Thinking in the Universe – Are there Intelligent Species in the Galaxy?
In his book “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” in chapter three, Stephen Hawking raised the question of whether there can be intelligent living beings in the universe. My answer would be “yes” – there must be intelligent and thinking beings in the universe. But first the question has to be answered what thought processes are needed for – in general.
Thinking becomes necessary living in a changing environment. Through calculating or holistic thinking processes, changes can be anticipated and the chance of survival of a species can systematically be increased. And it can also be assumed that most environments in the universe will change.
Even at the quantum level it can be seen that location and impulse cannot be determined simultaneously. This unpredictability is already hidden in the micro level and probably continues onto the macro level. Conversely, it can be concluded that the unpredictability of many worlds in the universe increases the chance for thinking living beings. On a galactic scale, there should therefore be a multitude of beings who gain an advantage by thinking.
This of course raises the question why we haven’t been visited by extraterrestrials long ago. Stephen Hawking himself gives a possible answer: probably, the aggressive species have usually destroyed themselves, while the peaceful ones have no interest in reaching or destroying other habitable planets.