Could there be a civil­i­sa­tion more ad­vanced than Earth's?

All About Space - - Ask Space - Dr Dou­glas Vakoch is the pres­i­dent of Mes­sag­ing Ex­trater­res­trial In­tel­li­gence, based in San Fran­cisco

If we make con­tact they’re guar­an­teed to be more ad­vanced than us. If they’re less ad­vanced they won’t have the tech­nol­ogy to com­mu­ni­cate across in­ter­stel­lar dis­tances. We’ve had ra­dio tech­nol­ogy for less than a cen­tury. If that’s typ­i­cal of civil­i­sa­tions in our galaxy – that they sur­vive for only a cen­tury and then de­stroy them­selves or sim­ply stop ex­plor­ing – then we won’t both ex­ist at the same time, given the 13-bil­lion-year age of the uni­verse. We’ll only make con­tact if the aliens have been around much longer than us, mean­ing they’ll be more ad­vanced.

But couldn’t they have our level of tech­nol­ogy, but just be much longer-lived? Maybe that’s the key to sus­tain­abil­ity of civil­i­sa­tions on cos­mic time scales – re­ly­ing on prim­i­tive tech­nol­ogy that uses min­i­mal re­sources. That’s cer­tainly con­ceiv­able, but even then, the ex­trater­res­trial so­ci­ety would have a sta­bil­ity that far sur­passes Earth’s cul­tural chaos. Even if the aliens we con­tact aren’t tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced, they’ll be much more so­cially ad­vanced.

MEti fo­cuses on at­tempt­ing to ac­tively mes­sage ex­trater­res­trial in­tel­li­gent life

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