• David Solman
    48
    As far as we know we are the only species in the universe that is very intelligent but let's look at the idea that the whole universe is littered with intelligent life forms much like our own and the possible impact that could have on the surrounding universe. we will also discuss whether or not intelligent life is a mistake with regards to the previous discussion.

    First of all we will look at ourselves as a representation of what intelligent life looks like and the damage we have caused our planet over the 5000 years since civilization. As technology advances we take more and more resources from the planet in order to build and grow as a species. The more the population grows, the more housing, resources and space are needed in order for people to live comfortably. Now the human population is reaching 7.5 billion and expected to reach a total of 9.7 billion by 2050, earths resources will be at a strain and we'll likely be mining and taking from planet mars to sustain a colony there. The effects that this is having on earth and the many many other species that live here with us is very damaging. According to the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) there are around 2 million species on earth and between 0.01% and 0.1% are going extinct every year, that's approximately between 200 and 2000. That is insane and can only be blamed on the presence of humans and our dis concern for the planets well-being and the animals living on it.

    Let's look at this on a much grander scale. It is said that intelligent life could have started in the universe around 4 billion years ago. Imagine for a moment an extremely intelligent alien species that has been alive for much longer than humans, a species that is able to interstellar travel, harness a stars energy completely and has colonized many worlds. If we take humans as a representation of intelligent life then the impact that this particular species would have on the universe around them would be catastrophic. If the human race is able to survive and become that advanced in the future then our planet is a good look at the path of destruction we would leave behind. As in order to advance technologically we would need to take natural resources in order to build what we would need.

    Now, here is the question that i pose, is intelligent life in the universe a mistake? It would seem with our understanding that the chance of a species becoming intelligent is very low considering that only one species in a planet of possibly 2 million is of great intelligence. And as we have already discussed, the repercussion of an intelligent species is very dangerous to an ecosystem. Judging by the fact that we are the only intelligent life we know of, we can look at ourselves as a good representation of this. There is another question that can support this, why is the chance of intelligent life so low? In the history of the whole planet only one species was able to become intelligent enough to dominate the whole planet, this is one in millions of species that have roamed the planet over millions of years, that is an extremely low percentage. So one could suggest this isn't a normal occurrence in the evolution of a species and taking into the account the damage they may leave in their progression, it could be seen as a mistake that we were able to grow into such intelligent creatures.

    This subject can be put to rest by saying that the universe is chaotic by nature and that intelligent life is just another destructive force in the universe but this just one theory but being self aware allows us to determine whether or not what we are doing is wrong and so we are able to choose our path whether or not it is ethical. You should take into account that the only way to progress technologically is to use resources taken from a natural resource like a planet or a moon, either way this could lead to a decline in an ecosystem and the possible chance of life or evolution in that location of the universe, which is exactly what we have witnessed in our own home planet, earth. This is not to say that it isn't possible for a species to grow into a peaceful race that cherishes and values the nature of their planet, only in order to progress, build and explore the universe there has to be a strain on that species resource.

    This raises the question again of what is consciousness? Is higher intelligence higher consciousness? Why do we have a higher consciousness than other living things on earth? Maybe we have a higher consciousness by mistake? What made this happen to our earlier ancestors? This post is to start a discussion, i understand that this poses more questions than answers but i wanted to start a discussion around this subject to see what other peoples opinions are on this subject.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.2k
    the damage we have caused our planet over the 5000 years since civilization.David Solman

    It is myopic to view the planet's last 5k years as a disaster. Over the last 4 billion years, the planet has been made, and destructively made over several times--not just geologically, but biologically as well. The fact of our mammalian existence owes quite a bit to the meteorite hitting the Yucatan peninsula, churning up and igniting the shallow petrochemical layer, adding a smoke component to the dust of the impact, all thrown up high into the atmosphere. Had that not happened, dinosaurs might have remained dominant for a lot longer, and we might not have had the opportunity to evolve.

    Remember, there were what, 5? near total extinction events before the present one.

    Imagine for a moment an extremely intelligent alien species that has been alive for much longer than humans, a species that is able to interstellar travel, harness a stars energy completely and has colonized many worlds.David Solman

    Your scenario produces vastly superior science fiction. Were all the intelligent alien species to be wise, peaceful vegetables that didn't move around much, fiction would be the poorer.

    On the other hand, our model -- ourselves -- haven't got very far towards fulfilling the dream of interstellar space travel. Given the facts you have mentioned about a population/food crunch, less accessible natural resources remaining... did you mention global warming?... and so forth, there is a very good chance that our space faring days may be very short lived -- a couple trips to a moon, maybe a trip or two to the next planet over, and that might very well be the end of it.

    Some have speculated that maybe highly intelligent civilizations are self-limiting. Maybe they tend to follow our model. Maybe they run out of resources before they can get too far away from the home planet. Escaping earth, and escaping the solar system, is probably not in the cards for us (unless a superior species comes along and gives us a boost.

    let's look at the idea that the whole universe is littered with intelligent life forms much like our own and the possible impact that could have on the surrounding universeDavid Solman

    You are quite correct that we are wrecking things: screwing up the atmosphere, spoiling a lot of beautiful places, using up mineral resources, overpopulating the planet, polluting, killing off the megafauna (and plants, and insects...) and so on. It's quite possible that every other smart alien in the universe is doing the same thing.

    But... bear in mind, we evolved to become what we are, and we weren't in charge of our own evolution. Humans do what we do, just like barnacles, termites, scorpions, snakes, and lions do what they do. We are what we are.

    Sure, we are an appalling species in many ways. I suspect we began being appalling a long time ago, more than 5, 10, or 20 thousand years ago.

    We can hope that we might turn things around. Personally, I don't think we will. I think we've kind of fucked ourselves. Maybe intelligence just isn't that great a thing (but... I like it, none the less).
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    Now, here is the question that i pose, is intelligent life in the universe a mistake?David Solman

    On whose part?
  • David Solman
    48
    Your scenario produces vastly superior science fiction.Bitter Crank

    This isn't that hard to believe that this scenario exists, i was only referring to our inevitable future, if you think about where our space evolution will end up, this is where it will be, given enough time and if we're able to get that far, i was only posing a fictional scenario to picture an image of our future selves to give insight to what kind of damage might be caused in the universe if we become that advanced giving the damage we have already caused the one planet we are on currently.

    We can hope that we might turn things aroundBitter Crank

    I do agree with you, i believe that we will run out of resources before we are able to get anywhere past mars and i don't think the colony on mars is likely to last more than a few decades if they are not able to grow and sustain themselves. With regards to my original post this may be a good thing.
  • Wirius
    9
    I would argue that the self-disruption of our planet and our environment is a lack of intelligence and foresight. It is the primal and animalistic parts of our brains that lead us to do very unintelligent things. Intelligence isn't just about being able to do something, its also about foreseeing the consequences, and wondering whether you should.
  • Joshs
    359
    I think there is no primal and animalistic part of our brains. Thinking is wholistic. Our predicaments are the product of our very best intelligence. That's just the price we pay for finite understanding.
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