Friday, December 06, 2013

Who goes There?

The search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI) has so far come up empty. If anybody else is out there, they don't seem to be talking to us. Of course that's pretty understandable if they happen to be familiar with our history. Some early proponents of SETI, like Shklovsky, became disenchanted, convinced that all advanced civilizations would destroy themselves. That doesn't seem improbable, though the most likely means we see today is probably different than what would have been expected thirty years ago. We do seem pretty determined in destroying the capability of the planet to support human life.

Meanwhile, many of the factors in the famous Drake equation have become better understood and more encouraging. What we still don't know is the probability of life developing on an Earth-like planet (though a good guess is close to one), the probability of life developing advanced technology (almost entirely unconstrained, but the best guess might be that it take 3 billion years or so), or how long such a civilization would survive.

In any case, if those advanced civilizations are out there, they aren't talking to us - or at least to anybody except a few apparent nut cases.

It seems like a pretty pessimistic comment on our future.