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SETI and The Transition

SETI and a hypothesis of transition: a new point of view at the World

In summer 2010 the astronomer of international project "Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence", Seth Shostak, announced that it is necessary not to look for the signs of civilization of "human" kind in the space but for the signals of an artificial intelligence (AI). Nowadays it is considered that extraterrestrial life may probably exist on the basis different from albumen, that its representatives may bear no resemblance to inhabitants of the Earth.

However till now Seti’s researches are based on laws of biology, on the assumption that "aliens”"can propagate themselves, their generations change, they can naturally evolve, etc. At the same time at the example of the Earth it is shown that technological progress is a great deal faster than natural biological changes. In reasonable worlds after the invention of radio "thinking" machines which then are improved up to the level of an artificial intellect are created quickly enough.

On once appearing AI devices should "overtake" their creators rather quickly and become the key element determining the lifestyle of the civilization. That’s why it is necessary to look for "biological", not "technological" signals in the space. This idea was supported by doctor John Eliot, Seti researcher from Leeds Metropolitan University, UK, reported BBC News.

There is, however, at least one more obscure fact in doctor Shostak’s discoursing – what is in store for the creators of AI. On the face of it, this obscurity may seem to be of little importance. But there can’t be insignificant details when the question is, in fact, the absolutely new hypothesis of development of a reasonable civilization.

There comes a question – how it may happen that the "humanity" being in their right mind can make up their minds to create so powerful intellectual rivals being removed, at best,  to the background at their own free will. On the one hand such perspective can’t come to any agreement with biological, "human” necessities.

On the other hand one can’t help understanding that even realizing probable negative consequences of creation of AI it is impossible to stop working out this project proceeding, even, from reasons of defence. Thus, a significant and not very speculative challenge comes into existence. Does it have a significant solution? In this day and age we may give an affirmative answer – the challenge can be logically solved within the bounds of a hypothesis of transition. To understand it, it is necessary to consider the results of the program of searching for extraterrestrial civilizations existing more than a decade.


As a basis of the program lies a rather simple idea – try to discover signs (signals) of reasonable worlds with the help of radio engineering and astronomical means. According to the theory of probability which is impossible to argue with there should be a great amount of inhabited reasonable worlds in the Universe and the majority of them are to pass ahead of us for many thousand years.

These worlds are considered to create at lest three kinds of signals. The existence of the first kind is based on a simple "human" reason – as there are other inhabited worlds in the nature, most of which according to the theory of probability are much older than a terrestrial one, thus, "they" are sure to have already invented radio and, consequently, they have been sending round to the air the messages such as "Hello, intelligent brothers!” as the inhabitants of the Earth had repeatedly done.

The absence of such signals is explained by two reasons – by an imperfection (for the present) of our receiving equipment or by a mass unwillingness of civilizations to reveal their location. Both explanations are doubtful – if highly developed civilizations longed for being heard in radio diapason they would have technical means for it. The second explanation which is at a level of "space newcomers” and Hollywood star wars, on the whole, can be hardly considered as a serious one.

One also tries to find an indirect technogenic radiation in the space. Television and radio programs, all kinds of wireless communication including communication with space vehicles, radar radiation –there are plenty of this kind on the Earth nowadays, and  from the "human” point of view, higher developed civilizations should have them a hundred times more intensively developed. Totally mysterious absence of such kind of signals is usual to explain by the same limited possibilities of our technical means.

And finally, the last of the supposed signs of a reasonable civilization – is the traces of so called astroengeneering activity. This one is also a very "human" concept; it is "simple and natural": while running low of the planet-mother’s resorts it becomes inevitable for a conscious civilization to rush towards them to the space, they start there their economic activities, moves planets, creates something like sphere of Diason around it, etc, briefly, they actively colonize and use the space. It is no longer a call to intelligent brothers, it is difficult to hide anything there. However, the traces of "space building" either can’t be observed. The space is silent.

Thus, there are no expected results for the fifty years of the existence of Seti’s program. It may seem to be the waste of time and money. On the contrary, a negative result is sometimes not less significant than a positive one and often makes people look at the world differently.

And in this case it is possible to consider the "failures" of Seti as a successful proof of the most significant fact: even if there are the signals of "human" kind in the space, they are extremely weak and rare. In other words, there are no highly developed civilizations of such kind in the universe. Actually, from this very fact doctor Shostak makes a start in his hypothesis.

And it is quite relevant to notice that in the monograph "Nano Sapiens, or Silence of Heavens” (Moscow, 2005) we have come to similar conclusions about the predominance of civilizations of "machinery", "technological" kind over the space. Moreover, not the silent space but the analysis of perspectives of development of biological nanotechnologies, their influence on a person and the humanity was a starting point of his discoursing. The absence of highly developed civilizations of human kind was one of the consequences of the hypothesis of transition.

