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SALON: Intelligent Alien Life: Little Green Men or Machines?
In 2015, the Kepler Space Telescope spotted a star system emitting light patterns so bizarre, even serious scientists hypothesized they could be evidence of an “alien megastructure.” However remote, the possibility conjured images of alien creatures – green or otherwise – building and buzzing around their massive space station.
But a growing chorus of physicists and astrobiologists – from NASA and the Royal Society, London to the Breakthrough Listen project and beyond – argue this image of aliens as a biological lifeform is all wrong. They say intelligent life beyond Earth is more likely to be robotic.
As Royal Astronomer Martin Rees explains, “Abstract thinking by biological brains has underpinned the emergence of all culture and science. But this activity—spanning tens of millennia at most—will be a brief precursor to the more powerful intellects of the inorganic post-human era.” As Rees explains, organic brains aren’t built to last. Not only do they possess limited computational power, but the cold, dark environs of space and the demands of interstellar travel are simply inhospitable to biological life as we know it.
But if, in fact, alien life has transitioned to machine intelligence, what does it mean for our ongoing search for extraterrestrials? And what does it say about Mankind’s fate here on Earth? We’ll gather a multidisciplinary team of astronomers, roboticists and evolutionary biologists to ponder the implications of the existence of – and possible contact with – an artificial alien intelligence so vastly superior to our own.
What is a Salon event?
World Science Festival Brisbane SALON events invite you to dive deeper into the science of specific topics, these informal discussions challenge participants to consider their shared passions from a fresh perspective.
By starting a dialogue, the Salon is designed to spark new explorations of science by the participants and the audience. The Salon sessions are smaller in capacity so audience and participants can enter into conversation at a detailed and thorough level.
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