[Question] What if we’re not the first AI-capable civilization on Earth?

There is such a strong association between the topic of ancient advanced civilizations and crazy fringe people, it’s almost impossible to separate them. Even SETI has a better reputation.

But the topic seems to be worth a serious consideration:

  • Asking if there were advanced civilizations on Earth before us is a valid scientific inquiry. It is of the same validity as asking if there are advanced civilizations beyond Earth.

  • We don’t know if there were advanced civilizations before us. The problem is, even if our current global civilization is destroyed, it will be hard to find any evidence of its existence only after 50k years or something. By the time, even our largest cities will be ground to dust and buried by hundreds of meters of sediments. And after some millions of years, the future archeologists will have a hard time finding anything at all, unless they’re specifically looking for signatures of advanced civilizations (e.g. anomalous CO2 levels in ice cores).

  • There is a time abyss. Anatomically modern humans have been around for 300k years. That’s enough time for several repetitions of our path from early agriculture to computers. And before humans, there could have been other sufficiently brainy species (e.g. Troodon dinosaurs).

So, the interesting question is, what if we’re not the first AI-capable civilization on Earth?

If we ever find an unquestionable evidence of the existence of such a civilization, it could shed light on our own prospects. It’s one thing to speculate about AGI destroying the world, but another thing to see an archeological evidence of such a destruction.

And maybe the ancient genocidal AGI is still around somewhere.

No answers.