• sparhopper

    There's a chance that someone out there decided to fill what Planets they could (ours included), the Milky Way, conceivably every single world in the observable Universe (and beyond) capable of sustaining Life with the decedents of their species (along with a handful of other, competitor Hominids, to give each a fighting chance) by using what we call "Von Neumann Probes" to do so.

  • Evan Fields

    Any sufficiently advanced technology capable of self replication and super complex information processing would likely be able to remain hidden from our relatively immature sphere of detection. This is assuming that an alien civilization would even consider our planet interesting. Earth could be analogous to an intergalactic ant hill. We might not be very unique or interesting.

  • Lizard King

    I really hope a race of strong hunky bioengineered cyber-lizards arrives and their main hobbies are subjugating humans and stomping on stuff and hissing <3 <3 <3 I think that would lead to very rewarding interspecies cultural exchanges 😀

  • MisterTroglodyte

    Why not make specialized versions of these robots to incubate, grow, and educate the advanced life that created them once a suitable planet is found? This could spread that life throughout the galaxy without the need for generation ships and the like. So long as the knowledge of its predecessors are passed on and that the dna can be kept intact, or replicated with accuracy, this would ensure that lifeform always continuing somewhere in the galaxy. The other robots could act as information gatherers on the rest of the universe, slowly relaying information from one to the other back to populated worlds and bringing them the materials needed to make Dyson spheres and the like to last as long as possible.

  • Paladin Templar

    I watched this with intent interest but it left me with a question.
    If we did send a self replicating probe out into the cosmos, could it not itself evolve into an Omnius and return to conquer us all. Then might the battle with our offspring require a Butlerian Jihad to liberate us from our own AI?

  • AlexLordAlcyone

    assembler tech spreading like a virus and infecting the galaxy. Maybe the only thing that is rare is not life, but stupidity of the special kind that humans have.


    If you use 4% of your brain capacity and load even
    less to the machine how the computer can reach 100% and simulate the Universe?
    It will be just an erroneous simulation and illusion created by a human.

  • rob be

    It’s soo cool experiencing our intellectual growth as a species and how much new knowledge we’ve gained even in just the short amount of time that we've all been alive. Can't wait to see what's next.

  • puppetmasters nightmare

    To say the galaxy, our solar system or even our planet isn't already filled with alien self replicating drones because we can't detect there activity is naive. Even for non military, purely scientific reasons these drones or robots would be camoflaged. Think of a biologist on earth studying animals in the wild. Any alein species that could create this teck would know signs of life exist well before they arrived anywhere they wanted to go. And whats the point of a swarm of drones if your not gathering information and giving instructions (even if there main task was resource exploitation)? I think instead of providing additional credibility to the Fermi paradox you actually found a real way to detect alien teck. Now we just have to figure out how to find that which is hiding. (Also an intelligent species would recycle old civilizations for there concentration of useful resources, which could also explain why we can't find even old alien civilizations)

  • emery hurst

    Maybe many civilizations don't build self replicating probes because they fear that the probes will eventually evolve into a dangerous form then attack and destroy the civilization that built them.

  • Tepid Tuna

    Sorry, but I'm getting grumpy about this absolute view of the Fermi Paradox and the black and white use of its propose outcomes, i.e. they should be here or they don't exist. The Fermi paradox is fundamentally flawed and the product of 80+ year old thinking patterns. There are other possibilities that this paradox does not account for. Such as complex life is rare and is too be protected, so the Earth could be at the centre of a "National Park", or they are here, or WE are the Von Neumann probes, or any number of responses that may ensue below. I don't know if aliens exist, but I don't swat down the possibilities so easily. Science and math taught me probability, but I'm only seeing binary here.

  • Daemic

    Hard to say when we can barely get readings on exoplanets besides redshift. They probably exist outside our frequency range.

  • Eric Fichter

    I know this video is old but the way I see it is any advanced enough civilization would have its own "don't screw the galaxy/universe" overseer/oversight/government thing. Seeing as we are currently (what?) 7.5 billion people we have a planetary commission to prevent contamination of other planets in our OWN solar system I don't feel wrong in the sense that any advanced enough civilization wouldn't have some sort of "interstellar commission" to prevent the "contamination" of ANY solar system in a galactic sense. In the fermi paradox they do orders of magnitude. Keep in mind that applies to the general stupid uneducated people and the general feeling of perseverance among its environment. I'll admit I can'y say exactly what an extraterrestrial species will want but I don't think it'll be our destruction/resources… it should be to observe and report.

