Why Alien Life Would be our Doom - The Great Filter

Why Alien Life Would be our Doom - The Great Filter

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imagine NASA announced today that they found aliens bacteria on Mars weird alien fish in the oceans of Europa and also ancient alien ruins on Titan wouldn't that be great well no it would be horrible news devastating even it could mean that the end of humanity is almost certain and that it might be coming soon why white would the most exciting discovery of our lifetime be
00:29
bad let us imagine the development of life from its inception to us today as a flight of stairs the first step is dead chemistry that needs to assemble itself into self-replicating patterns stable and resilient but also able to change and evolve the second step is for our early life to become more complex able to build more complicated structures and use the available energy much more efficiently on the next step these cells
01:07
combine to become multicellular beings enabling unbelievable variety and further complexity the step above sees the species evolve big brains enabling the use of tools culture and shared knowledge which creates even higher complexity the species can now become the dominant life-form on its planet and change it according to its needs first of shai attempts to leave its planets are happening this is where we are now it's in the nature of life as we know it
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to reach out to cover every Lygia can and since planets have a limited carrying capacity and life span if a species wants to survive it will look for more places to spread to so the steps above the current ones seem logical colonize your own solar system then spread further to reach other stars to the possible final step become galaxy-wide civilization it's very likely that this is a universal principle for civilizations no matter where they're from if a species is
02:10
competitive and drivel enough to take control over its planet they'll probably not stop there we know that there are up to 500 billion planets in the Milky Way at least 10 billion earth-like planets many have been around billions of years longer than earth but we're observing zero Galactic Civilizations we should be able to see something but there's nothing space seems to be empty and dead this means something is preventing living things from climbing the
02:41
staircase beyond the step we're on right now something that makes becoming a galactic civilization extremely hard maybe impossible this is the great filter a challenge or danger so hard to overcome that it eliminates almost every species that encounters it there are two scenarios one means we are incredibly special and lucky the other one means we aren't doomed and practically already
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dead it depends on whether filter is on our staircase behind or ahead of us scenario one the filter is behind us we are the first if the filter is behind us that means that one of the steps we passed is almost impossible to take which step could it be is life itself extremely rare it's very hard to make predictions about how likely it is for life to emerge from death things there is no consensus some
03:43
scientists think it develops everywhere where the conditions are right others think that earth might be the only living place in the universe another candidate is the step of complex animal cells a very specific thing happened on this step and as far as we know it happened exactly once a primitive hunter cells swallowed another cell but instead of devouring it the two cells formed a union the bigger cell provided shelter took care of interacting with the environment and providing resources
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while the smaller one used its new home and free stuff to focus on providing a lot of extra energy for its host with the abundant energy the host cell could grow more than before and build new and expensive things to improve itself while the guest became the powerhouse of the cell these cells make up every animal on the planet maybe there are billions of bacteria covered planets in the Milky Way but not a single one apart from us has achieved our level of complexity or
04:46
intelligence we humans feel very smart and sophisticated with our crossword puzzles and romantic novels but a big brain is first and foremost a very expensive evolutionary investment they are fragile they don't help in a fistfight with a bath they cost enormous amounts of energy and despite them it took modern humans 200,000 years to get from sharp sticks to civilization being smart does not mean you get to win automatically maybe intelligence is just not so great and we're lucky that it
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worked out for us scenario two the filter is ahead of us plenty of others died already a great filter before us is orders of magnitude more dangerous than anything we encountered so far even if a major disaster killed most of us or threw us back thousands of years we would survive and recover and if we can recover even if it takes a million years then it's not a great filter but just a roadblock to an eventual galactic civilization on universal timescales
05:48
even millions of years adjust the blink of an eye if a great filter really lies before us it has to be so dangerous so purely devastating and powerful that it has destroyed most if not all advanced civilizations in our galaxy over billions of years a really daunting and depressing hypothesis is that once a species takes control over its planet it's already on the path to self-destruction technology is a good way to achieve that it needs to be
06:20
something that's so obvious that virtually everybody discovers it and so dangerous that its discovery leads almost universally to an existential disaster a large-scale nuclear war nanotechnology that gets out of control genetic engineering of the perfect super bug an experiment that lights the whole atmosphere on fire it might be a super intelligent AI that accidentally or purposely destroys its creators all things that we can't even see coming
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right now or it's way simpler speech is competitive enough to take over their planet necessarily destroy it while competing with each other for resources maybe there aren't runaway chain reactions in every ecosystem that once set in motion are not fixable and so once a civilization is powerful enough to change the composition of its atmosphere they make their planet uninhabitable 100% of the time let's hope that that's not the case if the
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filter is ahead of us our odds are really bad what we can hope for this is why finding life beyond Earth would be horrible the more common life is in the universe and the more advanced and complex it is the more likely it becomes that a filter is in front of us bacteria would be bad small animals would be worse intelligent life would be alarmist ruins of ancient alien civilizations would be horrible the best
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case scenario for us right now is that Mars is sterile that Europa's oceans are devoid of life and the vast arms of the Milky Way Harbor only empty oceans hugging dead continents that there are billions of empty planets waiting to be discovered and to be filled out with life billions of new homes waiting for us to finally arrive how likely is it that we'll find life outside of Earth
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that is similar to us well that depends on how many planets there are out there in their stars Goldilocks zone the area around a star where water can be liquid because stars come in all sizes and configurations this zone is different for every star system and requires a little bit of physics to figure out if that sounds like fun to you this quiz from brilliant helps to break down the maths for exactly how this is calculated brilliant is a problem-solving website that teaches you to think like a
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scientist by guiding you through problems they take concepts like these break them up into bite-sized bits present clear thinking in each part and then build back up to an interesting conclusion if you visit brilliant org slash nutshell or click the link in the description you can sign up for free and learn all kinds of things and as a bonus for Cortazar viewers the first 688 people will also get 20% off their and your membership and if you do find life
09:24
on our planet it may be wise to leave them alone for a while

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