Due to humanity’s relative youth, some experts believe civilisations could have sprung up around the universe billions of years ago, with capabilities well ahead of man.
Now, one scientist claims an alien race far away could be “post-biological” and may have merged with artificial intelligence to become part machine.
Susan Schneider of the University of Connecticut said: “I do not believe that most advanced alien civilisations will be biological.
“The most sophisticated civilisations will be post-biological forms of artificial intelligence or alien super-intelligence.
“There may be lots of life in the cosmos but the greatest alien intelligences will probably be post-biological having grown out of biological civilisations.”
In a recent study, Ms Schneider say there are three criteria which she believes means advanced aliens have transcended their physical form.
The first is “the short window observation” – she believes that once a society has created technology that allows them to observe the universe, they are centuries away from merging with machines, she argues.
This theory is based on human evolution. Our civilisation has only been travelling into space for a matter of decades, but are already starting our own AI merging with the invention and reliance on smartphones and other technology.
The next criteria is “the greater age of alien civilisations” – the older a civilisation is, the more likely it will begin enhancing itself with technology.
Ms Schneider says: “If civilisations are millions or billions of years older than us, many would be vastly more intelligent than we are.
“By our standards, many would be super-intelligent. We are galactic babies.”
Thirdly, Ms Schneider believes that advanced beings would not be carbon-based, but silicon as it is a more durable form.
She said: “It’s easier for instance to survive space travel. There’s tremendous computational power available and there are no physical limitations like the skull and a machine could in principle reach super-intelligence quicker than a human.
“There would be near-immortality and reliability.”
However, with all of this in mind, it could turn out that we are alone.
She said: “The universe could be a lonely place, we still do not know the conditions that created life on this planet.”