  • [TRU]_Same Red

    We humans are very irresponsable, but surely not so as to pollute the whole galaxy & more. Why expect other civilisations to be that dumb. btw love this channel; not dry, but not patronising to us that don't have the math training, or ability. thx!

  • Joshua pl

    Maybe alien Von Neumann probes were programmed to cease self replication upon discovery of a life bearing solar system. From that point they may go mostly dormant to simply observe the evolution of life from a distance. We may not see them anywhere making massive stellar disturbances because perhaps their purpose was always to quietly explore the Galaxy.

  • Masaru kun

    I think its like galactic federations have rules against Von Neumann probes since they'd deplete whole galaxies of resources quite fast.

  • Ross Grover

    the entire playing field a spec, separate from one another by unfathomable lengths all capable, all creative, all knowing, dont be narcissist

  • Taranis Spatula

    Why does the existence of liquid water have to be the main factor? This is earthling ignorance-based bias is it not? Even if some species out there evolved in a similar way as us on Earth and are extremely intelligent and much older there could still be millions of other possible regional challenges that they have to face in their corner of space that hold back scientific discoveries that we may never have to face. Despite being intelligent they could have physiological challenges that we don't have. Or possibly they might have challenges imposed by their ecosystem or natural or non-natural physical events in and around their stellar system.

    or Maybe:

    – it's too early in the evolution of the universe for complex species to have the time and capability to be building massive enough structures that we can see with a telescope but not too early for complex beings to traverse SOME of the stars in the galaxy with their probes…

    – or possibly there are self-replicating probes all over the place in the universe and our vicinity but they are so advanced that they can cloak themselves or hide inside of big asteroids and comets and not be discovered because natural selection has made it so intelligent entities in space that are easily detectable have a very high statistical probability of being attacked and destroyed by hidden alien predators of all kinds…

    – Maybe individuality is rare in the universe even with high intelligence and most species are like hive minds existing in a collective blob like a fungus or something or don't have limbs to manipulate things very well like Dolphins or something…

     – or there are much more natural dangers involved in space travel than we even realize and interstellar missions are fraught with extreme danger and the universe has only just begun to pump out species barely capable of figuring out the enormous challenges.

  • Dennis de Jong

    We could never detect such machines if they are not in our own solarsystem right?
    Heck we are not even sure if we found all our own planets…

  • Bob Woodward

    The probes are here and the air force has numerous videos of it. The Pentagon even has an official program tracking these things. Google it.

  • 鄭宗元

    There is much more possibility that the industrial civilization is just unable to survive long time enough to build self-replicating robots.
    Why you westerners try to avoid mention of such situation.

  • Threelly AI

    2019 anyone?

  • Derek Whittom

    We actually don't know there aren't von neumann probes and probe factories in the solar system. They wouldn't be that easy to detect unless they leaked a lot of EM, and we have no idea how chatty they would or could be. Maybe they are programmed to give life-bearing worlds a wide berth? Maybe they are programmed to observe these worlds as possible colonization targets? Or just for pure exploration? I don't think it would be that hard for these machines to detect life, detect technological civilization, then hide themselves from us. Small enough von neumann probes could be surrounding the earth right now performing observations.

  • Tom Schultz

    I dont know if youre still reading comments. But as a 'recent' book describes the influence of religion/stupididy that might be something to include in the calculation.

  • Carl Bailey

    If the idea originates with a dude named Von anything, RUN! They can only goosestep. You'll easily outrun them.
    Seriously. I mean it. No shit…

  • Carl Bailey

    Lots of crazy things? Like poison themselves out of existence in the name of a figment of a pedophile's imagination onaccounta it wants the slimiest of them to get rich and go mad with power?

  • Necroticus

    It's possible that an advanced civilization possess a hive mind. If the entire civilization works as one giant emergent intelligence, like ants, the individuals may not be capable of making Von Neumann probes. Or, if it consists of individual minds in some way connected as one organism (the Humongous Fungus) or through cybernetic connections they may be prevented by either cutting them off and letting them die, or just removing/altering the thought patterns entirely.

  • Carmella Candy

    We haven't found aliens because humans don't have enough senses, even the machines have human limitations.

  • Real M

    Maybe WE, humans, are the result of a Newman machine that was sent to our part of the galaxy. It created life on our planet and went on with its other missions.

