Dissolving the Fermi Paradox – Future of Humanity Institute

Source: Dissolving the Fermi Paradox – Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford, by Anders Sandberg, Eric Drexler & Toby Ord

Conclusion 1: the Fermi paradox isn’t very paradoxical

  • Overconfident guesses makes it seem hard to get empty universe
  • When our uncertainty is properly accounted for in the model, we find a substantial a priori chance that there is no other intelligent life in our observable universe, and thus that there should be little or no surprise when this is what we see.
  • Reasonable priors (or even the literature!) give enough uncertainty to make empty universe fairly likely
  • Note that this conclusion does not mean we are alone! Just that we should not be surprised if this is the case.
    (This is a statement about knowledge and priors, not a measurement: armchair astrobiology)

Conclusion 2: the great filter is likely in the past

  • Given the priors and the Fermi observation, the default guess should be that the low-probability term(s) are in the past.
  • Note that a past great filter does not imply our safety
    (The stars just don’t foretell our doom)