Wednesday, 20 May 2020

What do intelligent aliens look like?

Extraterrestrials, Aliens, life from other worlds. Creatures that have evolved or been engineered on planets with completely different atmospheres and dare I say ecosystems to those found here on earth.
Many have speculated as to what unusual forms these planets could produce. I want to limit this idea to the highest evolved intelligence that could have originated from different planets to detail a complete ecosystem of an alien world would take way too long, this then
Leaving us with the question   
What do super-intelligent aliens look like?
Extraterrestrials have been depicted across cultures and countries for thousands of years, appearing in different shapes and sizes as people understanding and beliefs change. From the little green men of the fifties to today's Greys and the idea that the gods of old were from another world.
In ancient times these ETs were often shown to be human-like in their appearance but said to possess incredible powers.
The gods of ancient Greece and Egypt being a perfect example of this belief and something I have looked at before.
These gods displayed abilities that were far beyond humans and could point to the use of advanced technology or biological abilities that could have come to be from them originating in another part of the universe. The immense strength and invulnerability which the Gods displayed may have come from an advanced, possible engineered immune system and cells.
This would allow them to heal rapidly, as well as defend against harmful things such as radiation and gravity, problems faced when a biological being travels to space.
This need to survive the perils of deep space travel would call for some bodily modification even the use of artificial bodies and the possible transmission of a Consciousness into artificial bodies.
The possibilities of creating an artificial or biological body for space travel means that there could be an endless number of shapes and forms utilized by being from other worlds.
We have been somewhat programmed by Movies and television to think that aliens would look somewhat like us. The differences being a large head, green skin, and giant almond eyes.
 For the moment at least, the only planet we can look to for answers is our own. The earth offers a huge range of biodiversity from single-celled organisms to the blue whale, life comes in an almost immeasurable range of shapes and sizes and displays such a wide range of abilities that if we were on the outside looking in, we may say the life on this planet sounded like the work of a science fiction writer.
Again we have to focus on intelligence as a measure, one thing that seems to be true so far is that brain size dictates intelligence. Remember that intelligence can be measured in several different ways, it does not necessarily mean beings which create technology some may say that shows a level of unintelligence, as it often harms the environment but that for another time. 
To evolve a level of advanced brain function some other adaptions are thought to be needed.
Firstly some kind of appendage that can manipulate the environment around the alien species. It doesn't have to be a hand and fingers tentacles could easily fit the bill or even a body that could morph into the shapes needed by the creature to accomplish its goal thought up by the prerequisite large brain.
They would most likely need some kind of visual organ or organs again taking into mind that we only see in a narrow part of the light spectrum they could see in another or many others. The same would be likely for the senses of smell hearing and taste.
All of these senses would be developed or engineered to reflect the environment in which these aliens were from, and possibly modified for the space travel which would bring them to our world.
To helps us narrow down the body forms
Let's stick with some of the principles that the majority of life on this planet follows and apply them to these extraterrestrials. The first is that the body pattern will more than likely be symmetrical.
Everything we know of that grows follows a symmetrical pattern. Cut a tree in half lengthwise, the branches and roots on one side would be fairly similar to the other. The same applies to humans and all living growth, even inorganic growth such as crystals and galaxies.
Next up is when things begin to vary depending on factors such as gravity the density of matter and the availability of energy.
The size of an alien would be dictated by these outside factors, here on earth we see how the shapes and sizes of lifeforms change. Deep-sea creatures being very different from their surface-dwelling cousins. Aliens from worlds with higher gravity being shorter and stouter with high bone density to resist the gravitational forces. The opposite applies to life on planets with less gravity they would be tall and of a lighter build.
This is where those that believe in convergent evolution say ultimately the alien body form would evolve into a pattern similar to our own, bipedal with two arms and two legs being the most biological efficient design.
But as we know here on Earth many lifeforms do not follow this pattern, if an organism like them continued to evolve and become intelligence why would they need to morph so greatly from a body type which leads them to be successful in their environment.
Bilateral symmetry is not the ultimate design for a body.
Having two sides the same does provide a level of redundancy but wouldn't several different types of body parts also be of an advantage?
Multiple eyes that surround ahead, maybe more than one head, why have only arms and hands when you could have arms hands tentacles or some other type of limb for manipulating the world around you.
After all the old saying is "many hands make light work"
Of course the more body parts there are to control the bigger the brain and sense needed to control them are, so we can also see the effects of energy here.
If there is easy access to energy to support a more complex body type there is no reason for it not to exist after all it would seem that natural law favours efficient body design.
All life on Earth is carbon-based, but that wouldn't be the case elsewhere. Life forms could be silicon-based or iron-based or anything else at all. This would mean how energy is obtained could vary widely. Most life on this planet consumes its energy by eating other biological matter, but without some kind of producer's "botanical life" converting energy the ecosystem would come crashing down.
Alien life may be like the former, and as with plants absorb energy from light or another source.
There is even the possibility that they have evolved without physical form or with no fixed form—perhaps there are extraterrestrials that are nothing more than sentient clouds, or who have mutable bodies that can alter to suit the needs of the moment.
On this planet, we have an animal that already does this, the octopus.
Octopuses make for a good alien analogue they are surprisingly intelligent, some have claimed they may even be as intelligent as us!
Evolution has gifted them with a form which can change to size shape and colour if we weren't so used to seeing them these abilities would seem alien to us. We are used to having a fixed form this coming from our evolutionary path, a path which is said to have separated from that of the Octopus around 800 million years ago. And yet in an example of parallel evolution in nature, the eye of the octopus is identical to that of a human being.
We have gone onto develop technology whereas the octopus has remained in their watery abode, maybe having no need or drive to advance.
If we use technology as a measure of intelligence then another path is opened up, as with natural evolution technology must also evolve and thus shares some steps that it must go through to reach certain markers.
This also points to the need for the entity building the technology to have the physical means to do so Hands with fingers for delicate, precise manipulation of detailed objects. A form of locomotion that leaves limbs free to touch hold and move things in the environment.
The need for at a minimum binocular vision to judge distance these Eyes being close to the brain to reduce the time delay and degradation of the visual signal.
Also, the other four senses that are needed for survival- used to detect food, mates, and predators, the development of extra senses adding to the basic senses needed to be successful, like dolphins and bats who have evolved echolocation.
Or a sense that has developed to replace one which is not needed think of animals that live in dark caves or the ocean depths that can light up or exude chemicals to communicate.
There is no reason to think that advanced alien intelligence may not have these senses.

These senses may even go as far as allowing these aliens to be shape-shifters, beings that have consciousness control of their body to a molecular level.
This control would mean instant adaptation to new environments, the possibility to ingest any type of other molecular structure as sustenance.
If they had control of these building blocks we could assume that their technology would bridge the artificial with the biological and would be far ahead of our own. We see something similar on this planet with the gears found in planthoppers' legs.
The idea of biology and evolution already using cogs leads one to wonder what else might exist. Maybe something like naturally evolved silicon circuitry?
Some speculate that if aliens had or have evolved to have a civilization similar to ours they would have a similar body form.
All of the focus thus far has been purely on the physical characteristics but what would play an equally important part of any alien-human interaction would be the psychological.
What would alien behaviour be like?
We as a species find it almost impossible to communicate with intelligent animals here on our planet, heck we have a hard enough time talking to one another sometimes.
We are left with questions. What will an alien encounter be like?
How will an interaction go?
What will they be like, will they be solitary, a part of a herd or arrive in small bands?
What do think these aliens will look and behave like, do we already know because they have been here all along let me know what you think in the comments below.

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