claude garrett
Published © GPL3+

Fermi Paradox Explanations

Ever wondered why we haven't been able to contact aliens? Just ask Fermi Paradox for an explanation!

BeginnerFull instructions provided3 hours75

Things used in this project

Hardware components

Echo Dot
Amazon Alexa Echo Dot
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Software apps and online services

Alexa Skills Kit
Amazon Alexa Alexa Skills Kit


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Fermi Paradox code

This code is based on the Fact Skill Template (aka Space Geek).
    Copyright 2014-2015, Inc. or its affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

    Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"). You may not use this file except in compliance with the License. A copy of the License is located at

    or in the "license" file accompanying this file. This file is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.

 * This simple sample has no external dependencies or session management, and shows the most basic
 * example of how to create a Lambda function for handling Alexa Skill requests.
 * Examples:
 * One-shot model:
 *  User: "Alexa, ask Fermi Paradox for an Explanation"
 *  Alexa: "Earth is deliberately not contacted.  The zoo hypothesis states that ..."

 * App ID for the skill
var APP_ID = undefined; //OPTIONAL: replace with "[your-unique-value-here]";

 * Array containing Fermi Paradox titles.
 var TITLES = [
 "that Extraterrestrial life is rare or non-existent",
 "that No other intelligent species have arisen",
 "that Intelligent alien species lack advanced technology",
 "that It is the nature of intelligent life to destroy itself",
 "that It is the nature of intelligent life to destroy others",
 "Periodic extinction by natural events",
 "Resource depletion and climate change",
 "the Inflation hypothesis and the youngness argument",
 "that Intelligent civilizations are too far apart in space or time",
 "that It is too expensive to spread physically throughout the galaxy",
 "that Human beings have not existed long enough",
 "that Humans are not listening properly",
 "that Civilizations broadcast detectable radio signals only for a brief period of time",
 "that They tend to isolate themselves",
 "that They are too alien",
 "that Everyone is listening, no one is transmitting",
 "that Earth is deliberately not contacted",
 "that Earth is purposely isolated (planetarium hypothesis)",
 "that It is dangerous to communicate",
 "that They are here undetected",
 "that They are here unacknowledged"
 * Array containing Fermi Paradox facts.
var FACTS = [
    "Those who think that intelligent extraterrestrial life is nearly impossible argue that the conditions needed for the evolution of life—or at least the evolution of biological complexity—are rare or even unique to Earth. Under this assumption, called the rare Earth hypothesis, a rejection of the mediocrity principle, complex multicellular life is regarded as exceedingly unusual. The Rare Earth hypothesis argues that the evolution of biological complexity requires a host of fortuitous circumstances, such as a galactic habitable zone, a central star and planetary system having the requisite character, the circumstellar habitable zone, a right sized terrestrial planet, the advantage of a giant guardian like Jupiter and a large natural satellite, conditions needed to ensure the planet has a magnetosphere and plate tectonics, the chemistry of the lithosphere, atmosphere, and oceans, the role of evolutionary pumps such as massive glaciation and rare bolide impacts, and whatever led to the appearance of the eukaryote cell, sexual reproduction and the Cambrian explosion.",
    "It is possible that even if complex life is common, intelligence and consequently civilizations is not. While there are remote sensing techniques that could perhaps detect life-bearing planets without relying on the signs of technology, none of them has any ability to tell if any detected life is intelligent. This is sometimes referred to as the algae vs. alumnae problem",
    "It may be that while alien species with intelligence exist, they are primitive or have not reached the level of technological advancement necessary to communicate. Along with non-intelligent life, such civilizations would be also very difficult for humans to detect. To skeptics, the fact that in the history of life on the Earth only one species has developed a civilization to the point of being capable of spaceflight and radio technology, lends more credence to the idea that technologically advanced civilizations are rare in the universe.",
    "This is the argument that technological civilizations may usually or invariably destroy themselves before or shortly after developing radio or spaceflight technology. Possible means of annihilation are many, including war, accidental environmental contamination, or poorly designed artificial intelligence. This general theme is explored both in fiction and in scientific hypothesizing. In 1966, Sagan and Shklovskii speculated that technological civilizations will either tend to destroy themselves within a century of developing interstellar communicative capability or master their self-destructive tendencies and survive for billion-year timescales. Self-annihilation may also be viewed in terms of thermodynamics: insofar as life is an ordered system that can sustain itself against the tendency to disorder, the external transmission or interstellar communicative phase may be the point at which the system becomes unstable and self-destructs.",
    "Another hypothesis is that an intelligent species beyond a certain point of technological capability will destroy other intelligent species as they appear. The idea that something, or someone, might be destroying intelligent life in the universe has been explored in the scientific literature. A species might undertake such extermination out of expansionist motives, paranoia, or aggression. In 1981, cosmologist Edward Harrison argued that such behavior would be an act of prudence: an intelligent species that has overcome its own self-destructive tendencies might view any other species bent on galactic expansion as a threat. It has also been suggested that a successful alien species would be a superpredator, as are humans.",
    "New life might commonly die out due to runaway heating or cooling on their fledgling planets. On Earth, there have been numerous major extinction events that destroyed the majority of complex species alive at the time; the extinction of the dinosaurs is the best known example. These are thought to have been caused by events such as impact from a large meteorite, massive volcanic eruptions, or astronomical events such as gamma-ray bursts. It may be the case that such extinction events are common throughout the universe and periodically destroy intelligent life, or at least its civilizations, before the species is able to develop the technology to communicate with other species.",
