Great Filter

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The Great Filter is a proposed explanation for the Fermi Paradox. Robin Hanson coined the term in his 1998 essay The Great Filter. The titular Filter refers to whatever forces prevent the development of an interstellar civilization. These forces might be present at any stage of development, i.e. an "early filter" which prevents the formation of life, a "middle filter" which prevents life from attaining sentience, or a "late filter" which prevents sentient life from spreading beyond its home planet. Any of these filters could account for the lack of visible evidence for extraterrestrial life. Hanson argues that our lack of knowledge regarding the position of the filter should make us more cautious, as a "late filter" would imply that we have low odds of successfully colonizing space and our survival may be in danger.

Katja Grace [argues on her blog that the self indication assumption should lead us to suspect that the Great Filter is still ahead of us.

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