Daily Archives: August 22, 2016

The “Transcension Hypothesis” and the “Fermi Paradox”

A graphical representation of the Arecibo message, humanity’s first attempt to use radio waves to actively communicate its existence to alien civilizations

(This article was reprinted in the online magazine of the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, September 5, 2016.)

John Smart, a colleague of mine in the Evolution, Cognition and Complexity Group, has advanced the transcension hypothesis. In Smart’s words:

The transcension hypothesis proposes that a universal process of evolutionary development guides all sufficiently advanced civilizations into what may be called “inner space,” a computationally optimal domain of increasingly dense, productive, miniaturized, and efficient scales of space, time, energy, and matter, and eventually, to a black-hole-like destination.

An important implications of the transcension hypothesis is as a possible explanation for the Fermi paradox—the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence for the existence of extraterrestrials along with high probability estimates given for their existence by the Drake equation. (I have previously written about the Fermi paradox here and here.)

This suggests that rather than exploring the outer space of the universe, advanced civilizations explore their inner space and eventually disappear from our view. And this is why the SETI Institute hasn’t found evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence. This two-minute video explains this clearly.

While the transcension hypothesis is reasonable although speculative. An implication of the hypothesis is that, if true, there is more to reality than we know. And this suggests that there may be better realities than our current one. Perhaps our descendants will escape to such realities and somehow bring us along, maybe by running ancestor simulation? Who knows. But one thing we can say for sure; much is hidden from our ape-like minds and this should cause us to be humble.