and Jabba the Hut? Where is the extraterrestrial Star Wars cantina?
That they apparently don’t exist suggests a “Great Filter” which catches a near totality of life forms, and those environments conducive to life formation, before any advance to a capacity for interstellar travel. Of course this hinges upon a Great Premise: the assumption that we are in possession of either the technical or cognitive tools necessary to ascertain whether advanced life is in our vicinity.
But to proceed from that, why no undocumented xenomorphs just looking to make a better life in America by injecting their explosive reproductive pods into our gastro-intestinal tract? The linked article offers the following possibilities (from which I will liberally quote and paraphrase).
The Great Filter theory posits that at some point from pre-life to galaxy-consuming hyper-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.
If this theory is true, the big question is, Where in the timeline does the Great Filter occur?
It turns out that when it comes to the fate of humankind, this question is very important. Depending on where The Great Filter occurs, we’re left with three possible realities:
* We’re rare. Life almost never occurs. The GF is behind us by way of simply being here.
* We’re the first civilization to advance this far, or
* We’re fucked. The GF is ahead of us. Lots of others have been where we now are. And like them, we ain’t getting through.
Now some reasons why The Great Premise might be wrong.
1) Super-intelligent life could very well have already visited Earth, but before we were here.
2) The galaxy has been colonized, but we just live in some desolate rural area of the galaxy.
3) The entire concept of physical colonization is a hilariously backward concept to a more advanced species. They’ve created and live within their own virtual Utopias.
4) There are scary predator civilizations out there, and most intelligent life knows better than to broadcast any outgoing signals and advertise their location. This is obviously fear-mongering and advanced xenophobic hate speech.
5) There’s only one instance of higher-intelligent life—a “superpredator” civilization (like humans are here on Earth)—who is far more advanced than everyone else and keeps it that way by exterminating any intelligent civilization once they get past a certain level.
6) There’s plenty of activity and noise out there, but our technology is too primitive and we’re listening for the wrong things.
7) We are receiving contact from other intelligent life, but the government is hiding it.
8) Higher civilizations are aware of us and observing us (AKA the “Zoo Hypothesis”).
9) Higher civilizations are here, all around us. But we’re too primitive to perceive them.
10) We’re completely wrong about our reality. The universe might appear one way and be something else entirely, like a hologram. Or maybe we’re the aliens and we were planted here as an experiment or as a form of fertilizer. There’s even a chance that we’re all part of a computer simulation by some researcher from another world, and aliens weren’t programmed in.
As an aside, the author of the linked article found only #7 to be completely ridiculous. More so than #10 apparently.
These are all fascinating possibilities to while away the cognitive cycles pondering. My own intuition aligns mostly with #6 and #9. If there are advanced beings flouncing across the Galaxy, I rather doubt we are any more capable of detecting or communicating with them than are the occupants of a termite mound to the humans only a 100 yards away. Though I’m equally amenable to the notion that life simply doesn’t happen, and we are the results of a one in quintillion chance. Finding extraterrestrial microbes would obviously eliminate one of those.
And this brings us to the Concern Paradox. Something formidable minds studying the Fermi have possibly never considered. Why is it that a great civilization, such as the Etruscans for instance, display absolutely zero concern for issues such as the Fermi Paradox? This despite being highly intelligent and as advanced for their time as any other?
A logical extrapolation suggests that Etruscan intellectuals should now be posing the exact, or even more enlightened, queries as those you read above. Yet from them we hear nothing but silence. Which requires we ask the question…Where are they? Strangely not even visits to their bustling necropoles were able to solve the riddle. The Etruscans are wholly indifferent to all implications of the Great Filter.
And not only that. They display immovable stoicism when confronted by both climate change and white privilege. Their intellectual progress stunted as if dead. That is the Concern Paradox. Intelligent advanced civilizations that simply cease pursuing critical abstractions. Many possible reasons have been suggested; readers here likely have their own. Though if the Etruscan Great Filter still lies ahead of us, it would indeed be cause for grave concern. And not a paradoxical one.