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The Future of Humanity & Intelligent life in the universe

07 May 2019 01:03

@Stellarator

This was an interesting video!

In our day-to-day lives and with the false sense of security that comes from our technology, we usually forget (or some not even acknowledge) how fragile our economy is.
Basically we are doing the same thing since thousands of years: the majority of our food supply is depending on agriculture, and this makes us very vulnerable to extreme weather or geological events.

For example: the years without sunlight (~536 AD), where extreme volcanic activities caused the so-called "Late Antique Little Ice Age" (~536-660 AD) with widespread famine and, possibly, the extermination of some smaller civilizations; and more recently the The Year Without a Summer (1816) with similar (albeit smaller on scale) consequences.
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07 May 2019 13:31

I predict if we keep going at this rate humanity will be extinct in less than 1,000 years.  The planet will be fine even if this happens and will recover and if another intelligent species arises after we disappear hopefully they will find out what killed us off and learn from our mistakes.  Maybe this is why we haven't found any signs of life in the universe, the first attempts always fail and it takes two chances to jump over the Great Filter that lies ahead of us.
 
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07 May 2019 13:43

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post and it takes two chances to jump over the Great Filter that lies ahead of us.


Nothing of our civilization outside of some strange geologic anomalies will appear in the record and those could be explained through some very rare much more likely things in nature.

So to burst your bubble, if a future civilization happens, nothing we have done is going to be detected and they will be just as blindly bumbling as we are.

Also as far as we can tell, it took the last 3.5bil years of evolution to evolve us, the Earth at best has half a billion years left before the sun starts to make the Earth a very inhospitable place. We're probably the first and the last intelligent species for this planet.
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07 May 2019 13:48

DoctorOfSpace wrote:
A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post and it takes two chances to jump over the Great Filter that lies ahead of us.


Nothing of our civilization outside of some strange geologic anomalies will appear in the record and those could be explained through some very rare much more likely things in nature.

So to burst your bubble, if a future civilization happens, nothing we have done is going to be detected and they will be just as blindly bumbling as we are.

Also as far as we can tell, it took the last 3.5bil years of evolution to evolve us, the Earth at best has half a billion years left before the sun starts to make the Earth a very inhospitable place.  We're probably the first and the last intelligent species for this planet.

Ah Doc, that's very sad, I figured we had about a billion years before the sun starts to get into its red giant phase, and a lot of evolution can happen in a billion years.  Didn't the first vertebrates appear around 600 million years ago?  If we died out I dont think the planet would start from scratch again, there likely would be other vertebrates that survive whatever happens to us.

Do you think we could find some way to preserve some historical records that would survive for that long?  Using some sort of vacuum technique like they do with seeds in case of a nuclear war?  Or maybe by leaving a satellite in orbit that contained historical records and pictures?

What do you think about this UN report and extinction- do you think we'll make it past this (possibly Great) filter?
 
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07 May 2019 14:06

Judging by the fact that 99% of all species that ever existed on Earth are all extinct, the chances that we will have time to establish a "Star Trek" like space faring civilization is very small.
Our dependence on fossil fuel technologies, the upcoming peak oil crisis in the next few decades and with no real alternatives in sight, I believe that our future as a species is not so bright.

If you think about it, a 100 years ago, there was less than 2 billion people on Earth and now we are well over 7 billion.
And this is just because of our technology, what in turn comes from fossil fuels.
If you take away the oil from the picture, naturally, the number of people who was dependent on it will go too.
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07 May 2019 18:28

DoctorOfSpace wrote:
Source of the post So to burst your bubble, if a future civilization happens, nothing we have done is going to be detected and they will be just as blindly bumbling as we are.

I agree with you on the blind and bumbling part. But as for whether or not a future civilization could detect our past presence on this planet and elsewhere in the solar-system, that really depends on when that next intelligent species developed their own technological society capable of performing archeology. As it stands, if humanity was wiped by some superbug or nuclear apocalypse sometime in the 21st century, there are a host of species that could take on the mantle of Earth's dominant intelligent species in the next millions of years, after the proverbial dust settled and the ecosystem normalized. I think I need not reference which species, since all of us here probably can make some educated guesses. If nature fosters intelligence in a species like it did with us, 10 million years would be enough time for a hypothetical species of advanced crow, or even some other great ape (for example) to evolve to human-level intelligence and society - if natural selection takes that route.  In that time period, there would still be some evidence of our presence on this planet that could not be conveniently explained away as natural by corvid or chimp scholars.

Of course our buildings for the most part would have eroded away into dust, but far underground governmental bunkers, nuclear waste dumps (the structures themselves, not the materials stored therein since most have half-lives of ~few hundred thousand years) and old mines may still survive geological changes. Certain surface features might also survive the test of time - the pyramids of Giza (or their dispersed ruins) might still be present for up to 50 million years, barring any serious continental shifts or natural disasters. Likewise, some other monuments would last an incredibly long time. There would also be a curious absence of oil, heavy elements or rare Earth metals in places where geologists would suspect an abundance. And we have not even mentioned the possibilities of future archeologists finding the fossilized remains of homo sapiens sapiens and certain hardy technologies in geologically static conditions conducive to fossilization. I imagine a mass grave site resultant from a superbug outbreak, if situated in the right spot, could be a treasuretrove for future non-human scientists to study. 

