Key Takeaways:

  • Researchers propose a concept where all life on a planet combines to form a vast intelligence.
  • Focusing on “planetary intelligence” might be a better approach to finding advanced extraterrestrial civilizations.
  • Our actions significantly affect the planet’s well-being, potentially disrupting its natural balance.
  • We lack the ability to work together effectively for the planet’s health.
  • Understanding “planetary intelligence” could guide us in solving Earth’s problems and searching for advanced life.

A group of researchers have posed a fascinating — and downright mind bending — thought experiment: If a planet like Earth can be “alive,” can it also have a mind of its own?

The group investigated the question in a paper that was published in the International Journal of Astrobiology. They introduce the concept of “planetary intelligence,” which defines the combined knowledge and intelligence of an entire planet, in it.

Even though it looks like something straight out of a Marvel film, some think the idea could actually help us find extraterrestrial life or even address global problems like climate change.

The researchers suggest that extensive networks of life could create a vast invisible intelligence that significantly affects the condition of the entire planet, using evidence of underground fungi networks communicating.

They point out that humans are one of the main species causing that change right now, and that we might be permanently changing the balance of the environment due to issues like the plastic crisis and the climate.

According to a press release about the paper, coauthor Adam Frank, a physics professor at the University of Rochester, said, “We don’t yet have the ability to communally respond in the best interests of the planet.”

The researchers believe that such thought experiments can help humans to understand their impact on the Earth and serve as a guide on how to better it. It’s interesting to note that they also think it might help with the hunt for aliens.

“We’re saying the only technological civilizations we may ever see — the ones we should expect to see — are the ones that didn’t kill themselves, meaning they must have reached the stage of a true planetary intelligence,” said Frank.

“That’s the power of this line of inquiry,” he said. “It unites what we need to know to survive the climate crisis with what might happen on any planet where life and intelligence evolve.”

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