IEET > Vision > Contributors > HealthLongevity > Dick Pelletier > Futurism
Are we alone? Probably not, but are we looking in the right place?
Dick Pelletier   Feb 18, 2013   Ethical Technology  

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.


John Smart’s STEM compression hypothesis strikes me as most plausible.

A possible reason why intelligent life has not discovered us is this: interstellar/intergalactic travel within a reasonable amount of time is impossible. With the immense void separating our solar system from potential planets in our local neighborhood and beyond, maybe superluminal travel or travel close to the speed of light is a universal road block. Thus, we are isolated in our own remote parts of the universe. I truly hope that this is not the case, but its something to take into consideration.

Virtual reality and a digital world is possible and probably likely however this does not explain every civilization.  It only takes one to not choose that path.  The number of civilizations would have an effect too.  They could also submerge in the digital world and explore the Universe.  A species to reach civilization status, you would think would have evolutionary history of curiosity and exploration. 

As David Brin has said perhaps they are all water worlds with sea life or science and democracy is rare. I’ll try to rephrase what he said. One of the possible answers to the fermi paradox is most civilizations have the same darwinian dynamic as us: top down Oligarchy, hyper conservative and repress scientific advancement. This is the standard human situation throughout most of history.  The enlightenment to now is a short time of history and there is no guarantee we will retain this type of society of science and democracy.  (history and progress is not linear) We may be the exception to build star ships if we choose too. What a responsibility.

Both of the ideas are highly possible. I really like the Darwinian dynamic answer.  They too will have an evolutionary history and perhaps they are all just roaming around their planet like us, with some having low-planet orbit stations and satellites.

Hopefully they are on their way. It just seems if advanced civilizations are common and long lived, we would have seen some evidence of just one. Maybe there is only one advanced civilization per galaxy. Who knows. There are so many explanations and theories that have merit. It is an important question. Actually it’s the most important question of all. It can provide insight into our future and if we are truly alone, all the more responsibility to be a multi-planetary transhuman species. Spread life throughout the Universe should be ultimate goal.  is another interesting theory.

Forget speed-of-light barriers. In an all digital life, instant appearance anywhere in our universe, or to other universes may be possible.

We would only be limited by our imagination; and with tomorrow’s artificial inteleligence to kick off this science fiction-like era, our thoughts could get wild.

I suspect that the real polysapient party is happening in hyperspace, with a de facto “you must be this intelligent” sign posted to get in. Why would they want to contact such an insufferably primitive and stupid species as us, in our current state? We have nothing we could offer them, and it’s probably unethical for them to tamper with us in our current state anyway. For them to intervene would be to taint us with their influence and thus deprive the multiverse of the unique perspective we would have provided had we been allowed to develop on our own terms, such provision being the ultimate purpose of our existence.

Many physicists believe that we live in a ‘quantum’ multiverse, where events such as, simultaneous existence in multiple locations, wormholes that connect vast regions of our cosmos, traveling through time, and hooking up to other universes; all seem very possible.

In this ‘magic-like’ realm, the chances of our living a digital existence without need for matter of any kind seems like a distinct possibility to this positive futurist.

Will humanity’s future unfold in this weird, radical way? Time will tell.

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