Would advanced aliens be entirely mechanical? Or like octopuses?

Reflect on a recent open-access study on PNAS, notes astrophysicist Dirk Schulze-Makuch at BigThink a few things that separate truly intelligent lifeforms from others. One of them, he speculates, is bilateral symmetry (life forms whose left and right sides are mirror images): “symmetry requires less information for DNA to encode and allows more flexibility to develop future traits that may be advantageous”.

He also notes that intelligent life forms tend to be mobile rather than stationary: “We don’t know of any intelligent plants or fungi, for the simple reason that stationary things don’t need to be intelligent.”

Well, wait. It’s not that stationary lifeforms don’t need to be intelligent that… what good would that do them?

He urges us to consider the octopus:

But consider the octopus, which has a rather different body plan, with neurons spread throughout its body, including the tentacles, and only a small brain in its head. Notably, the octopus is the oldest species on our list, our furthest evolutionary relative. An alien, of course, would have no connection to us, so we should probably think more in terms of an octopus than an elephant when imagining what aliens would look like.

Dirk Schulze Makuch, “What do aliens look like?” to think big (April 13, 2022) the article is open access.

Moreover, he wisely considers convergent evolution. In other words, what works is what can possibly make sense.

And then,

We humans already incorporate assistive devices into our bodies like contact lenses, pacemakers, and all kinds of prosthetics. Aliens can very well use mechanical bodies with downloadable brains or can be completely mechanical – think Commander Data from Star Trek.

Dirk Schulze Makuch, “What do aliens look like?” to think big (April 13, 2022) the article is open access.

Alright, but Commander Data? Couldn’t this be a failure on a galactic level? Hey, we’ll see.

You can also read: NASA Develops Scale to Assess Chances of Extraterrestrial Life We’ve come a long way from just snippets of information (maybe) to needing standards to gauge expected incoming mass. The idea is to give the media an idea of ​​the level of confidence in what the apparent signal might be telling us – biological activity or just chemistry?

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