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I didn't mention one of the theories in this video, which is that all of the aliens are hiding from each other because there is some terrible insidious force in the universe that punishes anyone who is loud.

This doesn't really seem likely to me because, look, malevolence is actually pretty rare in nature. Much more common is "I need that, you're using it, I don't care about you, so die" not "I am going to spend a bunch of resources SPECIFICALLY TO COME AND GET YOU."

I also kind mis-stated the "Great Filter" hypothesis, because the filter could either be before or after the point where humans currently are, so it's kinda wrapped up in both the first and the second bits.


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Good morning, John, I've happily upgraded my filming situation in airports to a little booth that I pay for. And also I can change the lighting if I want. I'm gonna stick with aqua. So the question that I propose to you today is: Is it a good thing or a bad thing that we have not yet seen aliens? 'Cause it's for sure gotta be one or the other, right? So the lack of space aliens becomes a bit of a problem once you know how big the universe is and you start doing a little bit of math. If there's a hundred million stars in our galaxy, and it seems like most of them have solar systems, it would be really weird if this were the only solar system in the galaxy where there was some kind of civilization building life.

One thing that were know about us is that we take up the available space. And definitely traveling between stars is very hard, but it does not seem to be impossible. So if that's the case, then the entire galaxy becomes available space. And so, it seems it's good news that we haven't seen aliens yet because if we did, we would be part of their available space. But it is important to recognize taking up all of the available space is not just a human thing. If they could, the ants would make the whole Earth ants; trees would make the whole Earth trees; bacteria would make the whole Earth bacteria; camels would make the whole Earth camels. That's not a human thing, that's how genes work. So given that 1: all life that we know of takes up all of its available space and 2: we are not yet part of someone else's available space, we have, I think, three options.

Number 1: We can definitely say, with absolute certainty, that it is possible for a thing like humans to happen in the galaxy 'cause it's happened. I'm sitting in a pod at an airport, so that's possible. However, the universe is 13.7 billion years old, and while life on Earth has existed for about 28% of that time, which is a lot, civilization life has existed for a vanishingly small amount of time; just a couple hundred thousand years on the outside. 

Life on Earth is not a blip. But we are a blip in terms of time. So it is possible, and I do not love this, that while it does happen that civilizations occur in the universe, they do not last very long. We would conquer the galaxy if we had the time, but we simply do not. We do not have the time because things like this just don't last. This is talked about a lot in the sort of communities where this stuff is discussed that there's even a term for it that, uh, there's a Great Filter. So the Great Filter is just the thing that prevents civilizations from existing for long periods of time. Whatever it is, it could be AI, it could be global warming or nuclear weapons or, uh, social media. Maybe TikTok is what does it, like, yo-we don't know!

And the second option is also a bit of a lonely one that it's not that this doesn't last a long time, like maybe we will last a long long time, but it just doesn't happen a lot. And maybe it only happens one time per galaxy or less than one time per galaxy and the Milky Way just got lucky. And in that case, we both alone and extraordinarily special.

But there is a third option that I do not hear people talking about very much, and to me, it would be very good news. Maybe this property of life, that it takes up the space available to it, is something that you can get beyond. Maybe, we are already seeing a species on this planet do that, to start to pump the brakes a little bit. Maybe that species is us, the first species ever that's starting to think about not just taking up the available space.

Is it possible that sufficiently advanced species with sufficiently advanced philosophies and societies start to think more about quality than quantity? Maybe there are a lot of civilizations in the Milky Way, but maybe they don't take up a lotta space. Maybe there's just not very loud. Maybe they found a way to put a break on their instincts, and maybe we, right now, are in the very beginnings of a similar shift. And in that case: Maybe someday we will solve the Fermi Paradox by becoming its solution and that would be pretty cool.

And since I have, uh, six seconds left in the timer, John, I'll see you on Tuesday.