    "Astronomer Adam Frank argues that industrial evolution in other planets may lead to a sustainability crisis, eventually leading to devastating climate change.",
    "Cosmologist Alan Guth proposed a multi-verse solution to the Fermi paradox. This hypothesis uses the synchronous gauge probability distribution, that young universes exceedingly outnumber older ones by a factor of e1037 for every second of age. Therefore, averaged over all universes, universes with civilizations will almost always have just one, the first to develop. However, Guth notes Perhaps this argument explains why SETI has not found any signals from alien civilizations, but I find it more plausible that it is merely a symptom that the synchronous gauge probability distribution is not the right one.",
    "It may be that non-colonizing technologically capable alien civilizations exist, but that they are simply too far apart for meaningful two-way communication. If two civilizations are separated by several thousand light-years, it is possible that one or both cultures may become extinct before meaningful dialogue can be established. Human searches may be able to detect their existence, but communication will remain impossible because of distance. It has been suggested that this problem might be ameliorated somewhat if contact/communication is made through a Bracewell probe. In this case at least one partner in the exchange may obtain meaningful information. Alternatively, a civilization may simply broadcast its knowledge, and leave it to the receiver to make what they may of it. This is similar to the transmission of information from ancient civilizations to the present, and humanity has undertaken similar activities like the Arecibo message, which could transfer information about Earth's intelligent species, even if it never yields a response or does not yield a response in time for humanity to receive it. It is also possible that archaeological evidence of past civilizations may be detected through deep space observations. A related speculation by Sagan and Newman suggests that if other civilizations exist, and are transmitting and exploring, their signals and probes simply have not arrived yet. However, critics have noted that this is unlikely, since it requires that humanity's advancement has occurred at a very special point in time, while the Milky Way is in transition from empty to full. This is a tiny fraction of the lifespan of a galaxy under ordinary assumptions and calculations resulting from them, so the likelihood that we are in the midst of this transition is considered low in the paradox",
    "Many speculations about the ability of an alien culture to colonize other star systems are based on the idea that interstellar travel is technologically feasible. While the current understanding of physics rules out the possibility of faster-than-light travel, it appears that there are no major theoretical barriers to the construction of slow interstellar ships, even though the engineering required is considerably beyond our present capabilities. This idea underlies the concept of the Von Neumann probe and the Bracewell probe as a potential evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence. It is possible, however, that present scientific knowledge cannot properly gauge the feasibility and costs of such interstellar colonization. Theoretical barriers may not yet be understood, and the cost of materials and energy for such ventures may be so high as to make it unlikely that any civilization could afford to attempt it. Even if interstellar travel and colonization are possible, they may be difficult, leading to a colonization model based on percolation theory. Colonization efforts may not occur as an unstoppable rush, but rather as an uneven tendency to percolate outwards, within an eventual slowing and termination of the effort given the enormous costs involved and the fact that colonies will inevitably develop a culture and civilization of their own. Colonization may thus occur in clusters, with large areas remaining uncolonized at any one time. If exploration is the primary motive for expansion, then it is possible that mind uploading and similar technologies may reduce the desire to colonize by replacing physical travel with much cheaper communication. Therefore the first civilization may have physically explored or colonized the galaxy, but subsequent civilizations find it cheaper, faster, and easier to travel by contacting existing civilizations rather than physically exploring or traveling themselves. This leads to little or no physical travel at the current epoch, and only directed communications, which are hard to see except to the intended receiver.",
    "Humanity's ability to detect intelligent extraterrestrial life has existed for only a very brief period—from 1937 onwards, if the invention of the radio telescope is taken as the dividing line—and Homo sapiens is a geologically recent species. The whole period of modern human existence to date is a very brief period on a cosmological scale, and radio transmissions have only been propagated since 1895. Thus, it remains possible that human beings have neither existed long enough nor made themselves sufficiently detectable to be found by extraterrestrial intelligence.",
    "There are some assumptions that underlie the SETI programs that may cause searchers to miss signals that are present. Extraterrestrials might, for example, transmit signals that have a very high or low data rate, or employ unconventional in our terms data compression, frequencies, or modulations. Signals might be sent from non-main sequence star systems that we search with lower priority; current programs assume that most alien life will be orbiting Sun-like stars. The greatest challenge is the sheer size of the radio search needed to look for signals effectively spanning the entire visible universe, the limited amount of resources committed to SETI, and the sensitivity of modern instruments. SETI estimates, for instance, that with a radio telescope as sensitive as the Arecibo Observatory, Earth's television and radio broadcasts would only be detectable at distances up to 0.3 light-years, less than 1/10 the distance to the nearest star. A signal is much easier to detect if the signal energy is limited to either a narrow range of frequencies, or directed at a specific part of the sky. Such signals could be detected at ranges of hundreds to tens of thousands of light-years distance. However, this means that detectors must be listening to an appropriate range of frequencies, and be in that region of space to which the beam is being sent. Many SETI searches assume that extraterrestrial civilizations will be broadcasting a deliberate signal, like the Arecibo message, in order to be found. Thus to detect alien civilizations through their radio emissions, Earth observers either need more sensitive instruments or must hope for fortunate circumstances: that the broadband radio emissions of alien radio technology are much stronger than our own; that one of SETI's programs is listening to the correct frequencies from the right regions of space; or that aliens are deliberately sending focused transmissions in our general direction.",
