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. As the physicist Enrico Fermi asked, “Where is everybody?” Even though the first interstellar object to be discovered in the solar system, ‘Oumuamua, had an unusually elongated shape as might be expected from an alien probe, it does not appear to maneuver and is radio-quiet below the level of a single cell phone.
True, a signal from an alien civilization might be subtle or sophisticated, but the disappointing silence of the sky may also indicate that long-lasting extrastellar civilizations do not use technologies that would make them visible to our telescopes.
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.
Could exoplanet politics explain Fermi’s paradox?
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