Who Are You Calling Intelligent

The terms in the Drake Equation are now becoming very uncertain indeed. Some scientists believe that it is possible that biological evolution is a universal phenomenon; that given time, life anywhere it exists will tend to evolve toward greater and greater complexity. If this is the case, intelligence will emerge (given sufficient time) wherever there is life. Others, however, believe that intelligence is not indispensable to survival and that, therefore, it is not the inevitable end of evolution. Are bacteria intelligent? They've done pretty well for themselves here.

Whatever this fraction actually may be, whether 1 or a number much, much smaller, we may need to reduce further by estimating what fraction of this fraction goes on to develop civilization and technology—fc in our equation.

Once again, estimates show wide variation, with some scientists believing that, given time, technology and civilization are inevitable developments of intelligence. Others argue that the connection is not inevitable and put this figure much lower. But we have now entered into the realm of social science and philosophy—unfamiliar turf for astronomers! Other complicating factors involve the correlation between intelligence and aggression. Are intelligent life forms destined to destroy themselves? Or do civilizations enter a time of peace, a pax planetaria? Also, will all civilizations have the desire to communicate?

Kurt Vonnegut once said that the ultimate purpose of humans might be to bring viruses to other planets.

Astro Byte

Kurt Vonnegut once said that the ultimate purpose of humans might be to bring viruses to other planets.

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