Are Extraterrestrials Social Distancing from Us?
Avi Loeb in Conversation with Andrew Keen on Keen On
The coronavirus pandemic is dramatically disrupting not only our daily lives but society itself. This show features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the deeper economic, political, and technological consequences of the pandemic. It’s our new daily podcast trying to make longterm sense out of the chaos of today’s global crisis.
In this episode, Avi Loeb joins Andrew to discuss his new book, Extraterrestrial, and our first contact with extraterrestrial intelligence.
From the episode:
Avi Loeb: During the pandemic, I thought about the possibility that there is social distancing on a cosmic scale. That in fact, very advanced civilizations would close themselves in a cocoon in order not to degrade their quality of life by interacting with lesser civilizations. That doesn’t mean we will not find out about them, because they still need to throw trash out into space. And just like investigative journalists that go through the trash cans of celebrities in Hollywood, we could find out about their private lives by finding their trash in space.
But you raised an important point, that artificial intelligence may be our future, and if we look at the alien technologies, they are already in our future. So perhaps it will all be equipment; it will not be biological creatures we will face. That’s quite likely to be the case, that we will first detect equipment in space that is extremely sophisticated, that would look like magic to us, rather than biological creatures that are intelligent.
Avi Loeb is the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University, where he chairs the astronomy department and directs the Black Hole Initiative. He chairs the Advisory Committee for the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative and the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies.