AI and the Great Filter...


Two researchers have revised the Drake equation, a mathematical formula for the probability of finding life or advanced civilizations in the universe.

University of Rochester. Are We Alone in the Universe? Revisiting the Drake Equation, NASA

Topics: Astrobiology, Astrophysics, Artificial Intelligence, Civilization, SETI


This study examines the hypothesis that the rapid development of Artificial Intelligence (AI), culminating in the emergence of Artificial Superintelligence (ASI), could act as a "Great Filter" that is responsible for the scarcity of advanced technological civilizations in the universe. It is proposed that such a filter emerges before these civilizations can develop a stable, multiplanetary existence, suggesting the typical longevity (L) of a technical civilization is less than 200 years. Such estimates for L, when applied to optimistic versions of the Drake equation, are consistent with the null results obtained by recent SETI surveys, and other efforts to detect various techno-signatures across the electromagnetic spectrum. Through the lens of SETI, we reflect on humanity's current technological trajectory – the modest projections for L suggested here, underscore the critical need to quickly establish regulatory frameworks for AI development on Earth and the advancement of a multiplanetary society to mitigate against such existential threats. The persistence of intelligent and conscious life in the universe could hinge on the timely and effective implementation of such international regulatory measures and technological endeavors.

Is artificial intelligence the great filter that makes advanced technical civilizations rare in the universe? Michael A. Garrett, Acta Astronautica, Volume 219, June 2024, Pages 731-735

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