“Where is everybody?” There’s a much more plausible answer to the question than the entirely reasonable but irrelevant evolutionary theory posited in this article.

The more plausible answer is a little more complex.

Firstly, we know nothing of the probability of tool-making life arising on any world, never mind our own. We’re here because of a huge number of stochastic events. We more easily could not be here. Remember, of all the hundreds of millions of successful species this planet has witnessed, we’re the only ones to create technology. So maybe life doesn’t often give rise to technology-creating creatures. We just don’t have meaningful data so we can’t arrive at a meaningful conclusion. The Drake equation is predicated on a lot of unwarranted assumptions.

Secondly, although sci-fi depends on FTL travel and a willful ignorance regarding relativity, reality means that vast distances are exceedingly difficult and expensive to traverse. It’s not implausible to imagine technology-creating creatures destroying themselves (as we’re doing) long before they have the capacity to leave their own solar system, never mind go far beyond — a trip that would require an astonishing degree of optimism given the enormous duration required to travel even to the nearest star. So even if a species arose that could survive its own self-harming tendencies, the question is why would it journey into the void?

Thirdly, even if technology-creating life isn’t a vanishingly small percentage of all life, there’s a timing issue. Let’s arbitrarily say that 60 light years is about the maximum any technological civilization could span. What’s the chance that two such civilizations will arise within the same narrow window of time? Given that we’ve had rudimentary space tech for less than 100 years and are very likely to vanish as a species within the next few hundred years, we can see that any overlap between technological civilizations within any reasonable radius is vanishingly small.

And finally, how long would a technological species last? Homo sapiens has been around somewhere in the region of 400,000 years and it’s only been in the last few decades we’ve developed space tech. That same tech originated in war and most likely will end in war. Will we last even another 4,000 years? Highly unlikely. And forget the hype about people merging with machines to become immortal — that’s just sci-fi written by folk who have very little grasp of the underlying complexities and don’t comprehend just how little we know about how the brain functions. It’s the 21st century equivalent of the Frankenstein monster: amusing, but not based on anything real.

So the answer to the question: “where is everybody?” turns out to be: there’s probably no one out there within a reasonable distance at this moment in time. Maybe there was another civilization out there a long time back, and maybe there will be another at some distant time in the future, but for right now and right here we’re almost certainly alone to all intents and purposes.

So no need to worry about the Dark Forest — we’re the only ones inhabiting it.

Sadly we’re in the process of cutting it all down.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.