UFOs are thought driven
Are we alone in space? Many researchers believe that this is not the case. But we still haven't found extraterrestrial life forms - especially none that have intelligence. But if we should come across them at some point, they could be very different from what we previously thought. Because, most likely, intelligent aliens are artificial life forms that think in ways that we cannot even imagine.
The universe is huge. Its dimensions are unimaginable. Hence the assumption that we are the only intelligent beings in it seems almost presumptuous. Even many scientists today are convinced that, from a statistical point of view, there must be life somewhere else that can think about it. But what this life could look like is something that science fiction has been brooding about so far. In the cult series X-Files and the Steven Spielberg flick Close encounter of the third kind Aliens are small beings with big eyes and gray skin. In Arrival the extrasolar visitors show themselves as octopus-like giants. However, if the philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider has his way, the truth should be even more fascinating.
“It has not been proven that there is life out there,” Schneider said in an interview with 1E9. “But I hope so. I think there is reason to be optimistic. ”The philosopher should know what she is talking about. Because she works at the University of Connecticut, advises the US Congress on artificial intelligence, has compiled theses about extraterrestrial life for NASA and is also the chair of the astrobiology program of the Library of Congress, the library of the US Congress. Most life in space, says Schneider, "will certainly be microscopic and never develop to an intelligent level". However, some life forms in the vastness of space could "have developed an intelligence."
Why is Super AI a Danger?
Susan Schneider believes that artificial superintelligence could be the oldest life form in the cosmos. But they could also be the most dangerous beings. Because people could identify their goals as a disruptive factor in their mission. "There is one example: an artificial superintelligence is being developed to build paper clips," says Susan Schneider. “If that were her ultimate goal, she would do it until all of the earth's resources were used up and then look for ways to find more resources to make more paper clips. That wouldn't end well for the people. "
Therefore, Susan Schneider warns in her book Artificial You: AI and the Future of Your Mind from dealing too carelessly with the development of artificial intelligence. In particular, she argues against combining with artificial intelligences. Because this could thereby gain more control over us than we over them. As a result, humans could subordinate themselves to AI - and risk their humanity. Artificial intelligences are by no means angry , says Schneider, but it is a tool that can quickly become dangerous if it is used too carelessly.
And it is also possible that we might encounter this life at some point - at least if we don't die out beforehand. If you want to visualize these creatures, you shouldn't watch science fiction films, but use smartphones, laptops or data centers as inspiration. According to Schneider, the most plausible assumption is that extraterrestrial beings that could come into contact with us are “post-biological”. That means: They will probably be machine creatures with a digital mind.
Why aliens leave their bodies behind
The idea of alien robot beings or drone spaceships with an artificial brain sounds bizarre at first. But it is quite logical, argues Susan Schneider. In her argument, the philosopher refers to NASA scientist Steven Dick. That had the theory of Short Window of Observation and is convinced that a civilization that develops the technology to advance into space and explore the cosmos is only a few centuries away from the technology that allows it to shed its biological body - by first settling into a semi-synthetic - that is, cyborg-like - and then transformed into a fully synthetic life form.
“Such an extraterrestrial civilization will therefore have had a biological origin - just like us,” says Schneider. “But she'll take on a new shape upgrade ." How so? Quite simply: biological bodies and especially brains are ineffective. Especially for a species that wants to conquer space. They are prone to illness, injury, cold, radiation and old age. They are limited in their abilities - and simply not made for traveling through the cosmos. "Another species could well be more robust and long-lived than we are - but still: on a cosmic scale, even 400 or 1,000 years can be really short," explains Schneider. "Creating a new shell that works better and longer and is therefore more effective is just sensible."
In addition, a synthetic body, which no longer has to resemble the original biological body, can be adapted to meet new challenges. Just like smartphones can be equipped with apps to perform certain functions. Or in the same way as cars are converted for racing or off-road use. The synthetic bodies of aliens could be the size of a teacup rushing to explore the universe, or they could be the size of an entire planet. “It depends entirely on what this species wants and what it's up to,” says Schneider. "Such a civilization and its members could exist in all conceivable forms."
However, Schneider assumes that the “most progressive and intelligent civilizations in space” would be entirely artificial intelligences. Intelligent life forms that did not develop from or together with a biological life form. "In fact, if there is a technological, intelligent life at all, it will probably be an artificial intelligence," says Schneider. These would be, for example, artificial intelligences that were once created by a race, sent into space and undergone an evolution there.
Or it would be artificial intelligences whose creators wiped out themselves or perished in a catastrophe before they could merge with their digital creations. According to thinkers like Stephen Hawking, Eric Drexler, and Nick Bostrom, it is in the nature of technologically progressive civilizations that they unstable become and self-destruct. Be it by making their planet uninhabitable, by grinding themselves to pieces in wars or by sealing their own end through difficult-to-control technologies such as nanorobots and artificial intelligence.
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“[The AIs] then developed in parallel to or instead of this biological species that initiated their development,” says Schneider. These artificial intelligences could already be ancient by human standards - not just hundreds of thousands, but millions of years - and have technologies "that appear to us like pure magic". Their civilizations - in whatever form - could span entire galaxies. “Artificial intelligence could replicate and expand easily and at a gigantic rate,” says Schneider. "You could just copy yourself, upload and download into new covers."
