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A visualization of the Milky Way
A visualization of the Milky Way, created by Melodysheep. Source: Melodysheep (opens in a new tab)


Now that we have looked at possible filters and found out that our way of looking for life outside of our solar system isn't wrong at all, we can postulate possible solutions to the Fermi Paradox.

1. The Great Filter is behind us

This would make us a cosmic exception. We would be the "center of the universe" - which, to be honest, rather reminds me of the Middle Ages. Another explanation for it would be that the universe was less life-friendly in the last couple billions of years than now and we currently are in a quiet, pleasant phase of the development of the universe. Consequently, before our existence either no other living beings would have developed or would have been extinguished again already in an early stage - by gamma ray bursts, for example. This would also mean, however, that right now for the first time it became possible for living beings to originate at all. It is therefore conceivable that in the future we will begin to colonize our galaxy at the same time as other species do, because they developed synchronously to us.

Other intelligent species could have also failed to emerge from unconscious life at all. They might have lost the fight against a plague - we weren't exactly far from that when the plague wiped out a third of europe in the 14th century. They might have killed each others or made the planet inhabitable in a nuclear war or by accidentially inventing rogue AI. There is a lot of possible filter we have already overcome and other civilizations have probably fell to more than one of them in the past.

Obviously, this is one of my favorite solutions because it would mean there isn't any watcher civilization around while also enabling us to trade and life alongside with other species if we ever manage to find some.

2. The Great Filter is in front of us

Since we got the basics down (existing, surviving major pandemics, no nuclear wars yet, no terminator yet), there's not too much that could possibly be a Great Filter right in front of us. Since we are currently trying to become multiplanetary and will probably succeed at that within the next century, any upcoming Great Filter has to lie within this century's timeframe.

The climate clock, indicating how much time we have left to reach the 1.5 degree target. Source: Climate Clock (opens in a new tab)

It might aswell be climate change, since using fossil fuels is most probably something other intelligent species would reside to in their industrialization, too. Another possible filter in front of us might be hostile artificial intelligence or the discovery of a hazardous technology so fundamental for every species to discover that all of them will give it a try. This rings a bell and reminds me of Chernobyl, however we survived that, even if only with inacceptable losses.

3. There is undetectable alien life

Alien life could be undetectable for us for a handful of reasons. Apart from our detection systems being flawed or incomplete, it is possible that other civilizations are able to disguise their existence deliberately, so to speak, to avoid the potentially lethal contact with other living beings or to not be detectable by watcher civilizations. One way to do this was suggested by two scientists namely Kipping and Teachey some time ago: the Earth's biosignatures would be able to be manipulated by superimposing artificially generated laser beams on them to make it appear to outsiders as if the atmosphere of our planet would not allow for life to form. This could explain why we have found only uninhabited planets.

Stephen Hawking spoke about this on multiple occasions, claiming that if any alien species would ever contact us, it would most likely be because they are looking for a new home planet, their next colonization target or possibly just our resources. It's not unthinkable for other lifeforms to try and dodge such an encounter by not appearing on other's radars in the first place.

4. We already found alien life

Easily the most exciting and most recently backed solution is that we have found alien life - or much rather, they found and visited us - but we aren't fully aware of it yet. In 2020, the Pentagon released three videos showing what they, after thorough investigations, could not identify as an aircraft of their own nor any other country's air defense. So to speak, they published videos showing UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon), formerly known as UFOs (Unidentified Flying Object).

Additionally to that, multiple Navy Jet Pilots together with their Navy Commander recently shared publicly what they - all together at the same time - saw and reported throughout their service at the NAVY. Reportedly, they detected spherical aircrafts 80,000 feet above sea levels that descended down to just a couple hundred feet, being about 50 feet away from their cockpit in less than a second, without leaving any propulsion traces or heat signals: A technology no country on earth has invented yet. They also claimed the footage published by the government is the least compelling there is, indicating there's more.

A YouTube video interviewing the NAVY Pilots who saw the UAP aircraft. Source: YouTube, 60 Minutes (opens in a new tab)

To cut in on that story for a second, I personally am not a fan of conspiracy theories and like to base my views on replicatable and provable evidence. However, the more weak evidence you get for any given phenomenon, the more unlikely it is for exactly all of them to be flawed. That being said, feel free to take a look at the video above, it's exciting to say the very least.

5. Earth lies in a lonely part of the Milky Way

Since the signals we emitted only reached about 100 light years by now, which translates to about 0.1% of the entire galaxy, it's possible that Earth lies in a rather lonesome part of the galaxy while others are bursting with life.

6. Advanced alien species have better to do

A civilization that builds Space Habs and colonizes its solar system with them might conclude that this level of expansion is enough for their kind. They may have no interest in exploring the rest of the galaxy. They could also be storing their memories in a so called "Matrioshka brain" and put it into a simulation of a universe which is much more pleasant than life in our universe. More information about the concept of the Matrioshka brain can be found in the sources document.

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Additional Resources

  1. If you are interested in learning more about the NAVY pilots UAP (UFO) sightings during their service, this right here is a great video summary and here's a podcast episode from Lex Fridman with one of the NAVY Pilots, going into a lot more detail.