In addition to the space program, NASA funds numerous R&D efforts to examine all aspects of space travel, life in space, the use of technology and the existence of other life out there. In the realm of SETI, much of the R&D has to do with one of two areas. One is how and or under what conditions we might actually communicate with other beings and the second is how we humans will react to the news that there is life out there. Some place in the middle of these two ideas is questions like “Why have we not heard from any other life yet?” and “What level of technology development is necessary to make communications possible?” Such questions often have to cross over into the realm of sociology, psychology, evolution and logic. Surprisingly, such analysis lends itself rather easily to computer modeling and to quantifiable analysis. NASA has been using computer analysis of these kinds of subjects for years and has developed some very good models that allow for the simulation of the past, present and future actions of society, technology and the psychology of the evolving brain.
These models are validated by putting in data about what we knew in 1500 and then letting it predict what would happen to society and morals in 1800. When it got it wrong, the model was tweaked and run again. This process was repeated thousands of times until the model predicted what actually happened in 1800. Then the process began again for different dates. After thousands of trials like this, they have created social models that very accurately predict the interplay of sociology, psychology, evolution and technology.
What is not as well known is that once validated for long spans of time, the model is further refined for shorter and shorter periods of time until it can predict social responses on the order of a few decades or less. Unlike weather modeling that gets more accurate as the period gets shorter, in social modeling, it become more complex because there is no averaging of responses over time. The short term knee-jerk reactions to immediate news reports can vary the responses wildly. The processing power needed for shorter periods of time become increasingly very large as the period gets shorter. In recent years, the power of computers has allowed this model development to reduce the prediction period down to less than 10 years with very high accuracy and under 5 years with accuracies as high as 70%.
It took an incident for NASA to realize how dangerous this model had become. It was just too tempting to keep from using it to predict the stock market and at least one scientist made a fortune when he use the model to accurately predict the market drop at the end of the third quarter of 2008. A lot of work went into covering that up and then NASA pulled the black curtain over the whole project. It has been in deep cover ever since. I became aware of it because I was the author of a statistical analysis model that could accurately validate the algorithms of other statistical models. I created my model when I was working for NRL (and later, refined it while working for DARPA) and used it for validating the modeling of new weapons systems in a simulated operational environment. My model was created to be adaptable to stress other models and NASA knew if it passed my analysis, then they had a good algorithm. As a result of my involvement, I had full access to their model and tons of reports and prior studies it was used on. The following is one of the more shocking discoveries I made.
First let me say that after running literally millions of Monte Carlo runs on the NASA model, I validated it to be accurate in its computations. I found that since 2008, its accuracy has increased 800 fold due mostly to an increase in the processing power of the computers it is running on – a Cray XT5 (Jaguar) now. It uses a self-correction subroutine that validates its analysis every few seconds after each 200,000 quadrillion calculations.
I do not and did not know exactly what the algorithms were that it used but for my analysis of their model, I did not have to know that. I you ask a black box what 2 times 2 is and it gives you an answer of 4, it makes no difference if there are 5,000 computers or 200 monkeys in the box. If you ask it 600 million such questions and it gets them all right, you can validate its ability to calculate accurately.
I found that the very existence of this model is a huge secret even from Congress. The operators and users are screened and watched every day by the Secret Service so they do not abuse the model. In one document, I discovered that they had named the model “Agora” which in Greek means “a place of assembly and reason” and it was where the famous Greek thinkers (Socrates, Plato and Aristotle) met and thought about things.
I read some of the actual R&D that was performed with Agora since 2008 and found them all to be fascinating but I was allowed into one vault that had numerous bright orange folders marked “NFPR” and “TOP SECRET” and “EXEMPT FIA”. I had to ask and was told that NFPR was NOT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE and I was told that meant “forever”. The FIA was for the Freedom of Information Act and these reports were all exempt from every being obtained using the FIA. This got me very curious so I of course had to read these reports under the excuse that I needed the details to validate my model analysis.
These NFPR reports were all about the same R&D project which was code named “ANT KA” and was shortened to ANTKA which is the Hindi word for TERMINAL. The meaning of that name was not apparent until I had read most of the report and then it was ominous.