If humanity wiped itself out some time in the future, and we managed to find a foothold in the solar-system, then space debris and evidence of exploration could possibly last an incredibly long time in the cold reaches of interplanetary space or on barren, airless worlds - if protected from micrometeorite impacts. In the future, we might also manufacture exotic materials that may withstand the test of time far better then concrete or steel. So the longer we exist before going extinct, the better the chances are that someone could detect our presence in the future.

DoctorOfSpace wrote:
Source of the post Also as far as we can tell, it took the last 3.5bil years of evolution to evolve us,

We cannot say for sure that we are the first. There may have been a number of intelligent species that could have achieved some semblance of society before going extinct. It is bold to claim otherwise, since our knowledge of the fossil record is patchy. 3.5 billion years is a long time (realistically, intelligence on land could have evolved starting at ~300 million years ago when life was really diversifying on land - it is doubtful that it could evolved any earlier). On those timescales, NO evidence of intelligence in the fossil record would survive aside from the barest traces of fossilized detritus - but only if they did not live in an environment very conducive to fossilization processes.

It is an interesting statement to make - saying we are the first on this planet simply because we have not yet discovered intelligence in the past, and yet also state that future intelligent species would never be able to find evidence of us despite looking. Perhaps these future archaeologists could misinterpret the evidence of our presence, but eventually the idea would be broached that another intelligent species lived on their planet, in order to explain certain anomalies (on Earth or in space). But the question of time still remains regarding our detectability for future beings. I would not take the absence of clear evidence for intelligence in our past as evidence that we are the first on this planet. We ourselves might be guilty of misinterpreting some geologic anomaly that was in fact caused by intelligent activities. An example that comes to mind is that of the Ordovician-Silurian extinction event (although this is baseless speculation on my part).

These are my thoughts on the matter. I find it passe to disregard our mark on the geological timeline of Earth (however small it may be!) and also say that based on paleoscience so far, we are the first here on Earth. We may well be, but it is unscientific to disregard the possibility.

In the long term however, I completely agree that time will erode any trace of us, on Earth or elsewhere. It would be exceedingly arrogant of us to say otherwise.
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08 May 2019 00:33

@Stellarator

Well written and good points there!

Not to mention that future civilizations may will have radically different thinking, than us.
While curiosity is not just a human trait, possible intelligent future races may will have ideologies that will not support archaeological research, or will be just too busy to strip-mine Earth's crust for their own survival, and will dismiss (or not even acknowledge) any past human archaeological findings as anomalies. Thus, in my opinion, this is not just about that they could detect our traces on their technological level, but whether or not they will be willing to do it.
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08 May 2019 06:53

Stellarator wrote:
Source of the post there are a host of species that could take on the mantle of Earth's dominant intelligent species in the next millions of years, after the proverbial dust settled and the ecosystem normalized.


Blind speculation with no evidence to suggest they would.

Stellarator wrote:
Source of the post We cannot say for sure that we are the first.


All available evidence suggests we are, and we see nothing in the geological records or fossil records so far to suggest otherwise.
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08 May 2019 08:24

At first it sounds ridiculous that humans wouldn't necessarily be the first intelligent species on Earth, because humans have surely made enough to make an impact in the geological record visible for many million years.  But the modern human has been around for some 2-300,000 years, and they were intelligent back then, too, not necessarily less than us.  So, if we imagine that homo sapiens went extinct 250,000 years ago, would a future intelligent species 50 million years from now know that they weren't the first?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  It's hard to rule out an intelligent species whose population including ancestors never got big, in particular if it was geographically isolated.  But I think it's extremely unlikely.

It's safer to say that we're the first species to utilise much of Earth's resources to build advanced, global civilisations.
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08 May 2019 11:14

midtskogen wrote:
Source of the post It's safer to say that we're the first species to utilise much of Earth's resources to build advanced, global civilisations.


Which is what I was implying with my "as far as we can tell" remark. I am not making definitive statements, only statements based in the data that we have now.
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08 May 2019 15:48

DoctorOfSpace wrote:
midtskogen wrote:
Source of the post It's safer to say that we're the first species to utilise much of Earth's resources to build advanced, global civilisations.


Which is what I was implying with my "as far as we can tell" remark.  I am not making definitive statements, only statements based in the data that we have now.

Doc if we had a mass extinction event on the level of the K-T event, wouldn't you say that another intelligent species could take over in let's say 100 million years?  If 90% of all species went extinct (including humankind) but there were still some small mammals left like shrews and mice, etc., and fish in the oceans.  If we intentionally choose to preserve historical records do you think they could survive to that point (whether in a satellite orbiting Earth, inside a lunar crater or somewhere deep beneath its surface or some kind of vacuum solution.)