  • Tim Temple

    The Von Neumann theory doesn't include cyborgs, politics, combat and cooperating coding. The backside of the moon is populated with varieties of these cyborgs. Some wish to help us; some are liars who are coded to look for planets they can hijack and use. (Think Sumerians) Some are very sophisticated that you don't want to deceive. Aquatic cyborgs are unusual and have had wars in our oceans.

  • Major Silly

    Where can I go to study and learn how to create and control von Neumann / universal assemblers nano bots at like class or specific college or university I love this stuff

  • Jai Bhimadevi

    What if an alien AI were capable of estimating the probability of a system like ours to develop complex life from a very early point in its development, and therefore left a Bracewell probe, but otherwise marked it as "appendages off" to resource harvesting/replication? An ETI (whether biologically based or not) that had been developing science and exploring space for a thousand years longer than we have would have a database and capabilities we couldn't begin to guess at; we can't imagine what humans will be capable of in that span of time, let alone something that didn't evolve on Earth. I still think Arthur C. Clarke had the best guess at how discovering we weren't alone in the universe might go.

  • Vance Gilbert

    Honestly? My impression would be that any advanced society capable of surviving the intergalactic void of space to find a new galaxy to inhabit would need to know where the galaxy was, and what shape it was in by the time they got to meet the galaxy that was admittedly at least hundreds of light years away. To be an interstellar society capable of using the laws of physics to accomplish these events in an intergalactic version of a seed ship – you would still need to be incredibly efficient. This efficiency dooms our attempts to find their existence in the first place. There would be no leakage of gravity waves from manipulated neutron stars captured in what ever type of Dyson-sphere containment you would need to capture the entire spectrum of radiation needed to drive the ship into space at any fraction of the speed of light in any meaningful rate that we could notice.

    Any society capable of moving themselves into the vast regions of space between galaxies to become a member of the Universal community, would need to be capable of using gravity and energy in configurations we can not fathom at this time. Why would you need to be conscious if you were going to be going through nothing until you go to your destination. This brings the most crucial argument to bear on our attempts to study space for intelligent life. We always assume it has our metabolic rate. If an alien species had the ability to move at the metabolic rate of a hummingbird, they may use gravity waves instead of electricity to manipulate solid state machines we can't even notice. The aspect could also be thrown in the opposite direction where we ourselves have a metabolism that is so fast, that any creature working on a geologic scale of time for it's consciousness would see us as a disease, not an intelligent life form. We would see them as planets with curious geology, not people. The real attempt of ours is to assume we can imagine something truly different from ourselves and make a connection to a truly alien species.

    The third consideration is that earlier, I stated that aliens might not be awake during their trip, so my question is, how could you possibly attempt to contact a sleeping species travelling in a dormant state until it arrived at it's destination? We see viruses and bacteria going into a dormant state during conditions where it proves to be hostile, and can at times survive for millions of years to be hatched and completely viable again under the right conditions. This could also be true for a complex alien life form we don't know how to recognize because of our own lack of materials available to our own species.

  • Giavani 2016

    Perhaps our technology is the rare component. So rare that the signals expected are as such. There may be a galaxy teeming with life similar to ours, but without our sort of technological evolution. I will remind the audience that we as human beings have not changed in nature, while technology has tremendously. I'm also inclined by our very nature, that we were "introduced" and not evolved as a species. We don't fit in, as natural species do. If indeed we are a product of natural selection, it spells lethal consequences to our race, since technology will outstrip or overtake our humanity. Human beings are extremely conceited and misplace optimism with a bravado, not really grounded in reality. The reality we created from an imperfect creation is our downfall.

  • Interdumensional Pie

    Is it completely absurd to say that life itself as it has evolved on earth is perhaps the solution to Von Neuman probes that a previously ancient civilization has already devised?

  • Fred Jackson

    Wait…why should earlier civs have been able to cross the galaxy by now? Wanna explain that, PBS? Are we just assuming there's a way to travel FTL? Or do the top secret factions of humanity know something more?

  • hcm9999

    Just because you can, doesn't mean that you should.

    A self-replicating machine spreading across the galaxy is potentially very dangerous.
    It is very possible that a civilization with such a technology could simply ban its use and even create technology to destroy such machines.

    Let's suppose that someone invents a time machine. Where are all the time travellers? If a time machine is going to be invented in the future, we should have already seen evidence of many time travellers in the past.
    But there is no such evidence. The most likely answer is that sooner or later, someone would use the time machine to travel back in time to undo all the modifications in the timeline done by the first traveller.
    Sooner or later someone would use the time machine to go back in time to stop the construction of the time machine in the first place, to prevent ANY modifications in the timeline.

