An astronomer calculated that Earth's intelligent life is probably 'rare.'

  • 11 Replies
  • 455 Views
*

infurl

  • Trusty Member
  • *********
  • Terminator
  • *
  • 908
  • Humans will disappoint you.
    • Home Page
https://www.livescience.com/intelligent-life-rare-or-common-on-Earth.html

Quote
If we all got together and started Earth over, winding time back to the moment right after the land cooled from hot magma and giant meteor showers stopped devastating the planet, would life rise again on this planet? And would that life ever become intelligent?

There are some interesting points made in this article.

My favorite quote:
Quote
Astronomers in general ... tend to define intelligent life as "other astronomers" ⁠— species that might send radio signals into space, for example, and hunt for radio waves themselves.

The author of the paper referred to in the article has also published this video which explains the reasoning behind it. Even if you aren't happy with the conclusions, the mathematical process here is fascinating, especially as it has applications in artificial intelligence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLbbpRYRW5Y

*

frankinstien

  • Electric Dreamer
  • ****
  • 120
    • Knowledgeable Machines
One of the fascinating aspects of life is when you look at an animal, at least with large multicellular animals you usually can see why the animal is there. It either has big fangs, tough skin, massive muscles, night vision, immunities to poisons and diseases, and/or all of the above. But what about humans? Humans have soft skin, no fangs, muscle mass isn't the most competitive attribute against other animals. What's even more striking is that humans are bipedal, no other ape is bipedal.

If we look at the mini-chimpanzee, the Bonomo, we see atrophying of muscle mass and large fangs, why? Well Bonomos did something different in their evolution, they shifted their social dynamic to settle conflicts through sexual gratification. Imagine you're angry at a peer member, you want to tell them exactly what you think about them and how upset you are about what they say and do. As you approach the individual you're upset with you suddenly get an overwhelming urge to have sex with them. Ultimately you do and after all, is said and done you're no longer angry and you and this individual you had issues with are now willing to cooperate to resolve any issues!

Obviously, something in the Bonomo's brain wiring is different than what is seen in chimpanzees and even hominids. The results are manifested in the ape's physiology. Because of a change in brain wiring, perhaps some high degree of innervation from the Amadyla to the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), the thalamus, the parietal cortex and the hypothalamus where sexual arousal is produced, the ape can no longer fight, particularly a fight to the death, which is what we see in chimpanzees and hominids.

But how does this explain anything about humans? One of the biggest problems anthropologists face with human evolution is why are hominids bipedal? Some theories suggest tree scarcity is the cause because there are fewer trees to get from one tree to the next walking proved the better choice. Another theory is field of view because a bipedal animal has a better view of predators and prey it can avoid being eaten while at the same time find its prey very easily. But as I said earlier you can usually see why an animal exists in its environment, there's that feature or set of features that clearly explains why the animal is successful in its environment. So what could it be for humans, well most would say it's their big brains that give them the ability to solve problems more effectively and build tools. OK, but Astralopethicus has a brain the size of a chimp, yet all of its fangs, claws, and muscle mass paired down to something that could never compete with other animals. 

So what is it about Australopithecus that allowed it to not need the biological weaponry that other animals have, similarly to the Bonomo? Well, what about stone-throwing? Yes, it is seen in other primates and apes, but most do an underhand throw.  If you remember ever playing baseball or stone skimming the first thing you learn is you don't just use your arm to throw that stone, not if you want the highest velocity that you can throw it! So what does a child learn to do to get a stone to travel farther and faster? You learn to use your entire body to throw that stone. You use your legs, torso, arms, and wrist to throw that stone to get it to move a fast as you can possibly through it. If it weren't for hominids proportionally longer legs than other apes we couldn't really effectively through stones to velocities reaching over a 100 mph! Now when you look at the human body and realize that Australopithecus was very very similar in proportions then it hits you like a rock over the head!  Australopithecus was a stone-throwing ape that learned to use its entire body to throw the stone to get the highest velocity possible. This stone-throwing skill was used to hunt prey. Other animals inclusive of chimpanzees pounce their prey which takes a phenomenal amount of energy. Australopithecus can hunt by simply throwing a stone. This makes Australopithecus the most efficient hunter on the planet! It only takes a fraction of the energy to throw a stone as opposed to moving an entire body to chase prey. Not only that but it gives it the ability to take down prey at distances where the target prey would not find them to be a threat so the animals don't run away. Australopithecus is hunting small prey, not larger animals with stone-throwing.  Now bipedalism makes sense! The animal that could use its entire body to throw stones at high velocities gets more protein with the least effort where he/she has more time and resources to reproduce.

