Sometimes simple distance can be expected to never ever reveal the information contained within it. The unknown information might be physically close, but we have no way of traveling to it, and sometimes it might be far away, like distant galaxies, and we might be unable to learn any intelligent thought possessed by those beings so the only knowledge we have is that galaxies are there. The universe appears to have matter as we understand it distributed smoothly throughout; it is a bit clumpy, and formed into clusters of galaxies which are concentrated, and some of its matter compressed into stars, planets and black holes. But all of these clumps of matter are understood to obey the same physical laws as our local universe, galaxy, star, planets and atoms.
Those distant galaxies were created at the same time as us 13.8 billion years ago, and the universe has expanded in every direction away from us, and is now 46 billion light years in radius; the universe is big and the visible Universe is estimated to contain 200 billion galaxies. Combine that huge number of galaxies with the fact that our star, the Sun, is but one of many billions of stars in our galaxy. “The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy some 100,000–120,000 light-years in diameter which contains 100–400 billion stars. It may contain at least as many planets as well.” All of this time, space and matter may be different in detail in its arrangement, but it is all comprehensible and obeys the same laws everywhere. So, it seems reasonable to assume there are large numbers of planets similar to our Earth circling stars similar to our Sun.
If the closest star to our Earth, other than the Sun, had a planet and civilization identical to ours, we could communicate with them by radio, but it would take at least eight years for a radio message we send to be responded to with a radio message from them. We have been listening for signals, but after careful observation it appears there are no radio-emitting planets within a hundred light years of Earth, and if those distant civilizations were just now responding to our first radio broadcast, it would be another hundred years before we got a message from them. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is much bigger; it is 100,000 light years across, and we would be forced to wait 200,000 years to get a message back from the other side, and that is twice the age of our human species.
Possibly, there is a much closer and older civilization than the distant edge, that has received messages transmitted across our galaxy, and that closer civilization has already sent messages towards us. So there is a possibility that many others have achieved radio technology, and have rebroadcast what these previous intelligent beings from throughout the Milky Way have discovered, and what everyone in between has found. But this is going to be one-way information, coming from them to us, for a long time. There is the possibility that they have already sent us the information needed on how to manufacture a machine for manufacturing living cells, and once those are made viable, they can send us information on how to make intelligent beings.
There may already exist a Milky Way Federation made of beings sent throughout the galaxy in the form of radio waves of information. There are about 200 billion stars in our Milky Way, and it is now known that a high percentage of stars have planets, and it seems likely that a percent or so might have a rocky planet in the Goldilocks zone, and that would mean a billion potential living planets in our galaxy. If all of these were to have a radio technology there would already exist an intelligent community of extraterrestrials beaming their wisdom toward us. It would seem reasonable those beings’ first priority would be suggesting to us what we must do to prevent self-destruction of our civilization and planet. That advice would be based on their experience. The time required for this Milky Way intelligent community to form would be approaching 100,000 years. It seems like a long time, but this is a very large community, and may have existed for a billion years. But even with so long a time it may have been difficult to physically move anything living from one star system to another. And why bother, when it can be done at the speed of light.
What has been outlined so far is within the realm of the knowable unknown federation already existing within our galaxy. It would take a long time to form, but it could become known to present humans at any moment if it exists, and if those aliens chose to send us messages. To continue this thought, there could still an unknowable unknowns, and that would be any intelligence located outside of our galaxy. It is billions of times more likely that intelligence would exist in the other galaxies than in our single one. There is the remote possibility that our Milky Way Federation has contacted the closer galaxies, and they in turn have already contacted more distant ones, and if they had they would communicate that additional wisdom to us. This is a remoteness of contacting our local community compounded with the remoteness of them having contacted the next galaxy, and the additional remoteness of them having contacted the more distant ones.
Our joining the Universal Federation of Intelligent Beings (UFIB) all begins with our making contact with our local community. Without that contact we will never know if we are the sole intelligence in the universe. The benefits of universal wisdom obtained from contact would greatly increase the likelihood of our own well-being and humanity’s survival.
When the benefit of contact is humanity’s survival, the effort to make contact with UFIB becomes infinitely important.