    "It has been suggested that some advanced beings may divest themselves of physical form, create massive artificial virtual environments, transfer themselves into these environments through mind uploading, and exist totally within virtual worlds, ignoring the external physical universe. It may also be that intelligent alien life develop an increasing disinterest in their outside world. Possibly any sufficiently advanced society will develop highly engaging media and entertainment well before the capacity for advanced space travel, and that the rate of appeal of these social contrivances is destined, because of their inherent reduced complexity, to overtake any desire for complex, expensive endeavors such as space exploration and communication. Once any sufficiently advanced civilization becomes able to master its environment, and most of its physical needs are met through technology, various social and entertainment technologies, including virtual reality, are postulated to become the primary drivers and motivations of that civilization.",
    "Another possibility is that human theoreticians have underestimated how much alien life might differ from that on Earth. Aliens may be psychologically unwilling to attempt to communicate with human beings. Perhaps human mathematics is parochial to Earth and not shared by other life, though others argue this can only apply to abstract math since the math associated with physics must be similar in results, if not in methods. Physiology might also cause a communication barrier. Carl Sagan speculated that an alien species might have a thought process orders of magnitude slower or faster than humans. A message broadcast by that species might well seem like random background noise to humans, and therefore go undetected. Another thought is that technological civilizations invariably experience a technological singularity and attain a post-biological character. Hypothetical civilizations of this sort may have advanced drastically enough to render communication impossible.",
    "Alien civilizations might be technically capable of contacting Earth, but are only listening instead of transmitting. If all, or even most, civilizations act the same way, the galaxy could be full of civilizations eager for contact, but everyone is listening and no one is transmitting. This is the so-called SETI Paradox. The only civilization we know, the Earth, does not explicitly transmit, except for a few small efforts. Even these efforts, and certainly any attempt to expand them, are controversial. It is not even clear we would respond to a detected signal—the official policy within the SETI community is that no response to a signal or other evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence should be sent until appropriate international consultations have taken place. However, given the possible impact of any reply it may be very difficult to obtain any consensus on Who speaks for Earth? and What should we say?",
    "The zoo hypothesis states that intelligent extraterrestrial life exists and does not contact life on Earth to allow for its natural evolution and development. This hypothesis may break down under the uniformity of motive flaw: all it takes is a single culture or civilization to decide to act contrary to the imperative within our range of detection for it to be abrogated, and the probability of such a violation increases with the number of civilizations. Analysis of the inter-arrival times between civilizations in the galaxy based on common astrobiological assumptions suggests that since the initial civilization would have such a commanding lead over the later arrivals, it may have established what we call zoo hypothesis as a galactic/universal norm and the resultant quote unquote paradox by a cultural founder effect with or without the continued activity of the founder.",
    "A related idea to the zoo hypothesis is that, beyond a certain distance, the perceived universe is a simulated reality. The planetarium hypothesis speculates that beings may have created this simulation so that the universe appears to be empty of other life.",
    "An alien civilization might feel it is too dangerous to communicate, either for us or for them. After all, when very different civilizations have met on Earth, the results have often been disastrous for one side or the other, and the same may well apply to interstellar contact. Even contact at a safe distance could lead to infection by computer code or even ideas themselves. Perhaps prudent civilizations actively hide not only from Earth but from everyone, out of fear of other civilizations. Perhaps the Fermi paradox itself—or the alien equivalent of it—is the reason for any civilization to avoid contact with other civilizations, even if no other obstacles existed. From any one civilization's point of view, it would be unlikely for them to be the first ones to make first contact. Therefore, according to this reasoning, it is likely that previous civilizations faced fatal problems with first contact and doing so should be avoided. So perhaps every civilization keeps quiet because of the possibility that there is a real reason for others to do so.",
    "It is possible that a civilization advanced enough to travel between the stars could visit or observe our world while remaining undetected.",
    "A significant fraction of the population believes that at least some UFOs Unidentified Flying Objects are spacecraft piloted by aliens. While most of these are unrecognized or mistaken interpretations of mundane phenomena, there are those that remain puzzling even after investigation. The consensus scientific view is that although they may be unexplained, they do not rise to the level of convincing evidence. Similarly, it is theoretically possible that SETI groups are not reporting positive detections, or governments have been blocking signals or suppressing publication. This response might be attributed to security or economic interests from the potential use of advanced extraterrestrial technology. It has been suggested that the detection of an extraterrestrial radio signal or technology could well be the most highly secret information that exists. Claims that this has already happened are common in the popular press, but the scientists involved report the opposite experience, the press becomes informed and interested in a potential detection even before a signal can be confirmed."

