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Could nearby alien civilizations be more primitive, and therefore undetectable?

| | January 16, 2018

Editor’s note: Abraham Loeb is chair of the astronomy department at Harvard University

As we discover numerous habitable planets around other stars in the Milky Way galaxy, including the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, one cannot help but wonder why we have not yet detected evidence for an alien civilization.

Based on our own experience, we expect that civilizations much older than ours will be scientifically savvy and hence technologically advanced. But it is also possible that a simpler lifestyle rather than scientific prosperity has dominated the political landscape on other planets, leading to old civilizations that are nevertheless technologically primitive.

We could search for the remnants of technological civilizations from afar. But if we detect nothing through our telescopes, the only way to find out whether long-lived civilizations are technologically primitive is to visit their planets. Astrosociology could become a particularly exciting frontier of exploration as we venture into space.

Over the billions of years available to our technological civilization to explore the Milky Way, we could compile a sociological census of billions of exoplanets. And even if we find mostly faith-based alien cultures instead of advanced infrastructure that would accelerate our own technological development, it would be fascinating to explore the diversity of galactic interpretations of the concept of God.

Read full, original post: Are Alien Civilizations Technologically Advanced?

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