There are several toy level (and a number of research level) programs that parallel the development on this planet and use it as inputs to see what could happen if certain conditions change through history.
All of these runs require some rather simple changes in the earths (or any planets) initial environments to promote the development of a loooong period of single to multicell life. Whats kind of neat is that The occurrence of a Cambrian Explosion is almost a chemical "given" as free Carbonate and a buffered saline environment occur.
These chemical conditions are apparently driven to occur as long as the planet has a molten and multi-layer mantle (so that continents can drift about and erode salts) and the planet contains free water. It concludes that a Cambrian Explosion style of a blooming life is sorta inevitable (based upon the inputs on the models).
AFTER a Cambrian Explosion however, its a Chinese fire drill. In most all cases, life adapted to an environment and there was no innate driving of life to become "clever". So, using biological expansions, the chances of developing a big brained pinnacle species who controls his environment is about 99% staked against.
Interesting. An endless series of worlds where Anomalocaris is the most advanced form of life that will evolve.
I've heard it suggested that our moon might be a factor in the rarity of advanced life. Most planets only have moons that are much smaller relative to the size of the planet, and thus do not have significant tides. If earth-like tides are necessary for any step towards advanced life, that step would only occur on planets that happen to have a comparatively-large moon.
I think we will ultimately extend our influence to a couple of lightyears out there. So all these things will be be made obvious to us. I just wish I could live longer and see it happen.
I think we'll populate the entire galaxy.
I doubt the speed of light can be broken, but approaching the speed of light will cause time dilation and make the journey bearable for colonists (who will definitely be going on a one-way trip).
Did you accidentally delete most of a paragraph?