Extraterrestrials for Humanity

A research project to estimate the expected lifetime of intelligent civilisations.

Whilst we do not have multiple versions of humanity to test the risk of self-destruction, the Drake equation tells us that we (probably) have multiple intelligent civilisations in the observable galaxy. Failing to detect signs of them suggests that civilisations tend to self-destruct early in their lifespan.

The project uses expert elicitation, astrophysics and astrobiology research, and Bayesian statistics to use this absence to estimate the lifespan of intelligent civilisations. It will lead to an academic paper, an interactive visualisation and a press release.

Why the argument works: we are not able to do experiments on what will wipe out humanity. However, the data we have are the civilisations that must exist or have existed before and have not yet communicated with us. These civilisations and ours form a sample that we should get all the information we can out of.

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