What If We Weren’t Alone on the Planet

Hi there! As far as we know today, humanity is the only
intelligent species there is. And while astronomers keep searching for extraterrestrials,
it got me thinking: what if some other sentient lifeform were right here on Earth? What would they be and what would it mean
for us? Think about it: even if we find some other
civilization among the stars, how prepared would we be to meet another intelligent being
that isn’t human? It could become a problem for us. But if we were used to sharing our home with
other non-human civilizations, we’d be much more equipped to engage in negotiations with
aliens. Who knows, maybe we’d have already found
them by now if we were prepared for that encounter by learning from other beings here on Earth. And this possibility isn’t as abstract as
it seems. Several scenarios could lead us to share our
planet with another sentient species. They could’ve evolved for millions of years
alongside us. They might come here from another place somewhere
among the stars. It could even be that we already live with
some kind of planetary-scale neighbors right now, but still don’t fully understand them. But we’ll return to this point a bit later. At the very least, we aren’t the only sentient
species that ever lived on the Earth. I’m not talking about prehistoric lizard-people,
or any other pseudoscientific nonsense here. I’m talking about Neanderthals.They looked
very much like us and were also ancestors of primates. Their brains were even bigger than ours, and
they used tools and cooked food. They weren’t as intelligent as humans, but
they had a way of communicating with each other. Then, some 40,000 years ago, they all went
extinct, leaving us alone to build the foundation for our future civilizations. It’s a sad story that we all know, except
it’s not entirely true. In reality, we lived alongside this similarly
developed species for around 5,000 years. There’s evidence in some remains found in
the territory of today’s Europe that humans lived with Neanderthals. And it even worked out quite well, actually! It’s not enough that our DNAs are around
99% similar. There were humans who lived with them and
have shared offspring; and it wasn’t some unique case, but a common occurrence. To this day, parts of the Neanderthals’
DNA, around 1 or 2 percent, are sometimes found in human DNA. So, we have our answer. If Neanderthals lived with us and never went
extinct, we probably wouldn’t even notice them now. We’d already be assimilated with each other
too well to even separate who’s a Neanderthal and who’s a Homo Sapien. Other than that Neanderthal down the block
who plays his music really loud at 3am. Or in another case, if neither of us were
keen on interbreeding, they’d have evolved and developed into a separate civilization
just like we did. To us, they’d just be some separate nation
that lives by its own rules, and with whom we’d have economic and political relationships. But if we were to find out that some other
lifeform had evolved until now and has nothing in common with us at all – that would definitely
be another deal. And our prime candidates are not primate at
all. Some social monkey-like creatures, like chimpanzees
or gorillas, are capable of using simple tools and communicating with each other. Yet, they feel quite comfortable in their
own place and aren’t rushing to be alongside humans. Cats, dogs, and crows are intelligent, sure,
but their wit is all about adapting to humans and not necessarily evolving into something
separate. Dolphins, though – they’re our closest
rivals in the way of intelligence. First, we need to clarify what qualifies as
an intellectually developed species. The one of many signs of intelligence in a
lifeform is its ability to think abstractly. This ability is demonstrated in complex problem-solving
tests, which will verify if the subject, like a crow or an octopus, can solve a task by
going through several steps. One important thing here. If the solution includes using some kind of
tool, this tool shouldn’t be familiar to the test subject. For example, you can leave an octopus with
a small hammer and a container with a treat inside. It’ll take some time, but the octopus will
figure out that it can lift the hammer, and that it’s heavy enough to break the container. The fact that the octopus had never seen a
hammer before shouldn’t deter it. So, the solution doesn’t come from the experience,
but from the ability to immediately find a use for a tool based on its qualities. In other terms, some species can learn things
and collect knowledge just like we do. That’s impressive, but not enough. Abstract thinking implies a complex social
behavior, which allows a species to communicate, pass on newly obtained knowledge, and cooperate
on solving a problem. And on that level, only dolphins and whales
can truly shine. It’s already been proved that dolphins and
some toothed whales have a complex system of signals, which even include calling each
other by names. Their intelligence is quite developed, but
absolutely alien to ours. Their only limitation to interacting with
the world around them is their body; especially its lack of hands. They can only innovate and experiment as much
as their bodies allow them. Considering all that, a hypothetical world
where we share our home planet with an intelligent ocean species is looking pretty good. The ocean covers more than half of the Earth’s
surface, and we have no major claims on that territory since we’re used to living on
land. Maybe they’d provide us better ways of navigation
and transoceanic transportation; or ensure our safety in the ocean. After all, dolphins are already known to accompany
ships and save people from drowning. Even if, in all reality, it’s more of a
game for them than a real moral choice. Another possibility, yet quite outlandish
is that we, after all, will meet extraterrestrial intelligent life. But what if, instead of an invasion or the
start of some meaningful communication, we end up with space refugees? Imagine an alien space ship coming to us in
search of shelter and fuel. In this case, humanity would need to be extremely
patient and tolerant. Not only because it’s the most human thing
to do, but also because the reward for it could be absolutely game-changing. Imagine how much they could tell and teach
us. Interstellar travel is, in itself, something
we have only a vague idea about. But it could bring us so much more: Sources
of energy, recycling, or even communication. After all, these aliens will probably be unfathomably
different from us, but they’ll certainly be social enough to show us more advanced
science and engineering than ours. This means that we’ll have a chance to establish
some kind of relationship. They’ll probably be different in a physiological
way too, and that means they might be better off finding their shelter underwater, in deserts,
on ice, or on the highest peaks of Earth’s mountains. Their science might allow them to use something
we have in abundance as a source of energy or food. So, sharing a planet with another civilization
wouldn’t be a disaster if we don’t prejudge, and simply take our time to understand them. Hmm, based on world history, good luck with
that. And finally, here comes a little plot twist. We’re already becoming an excellent training
ground for developing stable relationships with a vastly different kind of intelligence. And we’re the ones who are creating it. I’m talking about Artificial Intelligence,
of course. In its basic form, we have a clear understanding
of how AI works. But here’s the reason about half of the
scientific community is openly arguing against any further development of this technology:
Today we have complete control over its simple forms, but that’s only until it obtains
the ability to learn and develop itself. The challenge with AI is that it has no bodily
limits. It doesn’t need us as much as we would probably
need it. It’s a tough thing to have an equal and
fair relationship with something like that. Yet, the AI that we have now is a good way
to prepare ourselves and make the best of it in every possible way. Hey, if you learned something new today, then
give the video a like and share it with a friend! And here are some other cool videos I think
you’ll enjoy. Just click to the left or right, and stay
on the Bright Side of life!


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