The Possibility of Alien Life

Though we have found no definitive signs of alien life, the vastness of the universe makes it seem likely that advanced civilizations exist somewhere. But if they do, why have we not heard from them?

Key Facts & Points

  • Given the size and age of the universe, the possibility of advanced alien civilizations seems high mathematically.
  • Our own civilization's radio and TV signals have been broadcasting into space for decades but fade quickly over interstellar distances.
  • Alien civilizations might try to optically image large artificial structures on Earth like the Pyramids. But this would only be possible from within a few thousand light years.
  • To see structures the size of the Pyramids from 3000 light years away would require a telescope array the size of Saturn's orbit, implying an extremely advanced Type II civilization on the Kardashev scale.
  • So a very advanced civilization could potentially know of our existence, but we lack the technology to detect them in return currently.

Staying Connected in the Digital Age

A new iOS app called Moments helps users maintain personal and professional relationships by providing reminders to reach out, AI-generated messages, and relationship management tools.

Key Facts & Points

  • Moments aims to help people stay connected with their most important contacts by providing reminders and prompts to reach out.
  • The app allows users to organize contacts, set reminders for outreach, and draft messages or emails using an AI writing assistant.
  • Moments provides relationship management tools like contact notes, event tracking, and can sync with CRM platforms.
  • The app has social skill "Learn To-Dos" to improve networking abilities through tips and courses.
  • Moments has a freemium model with 20 free contacts and then a paid subscription model.
  • The app was built by an all-woman developer team and is currently iOS only with Android planned for 2023.

Simplifying Travel Planning with AI

A startup called Mindtrip has raised $7 million to develop an AI travel agent that can help plan and book customized trips through natural conversation.

Key Facts & Points

  • Mindtrip was founded by experienced entrepreneurs who saw a gap in the market for an AI to replace human travel agents.
  • The AI uses natural language processing to have conversations about desired trips and provide suggestions, availability, maps, etc. to build a full itinerary.
  • It can then directly book flights, hotels, restaurants, and activities through integration with providers.
  • Mindtrip will launch in public beta later this year after successful MVP demos of the conversational interface.
  • The goal is to simplify trip planning for today's traveler who is inspired by social media but wants help with logistics.

Humanity's Growing Technosphere Could Dominate Earth's Biosphere Within 90 Years

Researchers estimate humanity's digital communications may surpass the biological communications of all life on Earth within 90 years, altering the planet's energy usage and potentially impacting the search for alien civilizations.

Key Facts & Points

  • Currently, Earth's biosphere exchanges ~1024 bits of data per second through chemical/biological interactions.
  • Humanity's technosphere exchanges ~1015 bits/second through digital communications, which is growing exponentially.
  • At current exponential growth rates, humanity's technosphere could surpass the biosphere in under 90 years.
  • This growing technosphere would dominate the planet's energy usage, shifting it from biological to technological.
  • Advanced alien civilizations may similarly have energy dominated by technology, distinguishable by its distinct thermal signature.

Controversy Flares Over Whether Viking Landers Killed Martian Life in 1976

In 1976, NASA's Viking landers may have sampled microbes hiding in Martian rocks. Adding water to test for life likely killed them. This would explain the landers' confusing results, per one scientist's new hypothesis.

Key Facts & Points

  • Viking landers carried out 4 experiments in 1976 to look for life on Mars. Results were contradictory.
  • New theory: Landers may have found dry-resistant microbes in rocks. Adding water to test for life killed them.
  • Similar microbes exist in Atacama Desert. Too much water can kill them.
  • Other scientists skeptical: Perchlorates in soil likely explain Viking results, not new life forms.
  • Debate continues over best interpretation of decades-old Viking data.