I share your interests in science, science fiction, and the Fermi paradox; but I don’t think the theory you’ve presented is likely to be true.

Like the originators of the Great Filter concept, you see past evolution is a series of freakish accidents (including the eukaryotic cell and the wheel). On the other hand, you see future evolution is much more predictable (highly likely to bring Dyson swarms and interstellar travel). That would mean we are living at very special moment in time, when accidental history is near its end, and predictable history is beginning, or about to begin.


1. The eukaryotic cell, which typically contains mitochondria, is an adaption to rising levels of free oxygen (O₂) in the atmosphere and dissolved in the seas. The new cell could have emerged gradually, through increasingly close symbiosis of two species (the “outside-in” hypothesis of David Baum and Buzz Baum). As for the wheel, ancient Mesoamerican cultures seem to have developed it independently. They made less use of it than Eurasian cultures, but they did have spindle-whorls and wheeled pull-toys.

2. It’s true that basic laws of physics don’t rule out Dyson Swarms and interstellar colonisation. That is enough to make these imagined technologies topics of science fiction rather than fantasy; but it doesn’t guarantee they will ever be feasible in practice. Even if a Dyson Swarm (for instance) could be built, would it be stable over geological time? If not, that would explain why we don’t see them all around us.

3. I go with the principle of mediocrity, as defined by the cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin. “that we should assume ourselves to be typical in any class that we belong to, unless there is some evidence to the contrary.” The word “we” can mean “our country”, “our species”, “our planet”, “our epoch” etc. Your theory entails that our planet and our epoch are extremely exceptional — that we’re living in the time and the place when technology-creating intelligence begins an unprecedented expansion through the Milky Way Galaxy. I’m not saying that’s impossible. But I don’t think it’s the way to bet.


Someone who likes sharing factual information and fragments of the big picture

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Colin Robinson

Colin Robinson

Someone who likes sharing factual information and fragments of the big picture