Now, project our technology forward by a million years, or dare I say a billion? If we continue to advance technologically,there will be newer and newer levels of technology. Considering how our communication devices are getting smaller and the predictions that they could eventually be implanted. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that we would appear as magicians or gods even to the people from 200 years ago, when scientists were starting to recognize electromagnetism.

Whereas the Drake Equation predicts that millions of ET civilizations should have emerged just within our own galaxy, the possibility of having such a civilization nearby depend on the most uncertain factor of all — what Drake calls L, the longevity factor. We simply have no idea how long the typical technological civilization should endure. Will we last just another few decades and then destroy ourselves? Will we go on for millions of years, getting increasingly advanced? Or will it be something in between? Maybe we’ll lose our technology and go into a dark age, then start over. The bottom line though is that the chances of encountering another civilization depend on the L factor. This means that we can call a neighboring civilization “a little bit ahead of us” technologically, if they are ahead of us by, say 10,000 years.