Science fiction relies heavily on other life forms. Without them, there would be few stories worth telling. In the main, alien life forms speak American English and fall into two camps - nice and nasty. They're either after our blood for entertainment, food, or territorial gain, or they're ambivalent, peace-driven and self-contained. Nasty ones can be terribly advanced technologically, but they've generally stolen everything they have from other civilisations and don't have much going for them in the way of intellect.
Here the cast of Star Trek have discovered that Twitter is a life form in its own right. I'm pleased to confirm it to be a pleasing companion with a decent level of intellect and a dandy sense of humour.
Seriously though, what is 'advanced'? Science claims future-borne time waves to be 'advanced'. Science fiction points us firmly in the same direction. Life which has time to evolve beyond warmongering, waste, wanton destruction and wardrobe fetish generally qualifies. Telepathic communication is a common denominator. Ability to interact with the environment empathically and to use resources (including quantum resources) wisely without turning in on themselves is essential for a higher form of life. A strong sense of self-belief and a determination to promote positive ethics are also indicative of advancement.
Whatever the truth about aliens in relation to this planet (I guess speculation will continue for some time) we have surely to consider whether we qualify as Advanced, or whether like the Goa'uld we are simply buying into our own self-made publicity. It's easy to think you're more advanced than another life form when you can apparently do more things, have more ideas, create more inventions, destroy more easily. The Nox would tell us that these things are only useful when you have a deep understanding of your place in the greater scheme and a sense of reverence for your own fragility.
We as life forms are probably teetering on the brink of being lost without trace in a cosmos which doesn't care whether or not we survive, or ascending to a state of being which does understand its place in the scheme of things and is prepared to make changes to save itself from self-destruct.
So where are we now? Advanced or understudied? We might have a lot more to learn about ourselves before we can fruitfully make changes of significance. We have to stop feeding ourselves into morbidity and wean ourselves off the constant supply of purchases thrust at us in pursuit of the false god Money. Money rhymes with Honey - in this land of milk and money we are doomed to continue stripping our planet and recklessly careering over the precipice of social putrefaction.
We're not going to be much good to anyone if we do that. And having scuppered our chances of evolution, we certainly won't be able to count ourselves as Advanced.
Kathy is the author of Quantumology. She met quantum mechanics in 1997 and pledged allegiance to its sources thereafter. These are her personal thoughts and testimonies. For professional testimonials please see Programmes.