Now we can see why bipedalism took over in the hominid legacy and with so many efficient hunters most have more than enough protein to sustain their bodies and then some. Where in a chimpanzee society those with the most protein are the larger and stronger apes that rule the troop, but with Australopithecus, all have access to protein resources so it doesn't have the same impact in the social order of their societies. Because of the easy access to protein Australopithecus had to compete on a whole different level and that forum was social intelligence, now the game turned from the strongest ape in the jungle to the most charming ape in the jungle.

When looking at our own evolution it wasn't the biggest brained ape that managed to survive east Africa's hot Savana, it was a bipedal ape. And just as in the Bonomo where a brain wiring change led to a different social dynamic that then leads to smaller, less weaponized bodies, so too do we see that hominids by virtual of bipedalism led to more efficient hunting that forced a form of competition that favored less muscular and large fanged bodies to more socially adept individuals. Such social adeptness, at least in humans,  maybe due to the wiring of the Arcuate Fasciculus which interconnects frontal and temporal language areas. Chimpanzees have very few fibers in the Arcuate Fasciculus that extend to the superior temporal sulcus which is where word meaning is represented in human brains and Macaques do not have an Arcuate Fasciculus.  I'm asserting that  Australopithecus had a higher density of fibers interconnecting  Arcuate Fasciculus that extend to the superior temporal sulcus than chimpanzees or any other ape for that matter.

So what has this to do with finding intelligent life on other worlds? First and foremost is the emphasis for the criteria of what would re-enforce large brains? While I assert that it was due to bipedalism and a re-wiring of a brain other environments might favor a different path to sophisticated intelligent beings. So just by looking at our environment where such favoritism for large brains is rare and biological weaponry is the defacto standard, other worlds might not be so harsh for large brains. There might be worlds that favor large brains over biological weaponry or at least favor bigger brains more frequently...

*

infurl

  • Trusty Member
  • *********
  • Terminator
  • *
  • 908
  • Humans will disappoint you.
    • Home Page
So what has this to do with finding intelligent life on other worlds? First and foremost is the emphasis for the criteria of what would re-enforce large brains? While I assert that it was due to bipedalism and a re-wiring of a brain other environments might favor a different path to sophisticated intelligent beings. So just by looking at our environment where such favoritism for large brains is rare and biological weaponry is the defacto standard, other worlds might not be so harsh for large brains. There might be worlds that favor large brains over biological weaponry or at least favor bigger brains more frequently...

That was very interesting about bipedal creatures having the advantage of being able to hunt using projectiles. I haven't heard that idea before and it's something to think about. The only other creature that I've heard of that can do that is the archer fish.

One thing that anthropologists have come to realize in recent decades is the significance of cooking. Human beings are the only creatures that cook their food and it has had a major impact on our evolution. Since we use so much less energy for digestion, we have more energy to spare for thinking, much more than other creatures regardless of brain-size.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/food-for-thought-was-cooking-a-pivotal-step-in-human-evolution/

All that extra time spent thinking has culminated in our ability to harness external sources of energy to produce our food, in addition to using external sources of energy for digesting our food. Now we expend ten calories of energy for every calory of energy that we consume which would be impossible for any other form of life. All that extra energy has to come from somewhere and to date it has primarily come from fossil fuels used in agriculture and transportation. If we run out of oil before we have alternative sources of energy, most of humanity will starve to death.

At least for now, we can spend more time thinking than ever before.

*

LOCKSUIT

  • Emerged from nothing
  • Trusty Member
  • ******************
  • Hal 4000
  • *
  • 4202
  • First it wiggles, then it is rewarded.
    • Main Project Thread
For evolution on Earth, animals seem to regenerate/ heal wounds/ replace employees/ products/ missing data, etc. Molecules seem to chain together and attract like pairs. So why does a cell forming (one that can duplicate itself like a parrot) seem so unlikely? Maybe physics allows it to re-allocate or re-sort and "regenerate" from nothing, like it has already? I think so. I believe physics enables it (survival, or the ultimate machine at the end of Evolution (lookup T3000 scene)), and it isn't a rare thing to happen.

