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New model predicts that were probably the only advanced civilization in the observable universe Universal-Sci

As Dr. Sandberg told Universe Today via email:

One can answer [the Fermi Paradox] by saying intelligence is very rare, but then it needs to be tremendously rare. Another possibility is that intelligence doesnt last very long, but it is enough that one civilization survives for it to become visible. Attempts at explaining it by having all intelligences acting in the same way (staying quiet, avoiding contact with us, transcending) fail since they require every individual belonging to every society in every civilization to behave in the same way, the strongest sociological claim ever. Claiming long-range settlement or communication are impossible requires assuming a surprisingly low technology ceiling. Whatever the answer is, it more or less has to be strange.

In this latest study, Sandberg, Drexler and Ord reconsider the parameters of the Drake Equation by incorporating models of chemical and genetic transitions on paths to the origin of life. From this, they show that there is a considerable amount of scientific uncertainties that span multiple orders of magnitude. Or as Dr. Sandberg explained it:

Many parameters are very uncertain given current knowledge. While we have learned a lot more about the astrophysical ones since Drake and Sagan in the 1960s, we are still very uncertain about the probability of life and intelligence. When people discuss the equation it is not uncommon to hear them say something like: this parameter is uncertain, but lets make a guess and remember that it is a guess, finally reaching a result that they admit is based on guesses. But this result will be stated as single number, and that anchors us to an *apparently* exact estimate when it should have a proper uncertainty range.  This often leads to overconfidence, and worse, the Drake equation is very sensitive to bias: if you are hopeful a small nudge upwards in several uncertain estimates will give a hopeful result, and if you are a pessimist you can easily get a low result.

As such, Sandberg, Drexler and Ord looked at the equations parameters as uncertainty ranges. Instead of focusing on what value they might have, they looked at what the largest and smallest values they could have based on current knowledge. Whereas some values have become well constrained such as the number of planets in our galaxy based on exoplanet studies and the number that exist within a stars habitable zone others remain far more uncertain.

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