 * The AlexaSkill prototype and helper functions
var AlexaSkill = require('./AlexaSkill');

 * myFermiParadox is a child of AlexaSkill.
 * To read more about inheritance in JavaScript, see the link below.
 * @see
var Fact = function () {, APP_ID);

// Extend AlexaSkill
Fact.prototype = Object.create(AlexaSkill.prototype);
Fact.prototype.constructor = Fact;

Fact.prototype.eventHandlers.onSessionStarted = function (sessionStartedRequest, session) {
    //console.log("onSessionStarted requestId: " + sessionStartedRequest.requestId + ", sessionId: " + session.sessionId);
    // any initialization logic goes here

Fact.prototype.eventHandlers.onLaunch = function (launchRequest, session, response) {
    //console.log("onLaunch requestId: " + launchRequest.requestId + ", sessionId: " + session.sessionId);

 * Overridden to show that a subclass can override this function to teardown session state.
Fact.prototype.eventHandlers.onSessionEnded = function (sessionEndedRequest, session) {
    //console.log("onSessionEnded requestId: " + sessionEndedRequest.requestId + ", sessionId: " + session.sessionId);
    // any cleanup logic goes here

Fact.prototype.intentHandlers = {
    "GetNewFactIntent": function (intent, session, response) {

    "AMAZON.HelpIntent": function (intent, session, response) {
        response.ask("You can say tell me an answer, or, you can say exit... What can I help you with?", "What can I help you with?");

    "AMAZON.StopIntent": function (intent, session, response) {
        var speechOutput = "Goodbye";

    "AMAZON.CancelIntent": function (intent, session, response) {
        var speechOutput = "Goodbye";

 * Gets a random new fact from the list and returns to the user.
function handleNewFactRequest(response) {
    // Get a random explanation from the facts
    var factIndex = Math.floor(Math.random() * FACTS.length);
    var randomFact = FACTS[factIndex];
    var randomTitle = TITLES[factIndex];

    // Create speech output
    var speechOutput = "A possible explanation of the Fermi Paradox is " + randomTitle + ". " + randomFact;
    var cardTitle = randomTitle;
    response.tellWithCard(speechOutput, cardTitle, speechOutput);

// Create the handler that responds to the Alexa Request.
exports.handler = function (event, context) {
    // Create an instance of the Fermi Paradox skill.
    var fact = new Fact();
    fact.execute(event, context);


claude garrett

claude garrett

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