Despite the discovery of thousands of exo-planets, we are very probably alone in the universe.
The universe is vast and full of potentially habitable planets and math says that at least some of them must have intelligent life, but as we can’t pin down exactly how life was created here on Earth, the process of abiogenesis, how do we make calculations for other planets? The Drake Equation is more at home in the Bible than in a science textbook. Faith in astrobiology?
There are 10 to the 23 planets in the observable universe. But chances are good that there are zero, if any, seriously advanced, space-faring civilizations out there. Certainly, none of them are using their stars as an energy source. And there’s the problem of the cosmic speed limit. If other civilizations exist, they are likely nearer our own technological level. At some point in the grand narrative of evolution and its narrative of genetic recombination and natural selection, the nature of consciousness begins to wrap around the pole of evolution and slow down, eventually coming to halt, like a tetherball run out of rope.
We are the victims of a period of rapid evolution over the past 200 years. We are two or three inches taller today then we were back then, but that doesn’t meant we will be 100 inches taller in 1000 years. It’s taken 7,000,000 years for our brains to triple in size. But that growth was necessary to our survival. Evolutionary adaptions are inspired by predations, anthropogenic disturbances, none of which will be a factor the higher we climb into the tree of technology. All that can be known is limited to the internalized representation and understanding of that knowledge. At some point, the lines run together. Human intelligence works on the order of abstraction and reduction.
If you want to think about it this way–think about how many different species of life have existed on earth since the beginning–over FIVE BILLION, 99% of which have gone extinct. And how many of those FIVE BILLION species evolved into the one dominant species on the planet? One. So life has started FIVE BILLION different times on Earth, so many different forms and combinations, but only one has been able to master the planet.
We don’t evolve at our pleasure, so what’s to say we haven’t already stopped evolving? There are no more genetic pressures pushing us forward. It’s become strictly novelty. We might make a few gains in life expectancy. Medicine will improve. But without that pressure, a life that lasts 150 years becomes equal to a life that lasts only 75 in quality. Evolution is a feedback loop. Yes, evolution happens by drift, gene flow, and mutation and I’m not suggestion we’ve reached a level of complete stasis.
Once evolution has two or more positive selection pressures, it cannot be changed. This means, we will always have two arms instead of three. Gravity will never pull something uphill, no matter how much we want it to.
In the case of an Elon Musk dream world where all biological entities eventually merge with machines–who cares? What’s exciting about that? A universe without mistakes is a dead universe.
But, the numbers are there and can’t be hidden. Yet there seems to be a relation between consciousness and evolution. That voice that says “I am” is the exact same in all seven billion of us. We come from the same source, it just appears that we are different.
Honestly, I wouldn’t give a dime to travel into space. I have no desire at all.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that disorder/entropy in the universe increases with time, as things get naturally more disordered and lose their symmetry.
We’re probably not the first, but we could be the only. At least for now.