Sixty-plus years ago, a physicist by the name of Enrico Fermi postulated that, unless the evolution of life was unique to Earth, there should be many advanced species out there. If this is true, why haven’t we detected them or they made contact? This is known as ‘Fermi’s Paradox’.
Adrian Kent of the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo (Ontario, Canada) thinks he may have figured out the solution by applying Darwinian principles. As Mark Buchanan reports over at NewScientist:
“[Kent] argues that it’s plausible that there is a competition for resources on a cosmic scale, driving an evolutionary process between alien species on different planets. Advanced species, for example, might want to exploit other planets for their own purposes.
If so, the universe would be a violent place, and evolutionary selection may favour the inconspicuous -– those who lie low on purpose, or who simply lack the skill or ambition to venture forth or advertise their existence.”
In other words, Nature selects for cowardice, pacifism, laziness, and stupidity. (OK, that might be a bit harsh.)
I have two questions for Kent:
1) If natural selection favors the non-aggressive races, why hasn’t aggression been “selected out”? Why are there still aggressive alien races?
2) Why don’t we detect or get contacted by the more aggressive aliens? Even if some go extinct (‘cuz they kill each other off), they’re still flying around out there, fighting and making noise, right?
If Kent is correct, then shouldn’t we halt all efforts to contact aliens? Wouldn’t such a civilization be able to easily kick our butts (e.g., Independence Day, Skyline, Mars Attacks!)? Kent himself admits:
“The hyper-advanced aliens might not have to send their interstellar battle fleet to conquer Earth,” he notes. “It might only take three bored undergraduate aliens with borrowed lab equipment.”
Good thing I don’t put much stock in either the “power” of Darwinian natural selection or the likelihood of advanced alien life — even if I am a sci-fi geek. Come to think of it, that is science fiction!