Are we the lone sentient life in the universe? So far, we have no evidence to the contrary, and yet the odds suggest that this is highly improbable. There are an estimated 250 billion stars in the Milky Way and 70 sextillion in the visible universe, many, with multiple planets swirling around.
It seems impossible that only one planet has produced intelligent life. However, if other intelligent life forms exist, where are they? Given the age of the universe, and its vast number of stars, if planets like Earth are at all typical, then there should be thousands or millions of advanced ETs out there.
Forward thinkers believe the reasons for our inability to discover ETs could fall into three areas. A) We are the first intelligent beings capable of making our presence known and leaving our planet; B) other advanced civilizations exist, but they are undetectable by our technologies, and C) there have been others, but they all ran into a cosmic roadblock that destroyed them.
Of these choices, this writer sees B as the most probable. They could be roaming through the universe in huge numbers, but living their lives in a digital dimension, invisible to our eyes.
It is highly likely that our digital technologies; movies, TV, and Internet data, along with tomorrow’s nanotech-enhanced virtual reality systems could, at a future time, encourage humans to live a portion of their lives in a virtual reality digital dimension – a kind of Holodeck environment.
This trend could expand to the point where most humans would eventually prefer living a digital life permanently, without need for physical bodies. In fact, in this virtual wonderworld, there would be no requirement for matter of any kind. In an all digital existence, we would not even need a planet to hang our hat on.
If other advanced civilizations have taken this road, they could be out there, but undetectable by our technologies. However, as the future advances through the next two-to-three centuries, we might discover a cosmos filled with digital civilizations just waiting to welcome us into ‘The Federation’.
Could humanity one day adopt a digital dimension lifestyle without need for physical bodies, or any type of matter?
Stay tuned; this sci-fi-like scenario could become our future in the centuries ahead.
Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.
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