Solution Intelligence at the Human Level Is Rare

Mind is the great lever of all things; human thought is the process by which human ends are alternately answered.

Daniel Webster

When Fermi asked "where is everybody?", the "everybody" referred to intelligent extraterrestrial creatures. While the discovery of any life elsewhere would be profoundly important, it is intelligent life we search for. It is (presumably) only intelligent life that can travel between stars and with whom we can communicate, interact and learn from. But perhaps intelligence — the sort that can understand the laws of physics and construct radio telescopes — is rare in the Universe? As many as 50 billion species may have lived on Earth, but only one has the sort of intelligence required. Perhaps the development of intelligence is a fluke, so that the fi term in the Drake equation is small.

There are many aspects to this question, but there is space here to address only two. First, what is intelligence? Second, how did it evolve?

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