Ahaan Chakrabarty, Year 11, Utahloy International School Guangzhou, China presenting to a local audience at TEDxYouth@UISG, an independent event, April 2021
Giving a TED talk had always been a dream of mine. So, when the opportunity presented itself at the beginning of the year, I ensured I was the first to sign up, thereby starting a process of self-discovery. I knew there were so many paths I could explore in my talk, something I mentioned in my presentation. However, having grown up watching science fiction movies like Star Wars, Avengers, and TV shows like Star Trek and The Big Bang Theory, I felt strongly inclined and interested to pursue a science-related topic. The topic that fascinated me and linked well with this year’s TEDx event theme “What If?”, was the existence of the Great Filter. Here is the link to my TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/ahaan_chakrabarty_the_path_to_the_future.
The Great Filter theory is a possible solution to The Fermi’s Paradox. “The Fermi Paradox is the term used to describe the lack of evidence for extraterrestrial life in the face of a universe that should be, by the numbers, bursting with it” (astronomy.com). The Great Filter theory suggests we haven’t discovered extraterrestrial life because there exists a supernatural or scientific barrier that regulates our perception of the universe, possibly restricting humans from their true potential. It answers some quintessential questions like; “Why can’t we see aliens?” “How are there no other forms of life we have found?” “Are we all alone?” Complicated questions, yes, but the proposition of the Great Filter certainly answers them all.
So, in my TED talk, I presented the audience with three possible interpretations of the existence of The Great Filter:
Number 1: We have passed the Great Filter. This means we have lost the opportunity in time and space to meet other civilizations as we are more advanced than any civilization in this universe. Humans are a highly advanced species, and with the various technologies available at our disposal, the rest of the universe is forced to play catch-up. We have already sent a man to the moon, and interspace travel could be the final condition to cross to the other side. We are destined to meet no one other than ourselves as we are lightyears ahead of other extraterrestrial life.
Number 2: We are light years away from the Great Filter. We are not civilized enough to have crossed the Great Filter; hence we are way behind in the race of meeting up with other civilizations. This is evident as we are still dealing with primal issues like war, hunger, and poverty. Unsolved personal and global conflicts will keep us far from the filter. The way the world handled COVID might be a better indicator of us being uncivilized and not yet ready to meet advanced species.
Number 3: We are not on either side of this Great Filter. We’re simply passing through the Great Filter, trying desperately to discover extraterrestrial life while killing millions of intraterrestrial life. We need to save life on Earth before trying to find life outside of it. We will be stuck in the Great Filter forever if we keep looking for a planet B while completely disregarding planet A, which is our home, our Earth, our Universe. This is the most dangerous situation as this means we will never discover extraterrestrial life as we will never advance past the Great Filter, or no one will find us as we will perish being stuck in the Great Filter.
The roadblocks we run into are the universe’s way of testing whether we are ready for the “next stage.” Our perilous effort of self-destruction is visible everywhere, wars, global warming, genocide, religious fanatism, and above all discrimination will always remain roadblocks in the path to the future. We might send probes and shuttles to space and colonize planets, but we will never be civilized if we do not get rid of the issues that exist on Earth. This must be the reason why no other civilization wants to connect; they must have crossed these above roadblocks to secure a path to the future. We are not yet ready for it, as for every two steps forward we take one step back. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
It’s easy to believe we’ll never be close to the Great Filter, or that we’ve left it far behind, or that it doesn’t exist at all. But I’m here to present with you the facts and urge you to make a change and act. We won’t teleport across the barrier if everyone stops using plastic straws for example, but it is a start. And once you take off from the starting point, you’re always bound to cross the finish line.
Ahaan Chakrabarty is an all-rounder; an athlete, an artist, and an academic, there is no domain this Grade 10 maestro hasn't conquered. Born in India, and raised in Africa, Ahaan spent his formative years in the hills of Kampala and the sunny beaches of Dar es Salaam. His journey has now brought him to China. He speaks five languages, performs at concerts, is part of three sports teams, and is ambitious to add more accolades to his name. Academic and athletic, Ahaan is fascinated by scientific theories that question the limits of our universe which will unravel its mysteries.