At the same time, in spite of the similar final result our model essentially differs from the hypothesis of the astronomer. For example, there is no challenge of the division of civilization into two: an "artificial" and a biological one, in our opinion, it allows to explain more accurately all the seeming paradoxes of absence of intelligent signals.


So, the idea that any intelligent civilization on a certain stage of its development after a biological (rather short) stage of its existence passes into a machinery, "technological" form, coincides with the concept of transition. With the exception of one but a key detail – biological intelligence doesn’t create a rival in the form of artificial machinery intelligence, but it itself becomes it; it "includes" AI in itself.

A starting point of the hypothesis of transition is in the assumption about the development of new technologies, firstly of biological nanotechnologies, will allow to start in rather close perspective an "internal reconstruction" of the physical carrier on our mind – a human body.

This process will start as a habitual medical activity with the usage of new "nano" methods but then in the process of development of technologies it will try to solve everlasting problems of aging and natural people’s death-rate. It is shown in the work that it is impossible to achieve radical results in these spheres remaining within the bounds of albumen phenomena.

That’s why rather soon we will come to a necessity of "transformation" of a human organism to an absolutely new non-biological kind of intelligent civilization developing not according to the laws of evolution but according to the logic of technical perfection.

It will reveal an opportunity of creating a more effective and protected, from the point of view of physical laws, existence of planetary intellect, it will allow to provide practically immortal existence of "soul", personality of this new creature.

At the same time it won’t appear from the "blank space". During a chain of transformations of a body, people’s consciousness will "smoothly" pass into a new form.

As a result, this new intellectual essence relatively designated as "nano sapiens" won’t have anything in common with "homo sapiens" except the capacity for thinking.

The analysis reveals that the next natural step of this, already technological, development will become the merging of all independent personalities into a united indissolubly connected "organism" – relatively designated as "mega sapiens".

Thus, the civilization of billions of independent personalities will merge, pass in one united civilization-personality. The planetary biological civilization will become a civilization of non-human, "artificial" intelligence which coincides with the assumption of doctor Shostak.

Meanwhile, there appears no conflict between biological and new technological civilizations – the latter inherits the former. From the point of view of fundamental physical principles such transformations are quite appropriate and, consequently, their realization is highly probable.

On the other hand, transition to technological rails is appropriate also as a solving not only of the problem of a person’s individual death-rate but also a global existence of planetary intellectual civilization, today’s biological basis of which differs by an extreme fragility and inability to resist even to rather insignificant climatic or space variations.

It is well-known that our planet isn’t unique; consequently, it is possible to consider that such processes characterize any biological civilization. Speaking differently, any intellectual civilization starts everywhere with biology and after having achieved a certain level of development proceeds as technological.

Thus, not the creation of AI but its natural struggle of biological intelligence for its existence leads to appearing of new technological civilizations.

Transition and Seti

But why "don’t we hear" technological civilizations? Everything is rather simple.

Astroengeneering activity should probably appear as a chase for resources and energy. By the way, doctor Shostak assumes such processes for machinery civilizations and he considers that on this purpose they should migrate to young stars or centers of galaxies.

Our opinion essentially differs. It is necessary to understand that there is a sharp drop in resources when passing to "mega sapiens" civilization, because it demands hundreds, thousands, billions times less maintenance for a united civilization-personality (even a rather demanding to it) than for the existence of billions independent (and wasteful enough) personalities.

Moreover, if the natural aim of biological life is a constant striving for increase in number and spatial expansion, the strategy of survival of a machinery civilization is absolutely different – it is "microminiaturisation", desire for  "diminishing" to more fundamental levels for the increase of physical steadiness, probably for an atomic level or a level of elementary particles.

This also means radical decrease of consumption of energy and substance. As a result, it isn’t necessary to "master" the space, resources of any planet will be enough for billions years. It is clear that there is also a sharp reduction of technogenic radiation – it is difficult to assume that "they" have a sort of entertaining TV-radio, mobile network etc.

In general, radio exchange is very slow even for interplanetary communication and it is absolutely unsuitable for an interstellar one. If they even have a necessity for communication with one another, they are likely to use other principles. Let’s imagine that "they” can influence parameters of elementary particles. But the particles are everywhere the "same”. Consequently, these changes will be momentarily displayed all over the Universe…

There is also no reason for "them" to send round some electromagnetic messages of "fraternal greeting2 special for "us". Everything is quite simple: to the space measures the interval of time when there is any sense in receiving such messages is a moment – from the invention of radio equipment till the moment of transition passes at about two hundred years. It is rather difficult to define such moments and there is no sense in it – after the transition civilizations themselves can quickly examine the situation.

It is true to say that the majestic (for us) Silence of the Universe is the confirmation of the reality of the universal model of transition.


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