The Type Of Alien Most Likely To Invade | Unveiled
VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio
WRITTEN BY: Dylan Musselman
These aliens are coming! Join us... and find out more!
In this video, Unveiled takes a closer look at the type of alien that's most likely to invade planet Earth... post-biological! For decades, we've been expecting some kind of recognisable, organic life form to just beam down from the clouds... but really, that's NOT what will happen, at all!
The Type Of Alien Most Likely To Invade
When we consider the biggest threats to the future of humanity, the rise of artificial intelligence is always a point of debate. Robots gaining consciousness and overthrowing humans for supremacy on Earth is a genuine concern for many. But what if, actually, it isn’t our robots that we should be worrying about..?
This is Unveiled, and today we’re taking a closer look at the type of alien most likely to invade.
Whether it’s the small green beings of science fiction… the tall, gangly grays of many an alien abduction story… or the non-carbon entities of some academic predictions… there are plenty of ideas as to what real alien life will be like. There aren’t always that many links between the various different versions, although they usually are in some way biological. As with Earthly life (including humans) it’s often supposed that ETs will’ve evolved along similar pathways. That, if they were ever to arrive on Earth (for better or worse) they’d be at least fundamentally recognisable as an organic thing.
However, not everyone agrees. First, why might an alien force arrive on Earth to begin with? The aggressive invasion by an all-conquering empire is a popular trope in the movies because that’s probably what’s most exciting. Then there’s an idea attributed to Steven Hawking, that aliens traveling through space would be more like wandering nomads, visiting planets in search of things they need, like resources and fuel for their ships and continued existence. There are some serious arguments that aliens really would “come in peace”, too, as well as some theories that what they’d want would be so unknown to the things that we value… that actually we might never notice that they ever were here. There is, then, a long list of possible motivations… but all are united by their need for ultra-efficiency. An invasion of a foreign planet requires supreme planning; the galactic nomad lifestyle is reckless without a strategy; arriving in peace is all well and good, but only if you’re also prepared for a hostile welcome; and an hypothesized, advanced group literally beyond human understanding… who knows how sharply their minds would have to work. AI robotics fits the bill across the board.
This view that aliens (when they come) will most likely be robotic - that they’ll be post-biological - is shared by, among others, the SETI Institute astronomer Seth Shostak. It’s a fast growing line of inquiry for all in the field. One of the most important factors is the timescale of technological progression compared to the universe at large. Modern human beings have been on Earth for roughly 300,000 years, but for a vast majority of that time advancement was slow. The first civilizations that we know of didn’t arise until around 6,000 years ago, and hundreds of thousands of years after the first humans here. Ever since then, however, tech progression has been relatively rapid - with most of anything we’ve ever invented coming between then and now.
A smaller, more specific example can be found in, say, electricity. We only discovered how to harness electricity a couple hundred years ago. For literally hundreds of thousands of years beforehand, humans had nothing of the sort… but now we’ve built radios, computers, rocket ships, smartphones, smart cars, entire smart cities, all based on the same principles of electricity. That progress has happened in just a few centuries. A short moment in the lifespan of the human species, but truly the blink of an eye alongside the universe as a whole - which works and develops over timescales of millions and billions of years.
Because of this, one philosopher - Susan Schneider - has proposed a theory called the Short Window Observation. A key idea within it is that any beings that have invented radio communication are only a short time - perhaps a century, or two - away from upgrading their biological bodies. It all has to do with a seemingly natural path that technology arguably follows in order to unlock other technologies. For many, it’s a path that we are currently on. We’re moving between harnessing energy and building machines… toward blurring the boundaries between that and us. The renowned historian Yuval Noah Harari is another who has explored this theme, predicting that humanity will have upgraded to become cyborgs within just the next two hundred years. Again, a very brief period of time, but one that could truly shape our far future destinies. And so, to apply the Short Window Observation to hypothesized alien beings, as well, it appears highly likely that successful ETs should also have experienced rapid tech growth… and therefore that they should similarly have upgraded their biological bodies. In short, the chances are high that aliens are robots.
How might this have actually come to pass, though? Looking at our own story, the transfer of human consciousness into artificial brains and bodies seems a hugely important step. And indeed, for us, this might not be so far away. Modern scientists are busy mapping the human brain as we speak… and, as we found in another recent video, brain (or mind) reading could be just around the corner, too. For many, it’s all wrapped up in our quest for immortality, with the building of “unkillable” artificial bodies all that stands between us and life ever after. So, it wouldn’t exactly be surprising should another intelligent species head in the same direction; nor if that intelligent species were to then complete their “short window”, coming out the otherside equipped enough to travel to other planets like Earth.
Because, in the grand scheme of space, overcoming death is more than just living forever, it’s very likely necessary for anything hoping to survive interstellar travel. If the speed of light really is the universal speed limit, then traveling even at 99% of that wouldn’t be enough to explore outer space for any mortal being. From our perspective, if humanity were trying to reach the next nearest solar system to us, Alpha Centauri, and if we were traveling at lightspeed or just below… then it would still take more than four years for just a one-way trip. To survive such a journey as a mortal we would need enough food, water, oxygen, and medical supplies to keep our bodies going, while also finding a way to withstand all the other extreme demands of long distance space travel, like radiation exposure… and that’s all even in a reality where we have unlimited fuel for the ship and some means of temporary stasis to put a stopper on our own aging.
Clearly, as we are, it would be impossible. But not if you were to sub us for artificial robot beings. And we see this thinking already, with the number of robotic missions we today send into space compared to crewed launches. Putting machines up there is not only more feasible, it’s also much safer. And again, why wouldn’t another intelligent species come to the same conclusion? Why would they risk themselves, when they’ll likely have experienced the same “short window” and devised various AI options to go in their stead? There’d be so much less that could go wrong during their launch, journey and eventual arrival.
For those who support the theory, it’s not only possible but very likely certain that aliens will be synthetic in nature. As we grow to understand more about space, potential life, and what that potential life could (and won’t) be capable of… it’s an alien stance that looks set to gain more and more followers. The extremely long-winded generation ship model aside, there appear to be precious few other solutions for humans in space… and we’re potentially right in the middle of our own “short window” of technological progression, right now. Consider an alien group in a similar position, or what’s more statistically likely, that they’re beyond their window… and it’s probable that they’d be following the way of the robot, too.
But what’s your verdict on this particular aspect of the future? Are artificial bodies destined to become the norm for us? Might alien life develop in a similar way? And if that happens, are we ever that likely to meet actual, organic, biological ETs? Or will they be sending something a little more robust our way, in place of themselves?
Perhaps there’s little reason to imagine that alien life would share so many similarities with how humans have grown on Earth… but it’s certainly true that the furthest tangible evidence of us in space is wholly robotic. The Voyager probes have a long way to go before they reach even Alpha Centauri, but if an alien were to encounter them then it’s they that would represent biological us.
It’s only a short jump to picture those roles reversed. And that’s why robotic aliens are the most likely type of aliens to invade.