Centauri Dreams has posted a review of Princeton astrophysicist Richard Gott's take on the Fermi Paradox and the future of human civilization. Gott uses the Copernican Principle to suggest that humanity likely represents a typical civilization and that humans better get going on colonization efforts before it's too late.
This conclusion is very similar to the one I'll be presenting at TransVision 2007 a week from today in Chicago. Specifically, I will be speaking about the implications of our failing search for extraterrestrial civilizations. While my presentation does touch upon the threat of human extinction, I will also be offering some other non-catastrophic solutions to the Great Silence problem (namely localized digital existence).
As for Gott's argument, I whole heartedly agree that the Copernican Principle can be applied to the Fermi question. We should self-sample ourselves and subsequently not assume that a) we're somehow different than other civs, and b) there are more radically advanced civs in the Galaxy than pre-Singularity civs.
Yes, it's an upsetting conclusion, but that's where the data is pointing.
At TV07 I will also be arguing that the Copernican Principle trumps Occam's Razor in this matter. It's been said (by Kurzweil and others) that the most simplest explanation to the Fermi problem is that we're the first intelligence to emerge in the Galaxy.
To tackle this, I spend the first third of my presentation taking apart the Rare Earth Hypothesis (and other related notions) in an attempt to show that this suggestion is not only grossly improbable, but a bi-product of human arrogance and anthropocentrism.
It's Copernicus all over again.