Alexander Berezin, a renowned scientist from Russia’s National University of Electronic Technology Research, warned humans would be both the first to enter and last to leave the universe as mankind would unwittingly obliterate all other forms of life.
Writing in an article entitled First to enter, last to leave: A solution to Fermi’s paradox, Mr Berezin expands upon the controversial Fermi’s paradox theory which states the universe is so large extraterrestrial life forms are almost undeniably present.
Yet responding to critics who have argued humans have never made contact with extra-terrestrial beings, Mr Berezin said: “The specific nature of civilisations arising to interstellar level should not matter.
“They might be biological organisms like ourselves, rogue AIs that rebelled against their creators, or distributed planet-scale minds like those described by Stanislaw Lem in Solaris.”
The scientist suggests other life forms may not have reached the level of development required for interstellar communication, space travel, or simply to be detected by scientists.
In his “first in, last out” solution to the paradox, Mr Berezin predicts a grim future for the universe when interstellar travel does become a reality.
He said: “What if the first life that reaches interstellar travel capability necessarily eradicates all competition to fuel its own expansion?”
The scientist noted the future potential destruction of life forms would not necessarily be consciously designed.
He said: “They simply will not realise, in the same way that a construction team demolishes an anthill to build a property because it has no incentives to protect it.”
Mr Berezin cites free market capitalism or the threat of artificial intelligence as potential unrestricted systems where the unfettered accrual of power could occur.
He added: “One rogue AI can potentially populate the entire supercluster with copies of itself, turning every solar system into a supercomputer, and there is no use asking why it would do that.
“All that matters is that it can.”
The scientist acknowledged that he “hopes to be wrong”, but offered reassurance that humans would likely be the first to reach the interstellar stage.
He said: “We are here, our planet and our star are relatively intact, and we are already contemplating the first interstellar probes.”
In conclusion, he added: “The only explanation is the invocation of the anthropic principle, we are the first to reach the interstellar stage and, most likely, we will be the last to leave.”