04:16 GMT22 January 2021
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    Humanity has long been captivated by the idea of finding intelligent life beyond Earth but hasn’t heard from aliens yet, unless one counts UFO claims and conspiracy theories.

    Britain’s former intelligence chief believes that aliens do exist because humans just cannot be a unique species.

    Sir Robert John Sawers, the former head of Britain’s MI6 spy agency, told the Daily Star that given the infinite size of the universe, “it would be extraordinary” if the planet Earth was “unique.”

    “I think we should go forward on the assumption that nothing on this planet is unique,” said Sawers, who also represented Britain in the United Nations.

    He did not specify whether he was referring to alien life in general or intelligent life in particular – but said the discovery of either would be a breath-taking experience.

    One of the world’s brightest minds, Stephen Hawking once called the search for extra-terrestrial life “the most exciting quest in 21st-century science”.

    The late scientist had taken up the quest himself and was leading Breakthrough Listen initiative, a large-scale project searching for evidence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

    Since 2015, the $100-million programme has surveyed over 1,300 stars within relative proximity from Earth using radio and optical telescopes, but found no evidence of artificial signals from beyond Earth. They are now moving ahead with plans to conduct a radio survey of one million additional nearby stars.

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