Fermi Paradox – Do We Live In A Dark Forest?

in STEMGeeks2 months ago

Sometimes, the Universe seems like a dark forest. Silent, gloomy, and seeming dead. But hunters lurk in the shadows and they are deadly serious. And when two hunters meet only one survives. That’s one of the darkest solutions for the Fermi Paradox that describes the Universe as full of fear.


Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Most of you have heard about the Fermi Paradox. But, to make sure – the Universe should be filled with potentially habitable worlds and gorgeous civilizations. But from our point of view, it looks empty and desolate. While we are searching for any evidence of alien civilization maybe we should be scared of what we discover.

There are many explanations for the Fermi Paradox. From cute, through fancy explanations up to ones that are truly frightening. This particular solution is part of the last category. It’s called the Dark Forest Hypothesis. Interestingly, it originated from a book by the Chinese author Liou Cch’-sin and his book aptly named Dark Forest. This book is one of my personal favorites and I highly suggest you read it if you haven’t already.

It describes the Universe as a dark forest. Civilizations lurk through it as hunters. Stealthy, silent but armed to the teeth. They are carefully threading through the galactic bushes making sure not to even make a sound because they know that other civilizations in exactly the same position are out there. One if a hunter ever meets another hunter there is only one possibility. Destruction. And it doesn’t matter whether the civilizations are friendly or fully xenophobic as there are limited resources in the Universe and clashes are inevitable.

Other civilizations are the most dangerous things in a Universe for any civilization. Forever. But that doesn’t mean we should be seeing remnants of cosmic fights. They could just be lurking through the Universe hoping to find other civilizations before they themselves are discovered. And it also doesn’t mean that a quick devastating attack is always the best option. The newly discovered civilization may have some tricks up its sleeves and a quick attack may lead to your ultimate defeat. So, the best strategy may be to hide from everyone. And this is why we might not be seeing anyone out there.

Luckily, a very good argument against this theory is presented because of game theory as this seems to be a good universal way to judge strategies. The deadly hunt is a very risky strategy but only benefits those who are technologically and militarily powerful and that’s a hard guess when considering completely unknown foes with an insane number of variables. So, maybe the Universe is not as dark as it may seem.


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War 1 + 1 = 0
Peace 1 + 1 = 2
win-win 1 + 1 = 4 (or more)

The thought that universe is filled with war, or warring planets, etc
is patently stupid.

It is only thinkable by a race of people who hasn't solved the problem of making enough for everybody.
And one that still sees everything in a win-lose mentality.

Further, science will finally accept the fact that the fleshie part of the body is only a small proportion of the body. And that people who live in the space station aren't losing body due to lack of gravity and muscle building, but because they have left earth, which they are a part of.

After that, science will realize that the notion of taking over a planet, even a supposed barren one, is not at all easy. Terriforming is the smallest of the tasks to be done.

Lastly, aliens have been visiting earth since the start.
Many advanced civilization on earth had open contact with aliens.
That we are here, thinking we are advanced, wondering if aliens actually exist
is quite humorous.

There are probably hostile civilizations out there, but if humans are any indication, there are also friendly and funny ones too. I'm beginning to lean towards the most obvious solution to the Fermi paradox: viruses. Viruses can quickly wipe out a civilization, just look at what this relatively weak coronavirus has done to humanity. There is more where that came from. If a local virus doesn't wipe out civilizations in a planet, then an alien virus could. So making contact makes no sense at all. It's best to keep each other at a distance.

Viruses only truly work when you take physical (or close) contact into consideration. Civilizations could also talk over huge distances so viruses would never have a chance to spread. Also, even meeting in close - even we at our "lowly" technological level have ways to prevent them from getting into our bodies. Even a spacesuit would work well.

We don't really understand viruses that well. Viruses appear to have many tricks up their sleeves, including air transmission. Earth is full of viruses (thousands upon thousands), many of which we do not yet understand or even know exist. We could certainly develop (consciously or accidently) a bio-weapon that changes how they behave too. If we ever meet a civilization, we're not just going to say "hello" and then go our separate ways. We're going to come in close contact with them, their animals, and technology. This close contact increases the chance of cross-contamination. The chances are very high that they could introduce a virus into our ecosystem or we could introduce a virus into theirs. An alien virus is perhaps the biggest threat we face from a non-hostile alien civilization.

