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The “Transcension Hypothesis” and the “Fermi Paradox”
John G. Messerly   Sep 5, 2016   Reason and Meaning  

John Smart, a colleague of mine in the Evolution, Cognition and Complexity Group, has advanced the transcension hypothesis. In Smart’s words:

The transcension hypothesis proposes that a universal process of evolutionary development guides all sufficiently advanced civilizations into what may be called “inner space,” a computationally optimal domain of increasingly dense, productive, miniaturized, and efficient scales of space, time, energy, and matter, and eventually, to a black-hole-like destination.

An important implications of the transcension hypothesis is as a possible explanation for the Fermi paradox—the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence for the existence of extraterrestrials along with high probability estimates given for their existence by the Drake equation. (I have previously written about the Fermi paradox here and here.)

What all of this means is that rather than exploring the outer space of the universe, advanced civilization explore their inner space and eventually disappear from our view. And this is why the SETI Institute hasn’t found evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence. This two-minute video explains this clearly.

While the transcension hypothesis is speculative, it is also quite reasonable. An implication of the hypothesis is that, if true, there is more to reality than we know. And this suggests the possibility that there may be better realities than our current one. Perhaps our descendants will escape to such realities and somehow bring us along, maybe by running ancestor simulation? Who knows. But one thing we can say for sure; much is hidden from our ape-like minds, and this should cause us to be humble.

John G. Messerly
John G. Messerly is an Affiliate Scholar of the IEET. He received his PhD in philosophy from St. Louis University in 1992. His most recent book is The Meaning of Life: Religious, Philosophical, Scientific, and Transhumanist Perspectives. He blogs daily on issues of philosophy, evolution, futurism and the meaning of life at his website:


Thank you for sharing the explanation of the transcension hypothesis.  Maybe we do not have to wait for 600 years after the technical singularity.  Every afternoon my 13-year-old son disappears with his iPad into the black hole of his bedroom and like Fermi, I am left wondering “where is everybody?” 
Gibran writes about children – “You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”  So I have given up trying to get them to watch TV and trying to look at the positive side of living a life within the circuits of a computer.  Well for one, it is cheaper than going out.  It saves a lot of fossil fuel and environmental degradation.  Who knows? – perhaps he is even learning something from interacting in his virtual worlds.  This could be the solution to the problem of poverty, environmental degradation and universal education.  And who knows? – maybe we have been looking for alien life in the wrong place and we will find them within these black holes.
There is another variation of the Fermi Paradox and the Simulation Argument.  Let’s suppose we made contact with Alien Intelligence who gave us the technology for AI, time travel, anti-gravity, eternal life etc. and we found that life just got too complex and creepy for our little brains.  So the kind Aliens showed us how we could create a simulation of 2016 that felt so real, that we could not believe it could be otherwise.  In the simulation of 2016 we could live more stable lives without the hassle of Alien life (Fermi Paradox solved) and be grounded with linear time.  Just an idea. 

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