When humanity eventually meets an alien civilisation, the ETs will almost certainly be artificially-intelligent robots, predicts the Astronomer Royal, Lord Rees of Ludlow.
And it’s likely that sooner or later, we’ll have been replaced by AI robots too.
Lord Rees told the Cheltenham Science Festival that mankind would almost certainly be “superseded” by artificially intelligent super-robots within the next millennium.
Lord Rees says that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is likely to turn up something very unlike us.
“What will we expect this life to be like? I think if we were to detect anything . . . it would not be a flesh and blood civilisation like ours, it will be something robotic and electronic.”
The robots we’re creating today, Lord Rees said, are the first steps on the road to a civilisation of synthetic AI lifeforms that will last for far longer than humanity ever could.
He said: “It is certainly on the cards that after a few centuries more… 1,000 years… we will have been superseded by electronic entities and they will be near immortal and could go on for the rest of the universe’s history.”
Lord Rees added that the same process is likely to have already played out on other planets across the galaxy: “[Another inhabited planet] would be likely to be far behind the Earth, with no evidence of intelligence, or far ahead, in which case we would see the remote electronic progeny of some long-dead civilisation.”
SETI expert Seth Shostak agrees that any interstellar travellers will have left their biological bodies far behind and the first extraterrestrial entities we meet will be AI-based rather than living beings.
'Tic Tac UFOs' could have been on Earth for 'very long time', expert claims
Seth told the Daily Star that it's impossible to guess what their motives would be: “Given that they would be more likely to be machines than living beings anyway, it’d be hard to gauge what they’d be interested in.”
Meanwhile, at a NASA press conference Bill Nelson, the agency’s new boss, said an investigation into whether extraterrestrials had visited the Earth was already under way.
Nelson, a former astronaut himself, has asked scientists to examine recent authenticated UFO sightings. One encounter being examined dates from 2004.
The famous “Tic Tac” sighting was made by two US navy pilots who saw the sea “churning” beneath a smooth, white “tic-tac”-like object that zoomed away from them at incredible speed.
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At the conference, Nelson said there had been “hundreds” of sightings of unexplained aerial phenomena – or UFOs – in recent years and “We’re taking this very seriously.”
He promised that NASA would “approach this subject from a scientific standpoint since we are a scientific research organisation”.
When one reporter asked if the objects seen buzzing US warships and other military installation s could be hostile, he said: “Do I think it’s an enemy? I hope it isn’t, because the navy pilots would describe it as, ‘It’s here and then it’s over there, with no time in between,’ ” he said.
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