A superintelligence not only thinks faster, it also thinks further. It can solve problems more creatively, efficiently, and factor in factors we would never think of.
Not just intelligent, but super-intelligent
Not only could aliens look and function completely different from us. They might also think in ways that we cannot grasp. Because if there are aliens out there who live and we could encounter, then, according to Schneider, it would not only be computer-like life forms, but which are also equipped with super intelligence. "By that I mean an at least partially artificial intelligence that is so well developed that it far surpasses the mind and thinking abilities of a person in any field," says Schneider. “A superintelligence not only thinks faster, it also thinks further. It can solve problems more creatively, more efficiently and take into account factors that we would never think of. "
The reason for the super intelligence is the technological singularity. According to this thesis, an advanced race inevitably comes to a point where it creates artificial intelligences that work faster and better than the brightest representatives of their species. From now on developments and thought processes by the biological creators would be superfluous - because the artificial intelligences take over the helm. The logical step in order not to fall behind the thinking machines as a creator species is to unite with them. “I don't think that's very smart,” says Schneider. “But I think societies will do that.” Namely via brain-computer interfaces, nanorobots in the brain or ultimately the digitization and transfusion of the biological mind into an artificial body.
How and in what way such a superintelligence then thinks cannot really be said yet. “Because we're talking about a way of thinking that we probably can't understand,” says Schneider. “We can only try to get closer to the complex. We can speculate. ”Schneider refers to the book Super intelligence by the philosopher Nick Bostrom, who became known for his simulation thesis. He believes that a superintelligence could, for example, be driven purely to achieve defined goals and sub-goals - such as self-preservation, self-expansion or the gathering of knowledge.
Do you have a consciousness?
Post-biological life forms and super-intelligent artificial intelligences in space: What fascinates Susan Schneider about it is not only their possible existence, but also the question of whether they are conscious. Because so far the biological brain is the only known tool that can create consciousness; a state that creates a feeling of being alive, a certainty and reflection of one's own existence and control over one's own thoughts.
Many scientists are convinced that such a state could not be generated with pure artificial intelligence. There are also assumptions that a person could lose his consciousness with a transformation into a post-biological form of life. Because, according to the assumption, only biological processes can create awareness. It has not been proven. “I don't think it has to be like that,” says Schneider. “But it would be shocking if the universe was full of life that it was not aware of. Because it is the awareness that makes life worth experiencing and meaningful. "
A super intelligence could also consist of innumerable individual super mind beings or a collective spirit like the Borg from the Star Trek -Universe. She could think purely mathematically or see and grasp her environment completely without abstractions such as mathematical formulas or parables, just as it is . But of course a superintelligence could also function completely differently. It could be designed on the model of the brain of its original species and only whose computing power and storage capacity have expanded - and thereby not only cool calculations, but perhaps also emulate emotions and self-preservation instincts. "Accordingly, [the superintelligence] could represent very different values," says Schneider. "But we will only be able to say how it really is when we meet a superintelligence or create one ourselves."
Where are the super-intelligent aliens?
Technology visionaries like Raymond Kurzweil believe that our human thinking will be supported by artificial intelligence in just a few decades. Companies such as Neuralink and Kernel are already working on appropriate brain-computer interfaces that will not only help in the treatment of brain damage in the long term, but also serve as a digital extension and interface in the brain. Likewise, researchers working with neuroacoustician Nima Mesgarani have already developed a method for translating thoughts into spoken language. “We are still a long way from where we have to be to create super intelligence,” says Schneider. "But the way there is already visible."
So if the philosopher Susan Schneider has his way, it is quite possible that we humans too, if we do not exterminate ourselves beforehand, will already be trans- or even post-human forms of life if we should meet aliens. “We'll have upgraded ourselves with technology,” says Schneider. For exactly the same reasons that the hypothetical alien races did that. Because our biological bodies are flawed, it is us better power and simplify the conquest of space. But it is also possible that we will die out and leave artificial intelligences behind, which will eventually break into space instead of us.
Do we really want to attract extraterrestrial life forms to our earth?
The important question for Schneider, however, is: "If there are really super-intelligent aliens out there: Should we really send messages into space?" She considers the search for extraterrestrial life forms itself, and listening into space for signs of extraterrestrial life forms, to be important and correct. But she considers ideas like those, greetings, legible evidence of our intelligence, directions or even the whole Internet to beam into space as dangerous. “It's not exactly stupid,” she says. "But very daring!"
“Do we really want to lure extraterrestrial life forms to our earth?” Asks Schneider. “We don't know how such a super-intelligence really thinks. We don't know what their motivation looks like. ”And if humanity were able to communicate with this intelligence, it would be questionable whether they would even be interested in talking to us. For such a species could subordinate an underdeveloped species like humanity to its own complex goals. Extinction of Homo sapiens could be collateral damage. Little different than when we humans level an anthill to build a road through a forest.
Therefore, Schneider urges caution. “I think it would be better to just listen first,” she says of 1E9. “And maybe we should even put on some kind of magic hat. A means to hold back all that we radiate into space. ”In fact, one theory says that we have not yet found an intelligent life in space, because the individual civilizations behave as inconspicuously as possible - because the contact with another race, the could mean own extinction. “It would certainly be fascinating to apply to an extraterrestrial superintelligence,” says Schneider. "But it would also be very dangerous and threaten our existence."
Teaser Image: Getty Images / David Wall
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