The Dark Forest Theory: Horrible Theory Explains Absence of Alien Contact

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The Fermi Paradox questions where the a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳s are if the universe is full of them. According to the Dark Forest theory, we should hope we never find them.

There are 200 billion stars in the Milky Way and potentially 100 billion planets. Our Galaxy would be associated with a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳ c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳s̳ if even a small fraction of those planets harbored life, and even if only a pitiful scattering of those planets had intelligent life forms, some of them would have been looking for us humans.

The Drake equation, which converts the above elements into variables, can be used to calculate the number of e̳x̳t̳r̳a̳t̳e̳r̳r̳e̳s̳t̳r̳i̳a̳l̳ c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳s̳ the galaxy should have. When you plug them into the calculation, you get a number of c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳s̳ in our cosmic neighborhood of at least 20. When you consider this, the fact that we have yet to discover any other life in the universe is almost shocking.

Fermi\’s paradox is the apparent contradiction between how many advanced c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳s̳ there should be in space and the lack of evidence for any. During the last decades, it has generated a large number of explanations and proposed answers.

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Many of the proposed solutions point to one of the variables in the Drake equation, trying to reduce the supposed number of c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳s̳ to make it more plausible that we have not yet met anyone.

Some argue that life begins infrequently, while others argue that growth of the intellect is the bottleneck, and still others argue that most c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳s̳ would last only a short time before exploding or, conversely, never succeed. build the radio.

A solution that sounds scary than the others

The Dark Forest theory proposes that a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳s are purposely silent, which explains why we haven\’t heard from them. The best explanation is found in Liu Cixin\’s science fiction novel “The Dark Forest.” The plot of the novel, which is the second in a series, revolves around how to interact with potentially hostile a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳ species.

Here\’s how the plot is laid out in the novel:

All of life wants to stay alive.
There is no way of knowing if other life forms can or will destroy you if given the chance.
Without guarantees, the safest option for any species is to annihilate other life forms before they have a chance to do the same.

Because all other lifeforms in the novel are risk-averse and prepared to do their best to save themselves, every contact is risky, as the contacted race will almost certainly annihilate anyone who has been foolish enough to do so. to reveal your position. As a result, all c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳s̳ strive to hide in the silence of the radio.

The reasoning behind the paranoia is explained in this paragraph from the novel:

The universe is a dark forest. Every c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳ is an armed hunter who stalks through the trees like a ghost, gently pushing away the branches that block the path and trying to walk without sound. Even breathing is done carefully. The hunter must be careful, because everywhere in the forest there are stealth h̳u̳n̳t̳e̳r̳s̳ like him. If he finds another life, another hunter, an angel or a demon, a delicate baby to a tottering old man, a fairy or a demigod, he can do only one thing: open fire and eliminate them.

The concept is based on applied game theory and is similar to the Prisoner\’s Dilemma.

Is there a non-literary solution to this problem? Is it just a fantastic concept or something else?

Scientist David Brin proposed it as a possible answer to the paucity of radio evidence of e̳x̳t̳r̳a̳t̳e̳r̳r̳e̳s̳t̳r̳i̳a̳l̳ life. The underlying notion remains the same, although the way he describes uses robotic probes to kill c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳s̳ other than the one he developed it from. He explains why this method is attractive for scientific purposes but disturbing for existential reasons in this excerpt:

“It is consistent with all the philosophical facts and principles described in the first part of this article. It is not necessary to fight to remove elements from the Drake equation in order to explain the Great Silence, nor is it necessary to suggest that no ETIS anywhere would bear the cost of interstellar travel. It only needs to happen once for the results of this scenario to become the equilibrium condition in the Galaxy. We would not have detected e̳x̳t̳r̳a̳t̳e̳r̳r̳e̳s̳t̳r̳i̳a̳l̳ radio traffic, nor would any ETIS have settled on Earth, because they all died shortly after discovering radio. ”

He then tells us that the I Love Lucy broadcasts are circling the universe, ready to reveal our location and sense of humor to anyone who can catch them.

Is the dark forest theory plausible?

The dark forest theory has the advantage of changing only one of the variables in the Drake equation, the one that is most open to interpretation. It does not require making broad assumptions about the behavior of all a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳ c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳s̳; a single sophisticated race acting in this manner would be sufficient to generate the observed scenario.

This would also explain why, despite having the ability to detect ordinary e̳x̳t̳r̳a̳t̳e̳r̳r̳e̳s̳t̳r̳i̳a̳l̳ radio transmissions for over a century, we cannot find any. Another c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳ is likely to send radio messages addressed to us into space, just as we have.

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Another explanation is that the other c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳s̳ are so afraid of being discovered that they deliberately avoid sending any radio evidence of their existence. It presumes that other species have a level of risk aversion and a thought process comparable to ours, or that there is a c̳i̳v̳i̳l̳i̳z̳a̳t̳i̳o̳n̳ that kills anyone who threatens them. This is a great assumption to make.

What makes this theory dark?

For almost a century, we have been screaming our existence out to the universe. Any a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳ within 100 light years of us would be bombarded with radio transmissions from our path. We could have a problem if we had the purpose of preventing a̳l̳i̳e̳n̳s from knowing us, as Stephen Hawking believed.

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