ANTKA began with a simple question. “Why have we not been able to detect any signals from any other planets?” It spent many pages showing that with our current detection capability, we should be able to obtain some portions of some elements of the electromagnetic spectrum from other intelligent life. I was astonished that it said that we could do this from as far away as 2.5 million light years. That is a really long distance and it reaches out to just over half of all the galaxies in what is called the Local Group and it is estimated that it includes about 1.25 trillion stars. No one knows how many planets are in that space but if we use Frank Drakes formula and use very conservative values for the unknowns, we come up with about 280 million planets with life and about 3 million with intelligent life that is capable of sending us a message using some aspect of the electro-magnetic spectrum that we are capable of receiving. This sounds like a lot but Agora validated the estimate with millions of runs of Monte Carlo simulations of all the different kinds of stars and systems in the Local Group.
Having established that there should be signals out there but we are not receiving any, the ANTKA study began trying to determine what was wrong with their reasoning. Several volumes are filled with various ideas that were tried, analyzed and then discarded as not accounting what is being observed. Finally, they began looking at the Drake model itself. If it was wrong, then perhaps the number of viable planets with life is much smaller. It was at this point that the Agora model was tuned onto the future actions of society, technology and the psychology of the evolving brain. They built dozens of model variants to examine all aspects of society and technology and slowly began to narrow their analysis onto the issue of how fast the society and technology matures toward the threshold that would allow interplanetary communication to take place. It was here that the analysis got really scary.
The analysts created models that simulated the growth of society and its technology at a pace that has been verified by countless studies as being an accurate representation of what humans on this planet have exhibited since life first began. The model included the simulation of such aspects as the diversity of cultures, religions and languages as well as the maturity of social norms and morals. It accurately modeled this development from our earliest forms of social civilization up to modern times and then it projected it beyond the present into our future.
After doing that, it created a parallel model that mapped out development of technology over time as our brains and our society developed. This model also included technology in all its forms as it would affect building shelter, food development, transportation, weapons and leisure activities. This model also accurately modeled technology development from our earliest stone tools up to modern machines and digital systems in our present times and then it projected it beyond the present into our future. When the two models were joined and the outcome combined as a common destiny, the result was shocking.
What the combined model predicted was that our ability to create very advanced weapons far exceeded our moral or social ability to safely manage those weapons. The result was that the model predicted that the society would self destruct at a point that is just about where we are today. In other words, it said that we are incapable of making safe decisions related to the use of the powerful weapons that we are capable of creating an we are now at the exact point in the model in which these models predict that we will self-destruct.
The analysts ran a Monte Carlo simulation allowing multiple variables to be flexed by a wide margin and the results always ended the same with the destruction of the modeled society. The Agora model was setup to run 100s of millions of the Monte Carlo simulations and the usual bell curve was created but with such sharp and steep curves that it virtually proved that except for impossible values of some of the major variables (population growth, education levels, financial markets, etc), we are destined to self destruct because we dont know how to deal with our own technology.
Among the many scenarios, the actual source or cause of our demise changed from bombs to disease to starvation and others but it always happened. Speeding up or slowing down one part of the model or the other only delayed or accelerated the end result. They also tried to imagine what might change in an alien society but they soon discovered that if you create any life form that is capable of any given technology, that same life form is incapable of safely managing it. When the technology reaches the point that it is capable of destroying large portions of the society, then the society dies and it makes no difference what the technology is or what the form of life is that created the technology. Essentially the model proved something that social psychologists have known for years the portion of the brain that creates new ideas develops well in advance of the portion of the brain that makes moral judgments and tempers the aggressive responses of other parts of the brain. It seems that this is simply a fact of life in all forms its just that we are the first species that has gotten to the point of being able to destroy ourselves.
The ANTKA analysts concluded that the reason we have not received any messages from other planets is because no other life on any other planets have survived long enough to create those messages for any appreciable portion of their existence.
The analysts went on to point out that if this report were to be made public, it would create mass panic and social unrest and could even precipitate the exact destruction that their models predict. They backed up their conclusions with the results of thousands of simulations that they said not only validate their conclusion but makes it virtually inevitable and imminent.
There was one dissenting vote by one of the analysts. He wrote that humans were more resilient than the model predicted and that if they knew the results of their research and modeling, they would respond by changing their behavior and avoiding the predicted self-destruction. He noted that this very scenario was modeled and still resulted in an end of society but he was not convinced even though he also concluded that the model was validated and accurate.
As the author of this expose, I agree with this one dissenting analyst. I think he was right. I think this and have acted on this belief for one simple reason that I think justifies breaking all the security and secrecy barriers involved. That reason is that .we have no other alternative. If I am wrong, we all die. If I am right, we all live. What would you do?