Here in NY we're taking the first steps away from fossil fuels, as we have banned fracking and now there is a moratorium on pipelines, that is old buildings and houses can continue to use fossil fuels but all new buildings and houses must have renewable fuels.  I believe Florida has gone the same route.
 
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08 May 2019 20:25

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post wouldn't you say that another intelligent species could take over in let's say 100 million years?


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09 May 2019 00:39

DoctorOfSpace wrote:
Source of the post Blind speculation with no evidence to suggest they would.

Indeed. I am not realistically saying that they would, but rather invoking the possibility to be in line with the discussion of a future civilization on this planet discovering our ancient remains. The time period between civilizations is very relevant for the question.

DoctorOfSpace wrote:
Source of the post All available evidence suggests we are, and we see nothing in the geological records or fossil records so far to suggest otherwise.

Really? This is a bold, if plausible-sounding, statement to make. While it is exceedingly remote that any intelligence existed on this planet before us based on the apparent evidence, we must remember that the geological record is scrappy and incomplete. The argument for or against an intelligence being present on a pre-human Earth could conceivably swing both ways if we consider the possibilities proffered by the so-called Silurian Hypothesis (of which this discussion is in loose reference to). Based on geological markers like carbon isotopes, one could point the finger towards artificial industry causing any number of environmental irregularities (in the absence of hard evidence like fossils or relics) such as the Jurassic Ocean Anoxic Events, or the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). While far more prosaic explanations have been offered to explain these, we cannot rule out some form of civilization being the cause.

In short, our knowledge of Earth's ancient environments, and that of any possible intelligent mark in the rest of our solar-system, is too incomplete to be so confident. You yourself said that future civilizations could explain away our geological marks on the planet as natural, so it is entirely possible we are guilty of the same - the room for erroneous conclusion only grows the further back we look. It is just as tentatively speculative to say that we are the first, as opposed to say that we are not. You and midtskogen both agreed that a non-industrial civilization would leave virtually no geologic footprint. Considering how many times the ancient lineages of humans almost went extinct (Great Bottleneck anyone?), it is not at all surprising notion to consider that at least a few non-industrial sapient species could have existed unbeknownst to us in the past - in addition to a few industrial ones.

In essence, my quibble with your conclusion was that it seemed a non-sequitur - just because we cannot (or will not) see the evidence for past intelligence on our planet does not mean future civilizations will do the same to us (provided they appear sometime before 50 million years in the future), nor does it mean that nothing has existed before us.

I realize this is all in the spirit of speculation, and I personally have no great feelings towards an absence or presence of intelligence existing on our Earth past or future. I do think that it is a possibility that we have overlooked certain clues about the past, however.
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09 May 2019 15:42

Stellarator wrote:
DoctorOfSpace wrote:
Source of the post Blind speculation with no evidence to suggest they would.

Indeed. I am not realistically saying that they would, but rather invoking the possibility to be in line with the discussion of a future civilization on this planet discovering our ancient remains. The time period between civilizations is very relevant for the question.

DoctorOfSpace wrote:
Source of the post All available evidence suggests we are, and we see nothing in the geological records or fossil records so far to suggest otherwise.

Really? This is a bold, if plausible-sounding, statement to make. While it is exceedingly remote that any intelligence existed on this planet before us based on the apparent evidence, we must remember that the geological record is scrappy and incomplete. The argument for or against an intelligence being present on a pre-human Earth could conceivably swing both ways if we consider the possibilities proffered by the so-called Silurian Hypothesis (of which this discussion is in loose reference to). Based on geological markers like carbon isotopes, one could point the finger towards artificial industry causing any number of environmental irregularities (in the absence of hard evidence like fossils or relics) such as the Jurassic Ocean Anoxic Events, or the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). While far more prosaic explanations have been offered to explain these, we cannot rule out some form of civilization being the cause.

In short, our knowledge of Earth's ancient environments, and that of any possible intelligent mark in the rest of our solar-system, is too incomplete to be so confident. You yourself said that future civilizations could explain away our geological marks on the planet as natural, so it is entirely possible we are guilty of the same - the room for erroneous conclusion only grows the further back we look. It is just as tentatively speculative to say that we are the first, as opposed to say that we are not. You and midtskogen both agreed that a non-industrial civilization would leave virtually no geologic footprint. Considering how many times the ancient lineages of humans almost went extinct (Great Bottleneck anyone?), it is not at all surprising notion to consider that at least a few non-industrial sapient species could have existed unbeknownst to us in the past - in addition to a few industrial ones.

In essence, my quibble with your conclusion was that it seemed a non-sequitur - just because we cannot (or will not) see the evidence for past intelligence on our planet does not mean future civilizations will do the same to us (provided they appear sometime before 50 million years in the future), nor does it mean that nothing has existed before us.

I realize this is all in the spirit of speculation, and I personally have no great feelings towards an absence or presence of intelligence existing on our Earth past or future. I do think that it is a possibility that we have overlooked certain clues about the past, however.

I am reminded of Foundation and Earth, where the protagonists discovered ancient human remains the closer they got to Earth.  This is far into the future, where all memory of our home planet has been long forgotten.....
 
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17 May 2019 01:17

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