[ExI] Silence in the sky-but why?

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Fri Aug 30 17:20:06 UTC 2013

On Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 5:11 PM, Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> wrote:

> Now, I am all happy with saying intelligent life might be rare. But given
> the growth of cephalization on Earth and the fact that there are several
> species that show a not insignificant problem-solving capability that could
> perhaps evolve into true intelligence in a few ten million years, it seems
> hard to argue that the step from life to intelligence is *that* low
> probability.

Of course it's hard to draw conclusions from just one example but it's
possible that the probability of intelligent life evolving is
astronomically low, by astronomical I mean biology may be able to come up
with numbers just as big (or small) as astronomy can. By "intelligent life"
I mean something smart enough to make tools to make tools, and by that
criteria intelligent life happened just once on planet Earth, and very very
recently too.

Flight evolved independently at least 4 times in insects, birds, bats, and
pterosaurs; and the eye evolved independently dozens of times, but
intelligence only happened once. And it took 4 1/2 billion years to go from
the beginning of the sun and of the earth to intelligence, if it had taken
just 800 million years longer intelligent beings would be getting started
just when life of any sort would no longer be possible on the earth because
the sun would be getting off the main sequence.

Some say starting life must be pretty easy because on earth the first life
appeared just a few hundred million years after the earth did, but the
people saying that are from a planet that produced intelligence, it could
be astronomically unlikely for life to start so quickly but if it didn't
there would be no hope of producing intelligent life. And it could be
equally unlikely to evolve Eukaryote cells from Prokaryote cells, or
multicellular creatures from single Eukaryote cells. And if an asteroid
hadn't hit the earth 66 million years ago the human race would not be here,
maybe dinosaurs would have gotten smart and be programing computers today,
but I doubt it.

On the other hand maybe intelligence is common but self limiting, if it is
it's probably because it obtains access to its emotional control panel. If
so then the end result of intelligence is always exactly the same no matter
where it springs up, a billion year long orgasm.

  John K Clark
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