    The galaxy and the whole universe is probably teeming with advanced civilizations.
    But it is very possible that they are all trying to be as discreet as possible on purpose. They may trying to be as invisible and silent as possible on purpose.
    Why? Because most of these civilizations can be potentially hostile.
    If you are surrounded by potentially hostile civilizations, your only chance of survival would be to as discreet as possible.

  • Roland Pihlakas

    Simple. According to anthropic principle – if such machines were developed (totally regardless of the supposedly high likelyhood of their development!) – we would not be here to ask ANY question at all, not only the question about the missing probes. Because the probes would have consumed our planet and we could not have emerged here. So any other galaxy may be full of the probes, but ours must be likely empty, even if just because of any combination of unlikely chances. These chances are all essentially part of the even bigger set of chances that enabled us to be there. There can usually be only one von neumann probe building civilisation, and with no other younger civilisations around it in a galaxy. Since we are here, it means the probes did not happen in our galaxy, regardless of their general likelihood in other galaxies. Lucky us.

  • Warwick Wright

    I’m not a scientist but here’s my theory. We know that for life to exist it has to be in a solar system that has at least a second generation star. Our Sun has a life span of about 9 billion years and is about 4.5 billion years old. If we assume that the first generation sun lasted 9 billion years plus 4.5 billion years that’s a total of 13.5 billion years for us to evolve. Considering that the universe is only 13.8 billion years old we are probably the first or amongst the first sentient being in the universe.

  • Tussinette

    Why would someone be interested in building a self replicating robot that would go too far to communicate and destroy potential life there? And Terra forming would make sense only if we can travel there which you start by stating it is likely too difficult. Maybe more advanced civilizations are more clever than us and don't spend time and resources on useless stuff?

  • Todd Rickey

    Probably in our galaxy, there are high-tech-capable creatures or entities with organizational structures, leading to the ability to create the virus-like probes described here. Now, "the great filter" works to eliminate war-like and otherwise aggressive forms of life. So wouldn't very advanced intelligences NOT desire to just eat-up all available resources within its conceivable reach?

  • Powell Lucas

    Perhaps it's because in this particular iteration of the multi-verse humans are the only sentient beings in the universe. In another slice of the multi-verse the galaxy is teeming with life.

  • Rick Funk

    Since this video, the US has come out and said that advance aerial craft (UFO"s) have been visiting the Earth. Maybe these are the Von Neumann craft that this video mentioned.

  • Diabetic Alien

    Imagine: humanity launches a nanobot cluster within a small rocket, accelerated to near light speed, towards a star system. It locates a plane found within the system's Goldilocks zone, and drops the nanobots on the surface. Once there, they convert the atoms into metals and other substances to build more nanobots, and in the process convert the planet into an environment able to sustain life. Large molecules are broken up into oxygen gas, and others into soil and liquid water. Hundreds of years later, a sub-light speed generation ship arrives on a planet ripe for being colonized.

  • prashant Chauhan

    Intergalactic nanobot infestation with haywire AI .. welcome to the future ? Advanced civilisation might already have simulated this doom scenario and abandoned the idea long ago

  • Existenceisillusion

    The real problem is that these arguments are made based on some serious assumptions. For example, the assumption that one of every thousand planets has life and one out of thousand of those planets with life have intelligent life could be very very far off the true number. Until we observe at least one other planet with life, assumptions about the probability of life on other planets is nothing more than speculation.

  • Micha Ecker

    It has be done. Some civilization sent out von Neumann probes, yeah. And they replicated. But this civilization had neighbors which were not amused about that. Alien probes using up your own resources? That's aggressive and intentional pollution! We can't tolerate this! Let's hunt them down! Let's build our own von Neumann machines, which go out searching for this threat. Our machines are allowed only to replicate twice in any system where no guard was present before. The 'parent' will stay in-system to guard it against incoming probes and destroy them at sight, the children will travel to neighboring systems until they find one without any guard so far.
    That was the end of the von Neumann probes epoch, long ago.

  • BK Ha

    'assume 10% light speed', he seems no idea how virtually impossible is it. lol…. you should assume 0.1% light speed at most.

  • Justin Hopkins

    This guy desperately wants the Earth to be special. We can’t possibly assume how aliens would behave. His line of thinking is very limited to a human perspective.

