Will aliens be delicate, hairless creatures with big almond eyes, as UFO fans believe – or big slimy, green blobs with eyes on stalks?
Probably neither, scientists say – the first aliens we encounter are likely to be machines, and they’ll be almost unimaginably old.
Susan Schneider of the University of Connectict and the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton says that alien AI may already be out there, and could be billions of years old.
Schneider says, "I do not believe that most advanced alien civilisations will be biological. The most sophisticated civilisations will be post-biological, forms of artificial intelligence or alien super-intelligence."
Schneider said in a Daily Galaxy report, ‘all lines of evidence converge on the conclusion that the maximum age of extraterrestrial intelligence would be billions of years, specifically ranges from 1.7 billion to 8 billion years.’
Many researchers believe that the first aliens we encounter will be robots.
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The reason? It’s all about probability – and how long it takes alien civilisations to evolve from developing radio communications to becoming immortal cyborgs.
Many scientists believe that the period from the discovery of radio waves, to organisms turning themselves into immortal robots will be relatively brief.
The upshot of this is that it’s far, far more likely that we’ll meet aliens after they’ve turned into machines, according to experts.
Seth Shostak of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence says, "Consider the fact that any signal we pick up has to come from a civilisation at least as advanced as we are.
"Now, let’s say, conservatively, the average civilisation will use radio for 10,000 years. From a purely probabilistic point of view, the chance of encountering a society far older than ourselves is quite high."