Sightings of hovering UFOs were at an all-time high in 2020, but we have yet to snap up an image of the extraterrestrials, or aliens, aboard their floating ships. Astronomers and scientists have no doubt that extraterrestrial life exists, including intelligent beings, but exactly how these beings will take shape is what alludes to us.
There has certainly been a fair share of attempts to portray aliens, from E.T. trying to phone home back in the early 1980s to the Alien franchise spanning five decades, these sci-fi extraterrestrials have all had a similar organic look. Think green sinewy arms, oversized eyes, slime oozing over their upright bodies, and sharp teeth.
Aliens are likely not what we expect
However, Seth Shostak, an astronomer at the Seti Insititute, an organization that has been searching for extraterrestrial life for over 50 years, strongly believes those iconic E.T. portrayals have nothing to do with the real deal. Instead, life forms from other planets or universes won't be life forms, they'll be AI or synthetic intelligence.
The most compelling reason Shostak believes extraterrestrials won't be organic life forms like us is that if they ever pay us a visit on Earth — something this physics isn't too keen on — they'll have had to travel over staggering distances to the stars.
For instance, the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, sits 75 trillion miles from us, which would currently take our rockets 75,000 years to reach, per Shostak. No human form of life can endure that trip, so Shostak posits that any being that can do so will have to be a machine.
Granted, Shostak also makes the argument that beings living out there could have faster spacecraft, and would likely be much more advanced than us — but that only adds to his belief that those beings would, in fact, be AI.
So, gather your binoculars and be prepared to see... a machine.