The Alien Observatory –The Search for Human-like Intelligence: “Extremely Rare or Common in the Milky Way?” (WATCH Video)

 

MK88-610w (1)

 

"We should not expect to see any other forms of life that are genetically, functionally and intellectually similar to us." says Charles Lineweaver, a noted astrobiologist at the Australian National University. "I strongly suspect that our closest relatives in the universe are here on Earth, and they're not likely to be elsewhere. Only one species of the billions of species that have existed on Earth has shown an aptitude for radios, and even we failed to build one during the first 99% of our 7 million year history."


Lineweaver believes that the "Planet of the Apes Hypothesis" -a theory subscribed to by Carl Sagan and scientists involved with the SETI, that human-like intelligence is a convergent feature of evolution -that there is an intelligence niche, into which other species will evolve if the human species goes extinct is based on a flawed notion of evolution, a notion that could have serious implications for our search for intelligent life elsewhere in the Milky Way Galaxy

 

Lineweaver emphasizes that the "Planet of the Apes" hypothesis is that "such a niche exists – that human beings developed a big brain because there was selection pressure to move into this evolutionary niche. Another way of saying it is that smart organisms are better off and more fit than stupider organisms in all kinds of environments, and therefore we should expect any type of critters anywhere in the universe to get smarter like we consider ourselves to be."

 

Carl Sagan called them "functionally equivalent humans." That's what the SETI program has been based on. There is a big polarization in science between physical scientists like Paul Davies and Carl Sagan and Frank Drake on the one hand, and biologists like Ernst Mayr and George Gaylord Simpson who say that life is so quirky that human beings would never evolve again. If a species goes extinct, it doesn't come back. There may be a niche that opens when a species goes extinct, but the same species or even anything similar to it does not re-evolve into that niche.

If intelligence is good for every environment, we would see a trend in the encephalization quotient among all organisms as a function of time. The data does not show that. The evidence on Earth points to exactly the opposite conclusion. Earth had independent experiments in evolution thanks to continental drift. New Zealand, Madagascar, India, South America… half a dozen experiments over 10, 20, 50, even 100 million years of independent evolution did not produce anything that was more human-like than when it started. So it's a silly idea to think that species will evolve toward us."

If you go to these other continents and ask zoologists, observed Lineweaver, "What do you think is the smartest thing there? Is it trying to become human? Is it any closer today than it was 50 million years ago to building a radio telescope? I think the answer would be no. If that's the answer, then there is no trend toward human-like intelligence, and this whole idea of intelligence being convergent is just an empty claim based on what we want to believe about ourselves. Only one species of the billions of species that have existed on Earth has shown an aptitude for radios and even we failed to build one during the first 99% of our 7 million year history."

Current estimates say that are some 100 billion stars just in our Milky Way galaxy and 10 billion trillion stars in the observable universe.There are more stars in existence than days since the universe was formed.Yet, the deafening silence from space is not surprising. There must be other radio transmitters out there, but perhaps none in our galaxy. If homo sapiens survive long enough, time will tell.

Seems that NASA read Lineweaver's interview: their searches have been reconfigured to explore for non-carbon forms of life and the totally unknown.

The Daily Galaxy via Astrobio.net and spacedaily.com

Image credit: With thanks to Fred Espenak and Astopixels.com 

 

 

"The Galaxy" in Your Inbox, Free, Daily