I agree with frankinstien in his last tedious/ taboo post above "Ultimately you do and after all, is said and done you're no longer angry and you and this individual you had issues with are now willing to cooperate to resolve any issues!". It's good to rustle this out and talk about it. :D When Bonobos (monkeys) are angry or upset or anxious, instead of harming the other person to correct them they have sex with them instead maybe? Possibly when they do something good or work together they would do that. Or what frankinstien said ya. Today, we are much more against sex though, why? We are very connected today, and caring and sharing, but not much in the sex department. Maybe if you don't know the person well they may be dangerous, we see it's not even allowed in underage humans who are not yet educated or able to defend themselves, but we do hang out with strangers outside in the public or stores, so that can't be the answer! Closed doors are not technically required. Perhaps they don't want to get pregnant, but sex isn't all about intercourse! Why no touchy?... We seem to stick to 1 mate too, why? Instead of replying "ew", can you explain to me why? There's some sort of mental stigma trained in them. To the point where they can feel like they've been "touched" even though nothing really harmful occurred and the person is no longer around as well, even by the opposite gender Oo.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 12:46:06 PM by LOCKSUIT »
Emergent

*

WriterOfMinds

  • Trusty Member
  • *******
  • Starship Trooper
  • *
  • 338
    • WriterOfMinds Blog
Quote
Closed doors are not technically required. Perhaps they don't want to get pregnant, but sex isn't all about intercourse! Why no touchy?... We seem to stick to 1 mate too, why? Instead of replying "ew", can you explain to me why?

Well, here's one possible explanation ...

Sex isn't just about physical pleasure; it's also about intimacy. It's a way of telling someone "you are very special to me" by inviting them to have contact with the most private parts of one's body.

In order for this to work, some parts of our bodies have to be private in the first place. The more people you allow to sleep with you or touch you, the less special it becomes for that one person you love best. You know how an original painting is more valuable than all of the copies because there's only one original? Sexual partnerships are similar. The more you have, the less each one is worth.

To a reduced degree, this can even apply to platonic forms of touching, like a hug or a pat on the back. I enjoy getting those from my friends. I don't like it when strangers or casual acquaintances touch me, even in a harmless, publicly acceptable sort of way. They don't have the right to be that intimate with me; I reserve that for my friends.

*

LOCKSUIT

  • Emerged from nothing
  • Trusty Member
  • ******************
  • Hal 4000
  • *
  • 4202
  • First it wiggles, then it is rewarded.
    • Main Project Thread
Quote
In order for this to work, some parts of our bodies have to be private in the first place.

It's more fun to explore things that are not allowed.

I prefer a variation of food. It never tastes repetitive (even when I don't have a variation). I like BBQ chips, plain, crinkle, popcorn nuggets, etc. I like to mix them in the same bowl and pour hot sauce over them. I usually get the nature's trail mix.

This is off-topic, sorry.
Emergent

*

frankinstien

  • Electric Dreamer
  • ****
  • 120
    • Knowledgeable Machines
Well, here's one possible explanation ...

Sex isn't just about physical pleasure; it's also about intimacy. It's a way of telling someone "you are very special to me" by inviting them to have contact with the most private parts of one's body.

In order for this to work, some parts of our bodies have to be private in the first place. The more people you allow to sleep with you or touch you, the less special it becomes for that one person you love best. You know how an original painting is more valuable than all of the copies because there's only one original? Sexual partnerships are similar. The more you have, the less each one is worth.

To a reduced degree, this can even apply to platonic forms of touching, like a hug or a pat on the back. I enjoy getting those from my friends. I don't like it when strangers or casual acquaintances touch me, even in a harmless, publicly acceptable sort of way. They don't have the right to be that intimate with me; I reserve that for my friends.

Of course, what you're describing is anthropomorphic, it's more of how our culture views sexual intercourse. In other cultures, this may not be the rule. Monogamy is a Hellenistic invention.  Marriage in tribal societies is more about alliance-building, not romance! So, arrange marriages of people happen even before they're born! The invention of marriage is interesting, it actually favors men and children. Where in most ape troops the knowledge of who is the father of an offspring is not known, nor does it need to be known since raising offspring is a community effort. But, from a perspective of troop hierarchy, a child inherits its status in society from its mother. So if an alpha male mated with a lower level female the child inherits the status of the mother, not the father.  With humans, the reverence for large prey like mammoths, rhinos, Moose, Bison, etc produced a focus on male hunters, where moving up the food chain of the tribe is a matter of skills and risk-taking that favored males.  If females are competing for the most skilled and successful male hunters then establishing a relationship where being exclusive to a male meant the father of the offspring would be known. So the character of a female is being judged by her loyalty and faithfulness to a male. This then realizes to the status of the offspring is no longer dependant on the mother. So with the status shift of the offspring the mothers then too benefit from a shift in status through the recognition of the offspring's father.  Interestingly enough this doesn't mean the male has to be monogamist with females and this is what is seen in the wild. Even when a society traditionally values and ritualizes monogamist marriages the male is allowed sexual encounters outside the marriage! Where the female is not allowed such a privilege and more often than not was/is executed for infidelity.  With marriage, while yes it did promote a focus on who is the father of offspring and allowed females to ascend to higher rankings within a society, it places a great deal of emphasis on male identities associating themselves to ownership of tools, women and eventually animals, and property. In other words, marriage leads to notions of slavery, where women are thought of as property.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2020, 05:51:57 AM by frankinstien »

