Robotic Life Forms
There is no doubt that research into robotic life forms and artificial intelligence has progressed significantly over the last fifty years. The practical application of the results is, however, still at the formative stage compared to the infinite potential which seems to beckon. That being said, even the near future is full of possibilities: self-driving cars, fully robotic manufacturing with nary a human in site, medical robots, home servants of various shapes and capabilities, and education, to mention just a few.
Reality, of course, still trails Science Fiction but … what if we look centuries ahead, or for that matter deeper into the universe? Will there ever be a life form equivalent, say, to the human being?
Aliens and Robotic LIfe
Bearing in mind the current pace of progress, it is easy to visualise artificial life venturing out into the universe, leaving humans behind in its wake. And if it is possible for us, it may well be possible for alien races, too.
So, if we eventually encounter aliens it is quite possible that they could be an advanced form of robotic life. If that were to be the case, it is also quite likely that we would not even recognise them as robots. And that would mean that their builders would be so far ahead of us in technology and all facets of existence that we could probably not even communicate at all. Unless, of course, they had studied us for some time and taught themselves how to communicate at our level! That would be much harder than us trying to understand the full spectrum of animal communications ─ and we are a long way from that at the moment.
A NASA Perspective
Seth Shostak, director of NASA’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, program, NASA Astrobiologist Paul Davies, and Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology Stephen Dick espouse the view that the dominant intelligence in the cosmos is probably artificial.
For those interested in a NASA lecture on the subject, here is a link:
That, I hope, does not mean that there are no other biological creatures in the cosmos, just that there are probably more synthetic ones. And that they will be so much older than ourselves.
When we search for alien life, we look at Earth-like worlds, exoplanets, or worlds that inhabit so-called Goldilocks zones. Seth Shostak’s arguments mean that alien life could be far more versatile, being digital life forms.
Which is why efforts like SETI are critically important. They look not just at possible life-bearing worlds, but at all signals that alien life might have sent into space.
And it follows that AI may be the path to humans becoming a spacefaring world. Digitisation may be crucial to explaining the problems facing a galaxy-wide race, like how to harness massive amounts of energy required for a Type 2 or Type 3 civilization. The entertaining comic strip explanation linked below gives a definition of civilisation type.
Thus, if alien civilisations have created their successors and they are highly advanced artificially-intelligent robotic life forms, then we shouldn’t just be looking in the so-called “Goldilocks zones” of stars for planets with climates and water similar to Earth for signs of life. Instead, we should look for planets that have significant amounts of raw materials for building machines, and have the resources to power them.
So where does all this leave UFOs and alien visitors to Earth. It, of course, puts them in a totally different context. It means that alien UFOs are almost certainly unmanned, artificial intelligent machines, and that their occupants [when there are any] are themselves robotic in nature. It also means that we are not interfacing with the real aliens, who could in fact be extinct, or, at least, extremely distant, in more ways than one.
There is, in my opinion, a caveat to all this theory. What if the aliens are crossing dimensions, rather than space? What if they did not pursue artificial intelligence at all, but rather concentrated on exploring the intricacies of inter-dimensional travel? The possibilities and interactions are endless. As endless as the universes we live in. That’s why Science Fiction is such fun.