By 2120, most communications on Earth will no longer be biological: ScienceAlert

Life on Earth is a glorious dance of data. From the songs of backyard birds to the chemical exchanges of forest trees, sharing information between organisms is an essential part of their existence and evolution.

Humans are also a part of that dance, with conversations of friendship over morning coffee, bold headlines in newspapers, and TikTok videos for teens.

Right now, human data is just one part of the live data exchange on Earth, but it could soon become the dominant part. And if the same is true of all advanced civilizations, it could affect our search for alien life.

Although it would be nearly impossible to get an exact measure of the rate of data exchanged between terrestrial organisms, you can estimate the rate as an order of magnitude.

One way to do this is to look at the number of living cells and share data about them because they make up the bulk of life on Earth. Based on many studies, the total number of prokaryotes, such as bacteria, is about 1029 cells. These cells exchange one piece of information in about 3 hours, so the Earth’s biosphere exchanges on a very large scale about 1024 bits of information every second.

In contrast, the technological environment, or the sum total of digital information that humans exchange, is a little easier to estimate. Based on data exchange over the internet, our bit rate is around 1015 bits/second, which is a billionth of the biosphere rate.

But while the biosphere has been relatively stable over time (except for the occasional mass extinction), our digital data is growing at an exponential rate. If our technological ocean continues to expand at historic rates, it will overtake the biosphere in less than a century.

So what does this have to do with alien civilizations?

Data is exchanged at the physical level. Whether it’s through chemical reactions, optical fibers, or electrical circuits, all data needs energy to create and maintain. Currently, that energy is centered around biosphere data, but it could be dominated by technosphere data in a cosmic blink of an eye.

If this trend is typical for advanced civilizations, the energy spectrum of a planet with intelligent life is more likely to be technological, rather than biological. We may therefore be able to distinguish the worlds of an alien civilization by looking for a clear artificial heat signature.

But even we don’t care about aliens, the growing technological ocean will have disastrous consequences for life on Earth.

Humans already have an enormous impact on Earth’s biodiversity and global temperatures. If we continue with our trend of exponential growth, we can significantly reduce the data resources of non-human life. Maybe this is something we should talk about.

This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.

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