Before I go into the Dark Forest theory, I must explain the Fermi Paradox. The Fermi Paradox is a scientific contradiction between the high likeliness of other forms of life existing somewhere else in the Universe and the fact that, despite our space exploration efforts no evidence was found till this day. No spaceships landing asking if we'd like to join the United Galactic Planets Mailing List, no wandering space trash bumping into our satellites, not even 200 thousand year old lost radio signals reaching us from some distant star. Its just weird - there are 100 billion stars in Milky Way galaxy alone and each one of these stars probably has a few planets orbiting it, even considering that only a very small fraction of those planets had the necessary conditions for life and that only a fraction of those life forms would reach a sentient level, that would still make for a few hundred million chances for intelligent life to have appeared.
Some theories claim that space is too vast, that the likeliness of intelligent life is too rare or that intelligent life is intrinsically destined to destroy itself (wow #climatestrike anyone?!), but one theory is much darker than all the rest: the Dark Forest Theory.
The Dark Forest Theory starts by postulating that:
-All life strives to survive
-There is no way to know if any other life forms will destroy you given the chance
-The only way to ensure survival is to remain silent and watchful
So, metaphorically speaking, the Dark Forest Theory considers the whole Universe a dark forest at night and every civilization an armed soldier, sneaking carefully through the trees, every breath silent, every step cautious, because there are may be other soldiers in the dark, waiting for their chance to take a shot and kill before risking the chance of being killed.
Why is this so scary for us?
Because we have been sending out signals for the last 100 years. Every radio station, every TV channel, every Wi-Fi connection has been going out into the Universe without any chance for us to stop its broadcast, so every civilization in a 100 light-year radio could be silently monitoring us and thinking just how stupid we are.
The rule of thumb being, if you were in a forest at night, would you really be screaming to the top of your lungs, calling out to any predators that may be out there?
Yep, that's us.
Since we never really considered that there may, actually, be someone out there, our curiosity has surpassed our self-preservation.
"The universe is a dark forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost, gently pushing aside branches that block the path and trying to tread without sound. Even breathing is done with care. The hunter has to be careful, because everywhere in the forest are stealthy hunters like him. If he finds another life—another hunter, angel, or a demon, a delicate infant to tottering old man, a fairy or demigod—there’s only one thing he can do: open fire and eliminate them." - Liu Cixin, The Dark Forest
This post was originally featured on Narrative.org
(Initial Image Attribution: https://pixabay.com/photos/night-photograph-flashlight-ray-2183637/)