Search for Old Intelligence

Our Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) programs scan the cosmos for tell-tale electromagnetic traces of other civilizations. They hope to find a beacon announcing the presence of an intelligent species out among the stars, but they also are looking for any signal that might indicate intelligence even though it is not intended as an announcement. All of this searching depends upon a basic assumption that intelligence in any form will be using electromagnetic radiation for communication in a form similar to human civilization.

Our civilization has only been using electromagnetic radiation for communication for less than two hundred years and at levels detectable from any distance for less than one hundred years. (as far as we know) Singularity theory postulates a coming explosion of knowledge and technology that may change the way we communicate information. If these changes take us away from our current forms of communication, our history will be left with a small window of time where we used the type of communications we now use as a standard in searching for alien intelligence.

If other civilizations also experience rapid growth of technology, they also could exhibit small windows in which their presence might be detected by any single technology of communication. We may soon discover new ways to search for ETs and that may become a constantly changing state. Discovering an ET civilization that then experiences changes in their technology would require us to also change our detection techniques in order to maintain contact. It might lead to an entire sequence of predictable changes that would allow us to pinpoint the level of technological development of the civilization.

Rapid advances in technology might also allow a distant civilization to exceed the limitations of an earlier technology and travel to a signal destination point before the signal arrives there. It could become possible for a highly advanced intelligence to visit a distant primitive civilization before any trace of their own early days of technology could travel across the gulf of space. While we search for ETs who are using our own level of technology, they may already be here watching us, well before any signal of their own “radio” era arrives for us to detect. They might have the ability to absorb or jam the signal before we could understand it.

This makes it difficult to anticipate how to detect an “old intelligence” and unlikely that we will be successful. But it does open up some interesting speculation that we may have already been discovered by an older and more intelligent civilization without having much chance ourselves of discovering them. It seems more likely we might detect old intelligence by a level of wisdom or ethics associated with it than any level of technology, which we may not be able to comprehend.

SEE ALSO:
Singularity Theory May Explain Fermi Paradox
Singularity Horizon
ET Slow Scan

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