Feb 12, 2023

Berserker hypothesis

Posted by in categories: alien life, existential risks

A more frightening implication of the fermi paradox.

The berserker hypothesis, also known as the deadly probes scenario, is the idea that humans have not yet detected intelligent alien life in the universe because it has been systematically destroyed by a series of lethal Von Neumann probes.[1][2] The hypothesis is named after the Berserker series of novels (1963−2005) written by Fred Saberhagen.[1]

The hypothesis has no single known proposer, and instead is thought to have emerged over time in response to the Hart–Tipler conjecture,[3] or the idea that an absence of detectable Von Neumann probes is contrapositive evidence that no intelligent life exists outside of the Sun’s Solar System. According to the berserker hypothesis, an absence of such probes is not evidence of life’s absence, since interstellar probes could “go berserk” and destroy other civilizations, before self-destructing.

In his 1983 paper “The Great Silence”, astronomer David Brin summarized the frightening implications of the berserker hypothesis: it is entirely compatible with all the facts and logic of the Fermi paradox, but would mean that there exists no intelligent life left to be discovered. In the worst-case scenario, humanity has already alerted others to its existence, and is next in line to be destroyed.[4].

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