You bring a good point. If we stay apart, then the chances are small because of the distances involved. But let's consider the following scenario. An alien civilization uses FRBs to communicate with us across a vast distance. They teach us how to create an "FRB 3D printer," so we can share information. A malicious civilization could use this FRB 3D printer to send a virus across vast distances without having to set foot here. This would be a good way to transform our planet and invade it at a later date.

I think you are being a bit too optimistic when it comes to close contact with aliens. There would be probably years worth of research on whether such contact would be safe done from both sides as any space-faring civilization would very well know of the risks of viruses, bacteria, and similar things.

Also, a 3D printer capable of printing viruses would have to be almost impossibly intricate as it would have to be capable of literally printing DNA. And their attempt could easily fail because they would have no prior knowledge of our immune systems so it could easily just defeat it. It would be a fifty/fifty shot at either it does nothing or it wipes us out and they would have no knowledge on whether it worked because of the time delay.

There is no guarantee that alien intelligence is similar to ours, so there's no telling what they would do. But let's use human intelligence as an example. Humans are very adventurous and wreckless. For example, we know that there could be dangerous viruses on Mars (if there's life), and yet we're only a few years away from going there in spite of this danger. We'll be digging around in no time. Closer to home, we know that bats and other creatures carry viruses, and we're still poking around in caves. We also know that there could be viruses in frozen lakes in the arctic, and we continue to dig up and bring up life from its icy depths. So, in spite of the danger, we continue exploring and touching other life-forms. A sufficiently advanced civilization may also decide to come poke around on Earth for research purposes.

We are already capable of creating organisms using synthetic DNA. In a few decades, this will be routine. So, a sufficiently advanced civilization (several hundred, thousands, or millions of years ahead of us) could do it fairly easily. We now know that FRBs are capable of carrying more complex information, so if we use them to communicate, we could send complex instructions to each other. You're right that they might not understand our nervous system, but if we share that information then it will be easy. Because of our social nature, humans like to share too much information. Here's exhibit A:


We even put our home address!

I've never heard this one, but I like t he creativity.

My view on the Fermi paradox is societies get so advanced they all succumb to their own inventions and destroy themselves before being capable of building generational space ships that can explore the galaxy.

I doubt the Dark Forest hypothesis. If alien species exist, and if they are anything like humanity, they would probably need to form an advanced voluntary society to escape the kind of political and corporate bullshit holding us back now.

I don't personally believe it either. To be honest, I don't think either of the solutions are correct on themselves, more likely each of them playing a bit of a role in the final equation.

Or, we just happen to seriously be the first civilization out there, hey someone had to be first.

What if the estimates for evolutionary probability are wrong, and we ARE the only sentient species that has existed, does exist, and will ever exist? Is that scarier, or more comforting? On the one hand, no doom from beyond the stars to destroy us. On the other, no technologically advanced aid or trade will ever come from outside.

Well, that's of course possible and certainly scary.

Maybe not looking at this in a human perspective, but how it works in the animal world. Most small creatures live their lives and try to avoid the large predators. Some creatures have adapted to keep the predators at bay. Then, on the predator level, there is only one Alpha for an area.

That's probably more of how space would be, if there wasn't a great eraser out there making sure that no civilization gets to a certain point.

Counterpoint 1: porcupines, skunks, and other critters predators leave alone.

Counterpoint 2: Humans are part of nature. We are re-learning conservation and coexistence with nature. We can use without exploiting, and generally coexist with other species.

Counterpoint to my own counterpoint: we also farm livestock, and slavery is a major part of global human history.

C1 : I mentioned that some creatures have adapted a way to keep larger predators at bay.

C2: We are the Apex Predator. Some people are alphas, some are betas. But, even looking at humans as part of the animal kingdom, we still fit in the same way as others. There are some predators we stay away from and some smaller possible prey we do not eat.

And hence, most likely we will be a delicious meal for the invading alien force.

"To serve man. It's a cookbook!"