*

ivan.moony

  • Trusty Member
  • ***********
  • Eve
  • *
  • 1436
    • contrast-zone
@F:
Praying mantises have a nice and acceptable mating politics. They know and show who the boss is, and should be. We should learn something from them.
There exist some rules interwoven within this world. As much as it is a blessing, so much it is a curse.

*

frankinstien

  • Electric Dreamer
  • ****
  • 120
    • Knowledgeable Machines
That was very interesting about bipedal creatures having the advantage of being able to hunt using projectiles. I haven't heard that idea before and it's something to think about. The only other creature that I've heard of that can do that is the archer fish.

This youtube video of the fish in action is interesting...

*

OllieGee

  • Nomad
  • ***
  • 51
    • The ultimate frequency blog
Very interesting thread and responses here.
But the very fact intelligent life HAS formed here is testement to how ingenious our species has become to take advantage of what was given to us.

*

LOCKSUIT

  • Emerged from nothing
  • Trusty Member
  • ******************
  • Hal 4000
  • *
  • 4202
  • First it wiggles, then it is rewarded.
    • Main Project Thread
Well, I wouldn't call if life, but intelligence.

Humans work well with little data. Because it has patterns. Your own brain has (to some degree) learnt a model of the whole universe, connecting different domains.

If patterns never existed, humans would not be able to stay alive. Life would be random soup.
Emergent

*

infurl

  • Trusty Member
  • *********
  • Terminator
  • *
  • 908
  • Humans will disappoint you.
    • Home Page
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4357/ab8225

Here's another thesis in a similar vein.

TL;DR Based on what we currently know there ought to be at least 36 other civilizations comparable to our own in this galaxy, but they're all too far away for there ever to be any possibility of communicating with them.

Quote
Abstract
We present a cosmic perspective on the search for life and examine the likely number of Communicating Extra-Terrestrial Intelligent (CETI) civilizations in our Galaxy by utilizing the latest astrophysical information. Our calculation involves Galactic star formation histories, metallicity distributions, and the likelihood of stars hosting Earth-like planets in their habitable zones, under specific assumptions which we describe as the Astrobiological Copernican Weak and Strong conditions. These assumptions are based on the one situation in which intelligent, communicative life is known to exist—on our own planet. This type of life has developed in a metal-rich environment and has taken roughly 5 Gyr to do so. We investigate the possible number of CETI civilizations based on different scenarios. At one extreme is the Weak Astrobiological Copernican scenario—such that a planet forms intelligent life sometime after 5 Gyr, but not earlier. The other is the Strong Astrobiological Copernican scenario in which life must form between 4.5 and 5.5 Gyr, as on Earth. In the Strong scenario (under the strictest set of assumptions), we find there should be at least ${36}_{-32}^{+175}$ civilizations within our Galaxy: this is a lower limit, based on the assumption that the average lifetime, L, of a communicating civilization is 100 yr (since we know that our own civilization has had radio communications for this time). If spread uniformly throughout the Galaxy this would imply that the nearest CETI is at most ${17,000}_{-10,000}^{+33,600}$ lt-yr away and most likely hosted by a low-mass M-dwarf star, likely far surpassing our ability to detect it for the foreseeable future, and making interstellar communication impossible. Furthermore, the likelihood that the host stars for this life are solar-type stars is extremely small and most would have to be M dwarfs, which may not be stable enough to host life over long timescales. We furthermore explore other scenarios and explain the likely number of CETI there are within the Galaxy based on variations of our assumptions.

 


Users Online

61 Guests, 1 User
Users active in past 15 minutes:
LOCKSUIT
[Trusty Member]

Most Online Today: 86. Most Online Ever: 340 (March 26, 2019, 09:47:57 PM)

Articles