spaceSpace and Physics

Aliens Will Probably Be Machines, Not Little Green Men, Says SETI Expert


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer


Seth Shostak, speaking on StarTalk. YouTube

What might aliens look like? That’s a question that has often been pondered, and normally people suggest little green men, giant heads, and so forth.

But Seth Shostak, director of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) institute in California, has suggested they might not look very normal at all. In fact, he thinks they might be more like machines, which seems to be a direction the human race is going too.


“Think what we’re gonna do in this century, which is invent thinking machines,” he said on the show StarTalk, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. “The aliens have probably already done that, so the real aliens probably look like machines.”

Of course, he doesn’t mean that they’ll be walking, talking robots. Rather, he’s alluding to how in the not too distant future, many roles might be performed autonomously, by some form of artificial intelligence. Perhaps, further afield, that artificial intelligence is more likely to outlast its biological counterpart, and explore the stars itself.

“The time between having the technology to signal into space and inventing artificial intelligence is only a few centuries –  which is incredibly short cosmically speaking,” Shostak said to IFLScience via email. “To me, that says that the majority of the intelligence in the universe is synthetic.”

Shostak had lamented earlier in the show that many UFO sightings always seem to portray aliens in the same way. And there’s a lot of them – 10,000 to 20,000 each year. He also said he gets a lot of calls from UFO enthusiasts himself.


Check out the video and Shostak’s comments below. Maybe don't read the comments on YouTube, though.


spaceSpace and Physics
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