Friday, May 07, 2010

Should We Fear Aliens or Not?

Stephen Hawking's comment that we should fear extraterrestial aliens has gotten a lot of attention in the last few days.

[First aside: I just watched this series' exposition on the Big Bang, and it was excellent, especially with a level of graphics I've never seen elsewhere. I recommend it.]
"If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans," he said.
I suspect Hawking is almost certainly right. Because, if said aliens are "moral" or if they are not, both positions have important consequences.

If they are "moral" like we (humans) think we are moral, then heaven help us. Despite any big talk, the brutal fact is that we humans have no empathy for any species other than ourselves. (Gary Francoine excepted.) Humans will kill anything -- including other humans -- it if serves their immediate needs. 

Hell, we won't even save our own genetic progeny. How fucked up is a species that won't even save itself?

Very fucked up.

If the aliens are advanced enough to demonstrate some true morality and respect for life, then they will either come here and look upon us as essentially worms (in which case we're toast) or will just leave us alone and never come here at all (the "Prime Directive") point of view. In which case we have no idea any aliens are out there anyway.

The chances that they come here with about the same level of morality we have are slim, since we can't get anywhere else right now and frankly it's not clear that we're going to last another 100-200 yrs.

1 comment:

Cthulhu said...

Speculation is fun.

I think any advanced intelligence worth it's salt will be able to deduce our presence by observing the changes we've made to atmospheric composition. CFCs are the kicker. So it's probably not just radio emissions that could give us away.

On that note though I think the idea that we are going to "reveal" our presence to aliens with radio waves wrongly presumes that aliens are quite stupid.

Our planet has been emitting light from our atmosphere for billions of years. I would think an advanced intelligence would have the technology to observe the composition of our atmosphere from a great distance. Even if they observed it as it was 1 million years ago, they would have seen our planet was probably life bearing and that potentially intelligent life could emerge.

If they were at all interested in interfering they would have turned up ready for us. They wouldn't have needed to wait for our radio signals to reach them.

So imho they are either watching us and staying quiet, are not interested, or they aren't there.

Speculation is fun