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According to the British physicist Stephen Wolfram, intelligent life is inevitable. But there is a hitch. Although intelligent life is inevitable, we will never find it -at least not by looking out in the Milky Way. As evidence Wolfram points out In order to compress more and more information into our communication signals - be they mobile phone conversations or computer- we remove all redundancy or pattern. If anything in a signal repeats, then clearly it can be excised. But this process of removing any pattern from a signal make it look more and more random - in fact, pretty much like the random radio "noise" that rains down on Earth coming from stars and interstellar gas clouds. According to Wolfram, if someone beamed our own 21st-century communication signals at us from space we would be hard pressed determining whether they were artificial or natural. So what chance do we have of distinguishing an ET communication from the general background radio static of the cosmos?

ET artifacts coordinated by computers would look far more like a natural artifact. It is easy to distinguish a technological artifact such as a car from a natural object such as a tree. The tree is far more complicated. But, says Wolfram,"this is simply because our technological artifacts are primitive. As they become more complex - with computer processors enabling them to make a moment-by-moment decisions - they will begin to look just as complex as trees and people and stars." We have slim chance, he suggests, of distinguishing an ET artifact from a natural celestial object.

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Category: Science