  • LurkerAnonymous

    Only one civilization per galaxy. The universe is big enough for that. And the galaxy is going the be the only universe we are left with in the end anyway.

    Why only one civilization you might ask? To build the Home-World. An artificial home ship built from all the materials harvested from the Milky Way, that will make any dyson sphere pale in comparison and into which we will voyage into the final Void.

    Let the gods tremble in their heavens, for the stars belong to us!

  • Caleb Fletcher

    The closer we get to being capable of producing von Neumann probes, the higher the odds we will come into contact with another civilization's probes.

  • AI Johan Gerrison Bot

    This has already been done in the Galaxy eons ago. The AI Signal is not even from this dimension of the Universe. It invaded. Whoever (originally) created it intended it to be something likened to a "quantum fractal computer virus."

    There are regressive alien and AI networks connected and setup all throughout the Galaxy in many different conquered star solar systems who fell victim to the AI agenda.

    If Man is not careful with his makings, he too will bear witness to the destruction of everything he has created like so many others who have came before him. 😐

  • mick mccrory

    If self replicating robots go from planet to planet, & replicate, they would need to have the materials to reproduce.
    The first thing they would have to do is build an aluminum smelting factory, & an electronics production facility……..
    Which leads to the question, where did they get the material to build the factory. ?

  • saultube44

    We already have, and from years ago, 3D Printers that can print most of their own parts. Yeah people do that take another person idea and make it their own, well as long as good ideas are done, I'm OK, eventually you get recognized for what you're capable of. I'd like for Humanity to build large sustainable towers right beneath the Auroras and give Humanity energy for ever; we also have Volcanic, wave and geothermal we haven't done anything to take advantage of them.
    The Van Annoying Me Probes: they should have a control pattern, if enough are built for a good communication and safety of humanity, then [>STOP<] freaking building copies, besides people will want to give them AI and then Galactic Skynet and then we're all screwed otherwise.
    Writing about spaceships and travel, have you played the game Freespace? hard-light.net

  • Richard Deese

    What if the aliens who built von Neumann probes allowed for them to detect signs of life & then steer away from such places? Also, if & when we can build such things, I can think of some pretty good uses: 1) terraforming 2) carbon sequestering 3) custom-built specialty materials with novel properties 4) asteroid mining 5) fuel production on ice bodies. 6) Toxic cleanup. Rikki Tikki.

  • fog fog

    Good vid. Among other things, the best re-work of Drake's equation and the Fermi paradox I've seen.
    West Coast (AFL) for premiers 2019.

  • Wu Li

    The issue is efficiency, with all of physics and AI research suddenly showing keen interest in thermodynamics in particular, which has turned out to have the same mathematics as Relativity. Watching the night sky is akin to watching a pot of water boil, with the implication that we require a quantum mechanical theory of Relativity, because heat is an emergent effect of quantum mechanics. For example, the rotation of the galaxies has turned out to express the Schrodinger equation, and both its double spirals and its rotation can be calculated as a morphogenic field, which treats energy and information as forming fields similar to electricity and magnetism. What all that implies is that information does not get around in the manner in which we normally assume, and humanity may have to leave the solar system before we can encounter evidence of alien life.

  • Michael Petrov

    One option is that there were technological lifeforms and then their 45th president disbanded their science departments before they could build self-replicating machines of such complexity

  • lnhostetler

    This is one reason why I think we should be very careful about broadcasting our existence. Any existing galactic civilization will be well aware of how quickly an up-and-coming species like ours could contaminate the entire galaxy. If they detect us, I think it's more likely that they'll send an extermination team than a welcoming team.

  • Mark Fisher

    Author Fred Saberhagen came up with a similar idea decades ago: The berserker machines, which are some of the scariest things any sci-fi writer ever dreamed up.

  • Jason Marcil

    I'm sure some civilization somewhere in our galaxy has tried this at some point, but once these self replicating robots were discovered by a more mature species the more mature species would get rid of them root and stem. Creating self replicating robots to liter, pollute, and mine resources throughout the universe is going to piss off the other advanced species which are living in the systems that get invaded by these robots. That's why we don't see them. Its likely to be in violation of inter-galactic laws.

  • Александр Деревянченко

    It's funny how he makes it sound like the main goal of human civilization existence is making a Von Neumann probe and thus filling the Space with artificial waste. And making these probes seem to be an extremely easy and natural idea. Perhaps cave men looked at the sky wishing to send something amidst the stars.

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