The Great Silence

The more we learn about the universe, the more pressing becomes the question - where is everyone else? Why is this Great Silence out there? Are we truly alone?

One of the possible explanations is the Great Filter, the idea that basically life is abundant in the universe, but at some point some calamity inevitably reaps the budding civilization before it can go multi-planetary and multi-solar. And, based on the imminent climate disaster that we have brought upon ourselves, and the generic amount of nuclear weapons in the world, this could very well be the moment where the Great Filter reaps humanity.

But I started wondering - wouldn’t a culture that would know of its impeding doom at least try to warn others of the same path? Wouldn’t they spend an effort spending their last resources screaming at other nearby planets with high-powered radios, or sending slow spacecraft to other solar systems, just so that others would know they existed and that they would not do the same mistakes?

Wouldn’t we?

So, even with the Great Filter, it’s mysterious that nothing can be heard. A few possibilities come to mind:

  • We could be one of the first civilizations (within our local neighbourhood). So we should go a spread out now before the others catch up.
  • We’ve already passed most of the Great Filters, and we now have the technology to cope with the new ones (Yay!)
  • The typical Great Filter comes so abruptly that there’s little time to react. Like a stray asteroid. But in that case, the climate change wouldn’t be It.

I don’t know. Much smarter people than me have spent a lot of time thinking about this topic. But somehow this thought makes me feel better about everything - it suggests that as long as there’s time, we can cope with the issues at hand. If we were to die out, it would happen so fast that we wouldn’t really know about it.

But let’s still be on the lookout for those warning signals.




Comments

I like the answer by Charles Stross in Accelerando. In short: Advanced civilizations live in virtual worlds. Information transfer beyond core network is too slow to be worthwhile. All matter is turned into computronium... whee! Funky future vision.

--TK, 14-Sep-2015


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