Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 June 2020
The Drake equation has been used many times to estimate the number of observable civilizations in the galaxy. However, the uncertainty of the outcome is so great that any individual result is of limited use, as predictions can range from a handful of observable civilizations in the observable universe to tens of millions per Milky Way-sized galaxy. A statistical investigation shows that the Drake equation, despite its uncertainties, delivers robust predictions of the likelihood that the prevalent form of intelligence in the universe is artificial rather than biological. The likelihood of artificial intelligence far exceeds the likelihood of biological intelligence in all cases investigated. This conclusion is contingent upon a limited number of plausible assumptions. The significance of this outcome for the Fermi paradox is discussed.