It makes perfect sense to search for intelligent life, even human beings indigenous to other planets. It is absurd to think we are the only ones. Considering the infinite volume of space and the infinite expanse of time, we really have not searched much at all.
Allow me to present what I call the Ilyan Kei Lavanway Spectrum of Extraterrestrial Technological Development, IKL Spectrum for short. The IKL Spectrum compares various levels of alien technology to our current level of technological development. This says nothing about alien social structures, alien cultures, alien ideologies, alien philosophies, or alien religions. Such topics are beyond the scope of this article, though not beyond the scope of this website. Perhaps we’ll address those topics later.
The zero point on the IKL Spectrum is the center of the spectrum and represents our current level of technological development. The negative direction, extending toward the left of the page, represents levels of alien technologies less advanced than ours. The positive direction, extending toward the right of the page, represents levels of alien technologies more advanced than ours.
Let’s arbitrarily label five general levels of extraterrestrial technological development relative to ours as follows: Alien technologies far less advanced than ours will be categorized as negative two on the IKL Spectrum. Those slightly less advanced than ours will be classed as negative one. Technologies equal to our current level of development will comprise category zero. Extraterrestrial technologies slightly more advanced than ours will fall into category one, and those far more advanced will be considered category two.
Now, let’s consider another factor. Apples and oranges. You cannot adequately compare the two, because they are entirely different in their make up and properties and traits. You might subjectively compare levels of ripeness on a common spectrum, but that is as much comparison as you can push. Keep that in mind when we talk about comparing alien technological development to our own.
Category zero on the IKL Spectrum, meaning alien technology that has achieved the same level of advancement as ours, may be so vastly different in its paradigm that we would have nothing with which to compare it, nor would we be able to detect it. It would be somewhat like trying to search for hydrocarbon emissions to identify an alien infrastructure that is based solely on electricity or light or magnetism.
Discussing levels of technological development among intelligent alien civilizations is completely different than addressing the basis or the type of their technology. Aliens driving electric cars similar in complexity to our electric cars would never be detected if we were looking for hydrocarbon emissions. Just because we depend on fossil fuels does not mean they do. This is just an analogy to illustrate one possible reason why, after decades of SETI operations, we have no conclusive, empirical evidence of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence.
We may be looking at all the wrong indicators. We are only capable of observing and applying a narrow band of the infinite electromagnetic spectrum. We assume intelligent extraterrestrial life is using the electromagnetic spectrum for observation and communication, just like we do. And we assume intelligent extraterrestrial beings use frequencies and amplitudes that are detectable by our instruments.
There is an infinite spectrum of technological development among intelligent societies and civilizations. I call it the IKL Spectrum, as defined above. Any given extraterrestrial civilization could be at any level of development along the IKL Spectrum. Some are more advanced than us. Some are less advanced than us. Some are more or less on par with us.
Some, probably most, use a paradigm of technology so vastly different from our own that even with a level of development comparable to ours, their type of technology is so different, we cannot recognize it. Quite possibly, some extraterrestrials cannot recognize our type of technology for similar reasons.
Again, it would be like comparing apples and oranges of equal ripeness. The level of ripeness may be the same, but apples simply cannot be compared to oranges, because they are so vastly different.
Extraterrestrials far less advanced than us are probably not generating any artificial signals at any wavelength and amplitude. Extraterrestrials far more advanced than us likely observe and communicate by methods involving quantum mechanics, allowing instantaneous transmission, reception, and processing of data, completely independent of the electromagnetic spectrum, bypassing it altogether. Thus, in either case, we cannot detect extraterrestrial intelligence.
Extraterrestrials slightly more advanced than us may be using ranges of the spectrum that are not detectable to us. Perhaps they use sub-radio frequencies for some things and super-gamma ranges for other things.
Extraterrestrials that are somewhat on par with our level of technology may use similar wavelengths in the spectrum but use amplitudes far below what we can discern with our current instruments. It may be analogous to whispering in an old man's ear. His brain can process the wavelengths generated by your vocal cords, but the amplitude is so low, he cannot hear it. As far as he knows, there is no sound to process. It doesn't mean isn't there. It just means he can't hear it.
Just because we use a narrow, little portion of the infinite electromagnetic spectrum, and our entire technology revolves around hydrocarbon combustion and semiconductor electronics and sub-luminal movement of matter doesn't mean everyone else out there is stuck in the same rut.