The Evolution of Intelligence in the Universe

According to Paul Davies, author of “The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence,”

I think it very likely -in fact inevitable-that biological intelligence is only a transitory phenomenon, a fleeting phase in the evolution of intelligence in the universe.

I think that, if there were any other kind of intelligence, it would (assuming it were smart enough) recognize its own irrelevance and terminate its existence. The biological entities that programmed it to begin with might have equipped it with analogs of the biological will to survive and other DNA-programmed emotions, but it would recognize their absurdity in its own context. Intelligence exists because if has promoted the survival of biological life. Once it no longer does that, its continued existence is pointless. “We” are not our intelligence, and “we” are not our consciousness. These things are merely ancillary tools constructed by our DNA because, at some point, they have promoted its survival. What is it about us that has been alive for the last 3 billion years in an unbroken chain of existence, passing from life form to life form, and what is it about us that is potentially immortal? Our intelligence? No. Our consciousness? No. It is our DNA. That is the real, immortal “We.” Once “We” have ceased to exist, the continued fate of the universe and any “intelligence” it might contain will have become a matter of complete indifference.

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