For the past five years, Sam Archer’s job as a middle-aged computer programmer for the "Society to Protect Humanity" was to use rented time at the largest computer in the world to answer questions. Mainly, his job was to ask the AI running on the massively parallel computer, "How do we protect humanity’s survival far into the future?"
He fed it petabytes of data - about history, physics, politics, chemistry... - and trained his state-of-the-art artificial intelligence algorithms to prepare it for answering the question.
Lately he had unintentionally become something of a celebrity for his work. At first it was nice, but it started to get stressful when people started questioning his methods.
"Are you sure you did it right?" his boss kept asking.
"Yes, I’m sure," he would respond. He wanted to say, "Do you want to do it yourself?" but he also wanted to keep his job.
They hired in two more programmers to help with the effort, one from academia with twenty years of experience in artificial intelligence research, and one with ten years of professional experience. Sam felt so insulted he considered changing careers.
He had done everything right and when the answer was the same after six months of tweaking, he felt vindicated.
No matter how they tweaked the computers or how they reworded the question, the answer was always the same. In addition to all the obvious suggestions: spread out humanity to different planets, look out for asteroids, leave before the sun explodes, and so on, there was one unexpected answer.
It went something like this, "There are two possibilities, either we are alone in the universe or we are not. The vastness of the universe alone suggests that we are not. If we are not alone then why is the universe so silent? Certainly life had not just extinguished itself every time. If just one civilization survived to become a star-faring one, then we should see the results somewhere in the stars. The fact that we have not leads to one probable conclusion: the ones that survived are hiding. They are most likely hiding from an existential threat, an apex predator so to speak. If we not alone, then just the possibility of such a predator would suggest you should hide if you want your civilization to survive - if you do not want to go extinct.
Does the predator exist? Unknown. If it does exist, what is its motivation? Also, unknown. It does not matter. However, with the age of the universe being what it is, the predator might exist. The only way to really find out would probably cause your extinction. Therefore, you must hide. You must leave your home planet and cause it to go dead. You must hide your star-ships from detection as much as possible. You must find a new world and go underground or undersea, hiding your existence in the noise and have the outward appearance of death.
This is the only way to insure humanity’s or any species’ survival."