Apr 14, 2024

New Solution To The Fermi Paradox Suggests The Great Filter Is Nearly Upon Us

Posted by in categories: alien life, existential risks

How optimistic.

First, a little background. With 200 billion trillion (ish) stars in the universe and 13.7 billion years that have elapsed since it all began, you might be wondering where all the alien civilizations are at. This is the basic question behind the Fermi paradox, the tension between our suspicions of the potential for life in the universe (given planets found in habitable zones, etc) and the fact that we have only found one planet with an intelligent (ish) species inhabiting it.

One solution, or at least a way of thinking about the problem, is known as the Great Filter. Proposed by Robin Hanson of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, the argument goes that given the lack of observed technologically advanced alien civilizations, there must be a great barrier to the development of life or civilization that prevents them from getting to a stage where they are making big, detectable impacts on their environment that we can witness from Earth.

There could be other reasons why we haven’t heard from aliens yet, ranging from us simply not listening for long enough (or not searching for the right signals from aliens, due to our technological immaturity) to aliens deliberately keeping us in a galactic zoo. But if the Great Filter idea is correct, we don’t know what point we are at along it.

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