Centrum Leo Apostel (CLEA)
Evolution, Complexity and Cognition (ECCO)
Presented in the Embryo Physics Course, March 13, 2013
This talk proposes a new concrete hypothesis to assess the existence of advanced extraterrestrial life. I first point out two methodological fallacies, *naturality-of-the-gaps* and * artificiality-of-the-gaps* and propose a more balanced *astrobiological stance*, which does not prejudices the naturality or artificiality of suspicious phenomena we observe. I point out many limiting and implicit assumptions in SETI, in order to propose a “Zen SETI”, thus opening the search space. In particular, I outline the case for postbiological evolution, or the probable transition of life to another organizational paradigm than biochemistry. I then discuss criteria to distinguish natural from artificial phenomena, starting with global criteria (*strangeness heuristic* and *inverse distance-development principle*); then thermodynamical criteria (*thermodynamic disequilibrium* and *energy flow control*); and finally present living systems criteria (Miller’s nineteen critical functional subsystems). Then I introduce a two-dimensional metric for civilizational development, using the Kardashev scale of energy consumption increase and the Barrow scale of inward manipulation. Taken together, these two civilizational development trends lead to an argument that some existing binary stars may actually be advanced extraterrestrials. Since those putative beings actively feed on stars, I call them *starivores*. I elaborate another independent thermodynamical argument for their existence, with a metabolic interpretation of some binary stars in accretion. I further substantiate the hypothesis with a tentative living systems interpretation. Ten critical living subsystems are suggested to apply to interacting binaries composed of a primary white dwarf, neutron star or black hole. I critically discuss the hypothesis by formulating and replying objections. The question of artificiality remains open, but I propose four concrete research proposals and a prize to further continue and motivate the scientific assessment of this hypothesis.
The detailed version of the hypothesis is in Chapter 9 of:
Vidal, C. 2013 – *The Beginning and the End: the Meaning of Life in a
Cosmological Perspective http://scan.me/54qlz1*, PhD Thesis, 360 pages,
to be defended at the Free University Brussels (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
A recent short paper summarizes the core arguments:
Vidal, C. 2013. “Starivore Extraterrestrials? A Metabolic Account of
Interacting Binary Stars http://student.vub.ac.be/~clvidal/writings/Vidal-Starivore-Binary.pdf.”
Clément Vidal is a researcher at the Free University of Brussels (Vrije Universiteit Brussel). He has a background in Philosophy, Mathematical Logic (master’s degrees at the University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, France) and Cognitive Sciences (MSc, EHESS/ENS/Paris 5/Paris 6, France). He has broad interdisciplinary interests in astrobiology, complexity sciences, evolutionary theory, philosophy of science, cognitive sciences and praxeology. He recently finished to write his PhD on the origin of the universe and the far-future of intelligent life.