A Plausible Calculation of the Extreme Improbability of Intelligent Life?

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This study, discussed here, using Bayesian statististical methods, comes to the same conclusions as have been found by several other scientists, and as described in several books such as Rare Earth and The Privileged Planet. These conclusions would indicate the answer to the Fermi Paradox is that life is very rare and intelligent life is much more, exceedingly, rare, even to the point that we may be the only intelligent life in the Milky Way galaxy. Along with these conclusions come a number of implications for the real nature of UFOs, evolution and other areas. For instance, for UFOs that very much appear to be somebody else's hardware vehicles, that may be the case but they apparently are probably not from other planets in our Universe, instead they must be something even more extraordinary - perhaps time travelers from our own future or ultraterrestrials from other parallel universes or dimensional realms. The ETH (extraterrestrial hypothesis) has seemed the most plausible concept for UFOs, but maybe not, after all.       


Quote:It is unknown how abundant extraterrestrial life is, or whether such life might be complex or intelligent. On Earth, the emergence of complex intelligent life required a preceding series of evolutionary transitions such as abiogenesis, eukaryogenesis, and the evolution of sexual reproduction, multicellularity, and intelligence itself. Some of these transitions could have been extraordinarily improbable, even in conducive environments. The emergence of intelligent life late in Earth's lifetime is thought to be evidence for a handful of rare evolutionary transitions, but the timing of other evolutionary transitions in the fossil record is yet to be analyzed in a similar framework. Using a simplified Bayesian model that combines uninformative priors and the timing of evolutionary transitions, we demonstrate that expected evolutionary transition times likely exceed the lifetime of Earth, perhaps by many orders of magnitude. Our results corroborate the original argument suggested by Brandon Carter that intelligent life in the Universe is exceptionally rare, assuming that intelligent life elsewhere requires analogous evolutionary transitions. Arriving at the opposite conclusion would require exceptionally conservative priors, evidence for much earlier transitions, multiple instances of transitions, or an alternative model that can explain why evolutionary transitions took hundreds of millions of years without appealing to rare chance events. Although the model is simple, it provides an initial basis for evaluating how varying biological assumptions and fossil record data impact the probability of evolving intelligent life, and also provides a number of testable predictions, such as that some biological paradoxes will remain unresolved and that planets orbiting M dwarf stars are uninhabitable.


Quote:It took approximately 4.5 billion years for a series of evolutionary transitions resulting in intelligent life to unfold on Earth. In another billion years, the increasing luminosity of the Sun will make Earth uninhabitable for complex life. Intelligence therefore emerged late in Earth's lifetime. Together with the dispersed timing of key evolutionary transitions and plausible priors, one can conclude that the expected transition times likely exceed the lifetime of Earth, perhaps by many orders of magnitude. In turn, this suggests that intelligent life is likely to be exceptionally rare. Arriving at an alternative conclusion would require either exceptionally conservative priors, finding additional instances of evolutionary transitions, or adopting an alternative model that can explain why evolutionary transitions took so long on Earth without appealing to rare stochastic occurrences. The model provides a number of other testable predictions, including that M dwarf stars are uninhabitable, that many biological paradoxes will remain unsolved without allowing for extremely unlikely events, and that, counterintuitively, we might be slightly more likely to find simple life on Mars.
(This post was last modified: 2020-11-27, 01:06 AM by nbtruthman.)
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