It is downright impossible to develop Artif. Intelligence because there is no definition of what *intelligence* actually is. We all know (or assume to know) what is being associated with it but then, things that look intelligent in a specific situation might be downright dumb in another situation or when viewed under another perspective.
For example I could argue that mice are more intelligent than humans because female mice loose their ability to reproduce when too much social stress is happening to them (eg. populated in a locked corn silo in winter --> keep population stable to not drain food too much + produce too much waste) while they can give way to an enormous, explosive increase in population if a suitable situation is present (enough food and grown up offspring can find other territory).
Now what has that to do with it? Well, Stephen Hawkings wrote in his bestseller that if the rate of human reproduction goes on just like in the past 200 years, then by 2600 the whole earth will be crowded with so many people no one will be able to walk, all land masses will be filled up with us, and we will be forced to sleep vertically. At that time most greater lifeforms and plants will be eradicated from earth's soil, and I doubt if our atmosphere will be able to sustain us any longer. Overpopulation is one -if not- the biggest current problem because most other human problems directly scale with it or get multiplied by it.
So I ask you directly: Why not stop RIGHT NOW? What's the point in having billions after billions of humans here? And adding more and more and more and more..... Is it necessary? For what?
Of course there are a lot of different arguments or insights here, from political, economical or individual standpoints. More humans equates more power. More money. Capitalism wants to ever grow. Having children is part of our sense in life, we want to live on through them. Maybe in an idealistic future (like in Star Trek) technology will solve all our problems automatically so let's simply do what we want and ignore the consequences of what we do. (note: I advocate none of these stuff, but it's how alot of people think or systems work)
If you look deeper behind the motivational or underlying reasons of why this is so, you'll come to realize humans (such as all life) are born with "sinister" or egoistic characterial traits, mechanics that enable a struggle for power which can be directly translated into selective evolution itself.
That is why your idealistic "why not simply lead a non-destructive life" will never work for us.
Why do we cut down the rainforrest? Because of greed and corruption. Big multinational corporations bribe to do so, and the money involved is enormous. They gain and prosper through it. If some of these firms would develop a moral mind and simply shun away from these methods, well there's just their concurrence in the foot-steps who will do so - and then they are going to prosper. And the morally just are weakened, and will be eaten by the greed. Although humans don't develop in a biological evolutionairy sense, we still have a lot of evolutionairy mechanics in our systems present.
Why is it that capitlism propagates that economy should ever grow? Why not have it constant and keep it human population also constant and into balance with our surrounding. That's because greedy systems who grow - grow in power and therefore swallow non-growing systems.
Stephen Hawkins proposed to shut down the SETI Project because he is of the opinion that finding another sentient species will automatically lead to war. For the same reasons we go to war with other humans: Because we want something from them, and we don't get it without force. If we can do it versus our own kind with alot of empathical mind-factors in place (that first have to be overcome), it will be very easy versus aliens which don't look like us, feel like us, are like us... juts like -legally- cattle is just *things* (for our meat industry), not living beings who feel (in this case, pain, sorrow, a life of endless general frustration) and we still it (red) meat although it is scientifically corroborated that dying from heart attack/ gut cancer/ head strike is increased by 400-500% in comparison to vegetarians.
It is also totally inefficient to feed cattle with soja to get meat, 90% of the nutritive energy will be wasted by the cow through heat emission. Why not eat the soja directly esp. that it is more healthy than meat? Well, one day we'll be forced to (when population grows on like this.)
Maybe mice are also more intelligent here because they even go so far as to eat their own feces - as it contains a vitamin that is produced by bacterias living in the guts of the mice, and this vitamin is usually sparse in winter. Now I think we can all agree that mice don't know what bacteria, vitamins etc are - their intelligent behaviour is the product of a selective evolutionairy process - mice that aren't coprophagists simply die in winter more fast.
Hawkins also names one of the reasons why we have not yet encountered alien signals because life that develops space technology (ie. is intelligent) *could* harbour an underlying mechanic to annihilate itself. Which is something unique to biological evolution itself (although there might be a sole exception in the very early microbiotic evolution).
Although it is the only way to go if something wants to survive in long terms - no life will survive our sun going nova in 5 billion years. Although we'll have to go much farther than just another systems, because at that time, our neighbour the huge Andromeda galaxy will collide with the milky way and than this region of space will be very unhabitable to organic lifeforms (radition emited from Seyfert galaxies) as well as gravitation disruption will cause asteroids to scorch all breathable atmosphere....
Maybe ElanaAhova has a point. An artificial lifeform that is intelligent, sentient and is able to survive in space could be our only heritage.