What if we weren’t alone in the universe, despite the Fermi paradox? What if “guests” from distant worlds were flying towards us? Such an event will amount to the birth of a new world religion – all others will lose some of their power.
We are not alone. We will have to live with this fact. What will be the consequences of successful contact with extraterrestrial life?
If you watched the 1951 sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still, you’ll remember the scene where the flying saucer lands in Washington DC and the alien Klaatu emerges.
In his hand he holds something that looks like an earth weapon. After soldiers shoot Klaatu, a robot emerges from the UFO, easily deals with the soldiers, and turns the tank into scrap metal. Klaatu, injured, stands up to show that he had in his hand a miniature telescope, capable of seeing farther into space than terrestrial observatories.
“It was a gift. For your president. (He looks sadly at the broken object.) With it, he could have observed life on other planets,” the alien says.
Alright, it’s just a movie. The paradox is that this scene could very well be real if we come into contact with extraterrestrials, who are probably much more advanced than us. We fear aliens, rightly believing that they can conquer us or destroy us completely. To a lesser extent, we think they are friendly and just want to share their knowledge with us.
Many scientists, however, think it’s absurd that super-evolved aliens are conquering us. It is unlikely that such a civilization would want to visit or conquer us, like in the movie “Independence Day”, where such a civilization spreads through the galaxy like locusts, taking over planets one after the other. others and draining their resources until they dry up.
In fact, there are countless dead planets in space that have the richest reserves of mineral resources, and it is possible to collect them freely without worrying about the stubbornness of the local people.
The attitude of such a civilization towards us could be compared to our attitude towards ants and an anthill. After all, we’re not going to lean into an anthill and offer beads and other trinkets to its inhabitants; on the contrary, we simply ignore them.
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Contact with friendly aliens
If the extraterrestrials are more advanced than us and if they are willing to help us, they will open up many possibilities for our civilization. They could teach us mathematics and other sciences, provide solutions to insoluble problems like hunger, poverty, disease, etc.
Although this option may seem like wishful thinking, it fits well with one of the explanations of the Fermi Paradox. In other words, if technologically advanced extraterrestrials exist, then where are they, why haven’t they colonized Earth yet?
One of the explanations implies that while exponential growth is in the nature of all intelligent beings, it can also result in the destruction of species, for example during man-made disasters. Conversely, if sentient beings existed long enough to survive us, they would surely understand something about resilient ecosystems.
They are unlikely to colonize our planet in search of resources, as this could lead to the extinction of our species. If people were a little smarter, they would also turn their gaze to nature, which is perishing and suffocating.
But we have not yet reached that level of development, although we are getting close. Aliens of this level can visit us, if only out of curiosity, but not to destroy us. And if they don’t want to set up their colonies here or drive us off the planet, they most likely will have to help us.
There are several areas of our development that can significantly advance as a result of contact with an extraterrestrial civilization:
1. Travel over long distances. It is assumed that the extraterrestrials who will visit our planet will arrive from nowhere, overcoming a huge distance. The nearest potentially habitable planet is at least 13 light years away.
It can be assumed that the aliens will use technologies similar to the warp engine predicted by Miguel Alcubierre and being developed in the NASA laboratory, or something else beyond human imagination. Aliens may also have anti-gravity technology, if it is believed that flying saucers can perform impossible aerobatics (let’s not forget that their existence is not proven). Of course, extraterrestrial hosts will be happy to share new technologies with us.
2. Improve our biology. People are slowly getting used to the ideas of transhumanism – they are developing exoskeletons and electronic devices like implantable microchips that improve vision. But if a sentient alien species surpasses us even by a few thousand years, it could very well become an entirely postbiological being whose brain is a fusion of natural and artificial intelligence.
They might not even need bodies – they live in machines of their own design (hopefully they don’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “terminator” – that would be too weird). This was stated in 2006 by the same NASA scientist, Stephen Dick. We could make a qualitative transition to the future with the help of transhumanist extraterrestrials. Or enter into a symbiosis with them.
3. Heal the environment. It’s likely that extraterrestrials with a much more advanced civilization have mastered planetary engineering – the ability to make significant and particular changes to the environment. They could help us plug the holes in our atmosphere and reverse the devastating process of climate change.
The closest intelligent life to us may be thousands of light years away, but extraterrestrials with a structure similar to ours most likely went through the same stages of development as us at some point. . And presumably they transitioned to a low-carbon economy before their biosphere collapsed.
Astronomers Adam Frank and Woodruff Sullivan believe that when it comes to the crises of the 21st century – global warming, ocean acidification, the sixth mass extinction – the answer to these questions may well lie in space. Most likely, this has already happened there more than once. We may not be the first sentient species to strike a balance between stability and self-destruction.
4. Conflict resolution. International conflicts claim far fewer victims than in the past – each year until 2010, around 55,000 people died as a result of wars. That’s a third of the accidental deaths of the 1980s.
But people still want to kill each other: according to various estimates and according to the UN, in 2011, 468,000 murders were committed worldwide. If a sentient alien species lives longer than us, they must have created deadly technology at least as powerful as ours, or built a Death Star that earthlings don’t have enough money for.
However, the development of civilization should have led to the settlement of conflicts without recourse to violence. We could ask them to share this method with us, or to make us stop killing our fellow human beings.
Remarkably, many theorists of extraterrestrial life agree on one point: if there is a coalition of intelligent extraterrestrials of different races in space, this coalition, for its harmonious existence, accepts civilizations that have reached a certain level of technical development, understanding of the world and, above all, who have stopped turf wars. What we don’t see in the near future.
Contact with malevolent extraterrestrials
Clearly, the odds that whatever intelligent life we manage to contact will turn out to be cute and fluffy are slim. Many scientists – including Stephen Hawking – believe that trying to yell at a stranger on the other side of the galaxy is tantamount to drawing danger upon oneself.
Indeed, how can one naively try to believe that extraterrestrials will find a common language with a species as useless as ours, which has not solved the problems of wars, diseases, aging, murders between us and animals, only concerned with their own skin and money. Selfishness is perhaps a universal phenomenon. But let’s say we were unlucky and ran into the filthy, vile zerg who want to wipe our kind off the face of the earth.
The following development options are:
1. Aliens attempt to colonize or destroy us, but we successfully defend ourselves.
This option is perhaps the most popular. Of all the books, films, comics that have depicted this “war of the worlds”, we have always emerged victorious, thanks to our flexible mind or a stroke of luck.
Aliens may not be ready for microbial life, which is present everywhere on Earth (and it is unclear who is the true owner of Earth, us or the microbes), lives with us in symbiosis and can defend itself . In this case, we will win above all a moral victory. However, if there is anything left of their war technology, we could benefit from unscrewing and carefully studying their tools of death.
2 They Will Kill Us With An Alien Virus
Although we most often think of extraterrestrials who deliberately want to destroy humanity, it is possible that they harm us quite by accident, bringing to our planet unknown diseases against which our immunity has nothing. could do.
Similarly, they can destroy our ecosystem by bringing with them aggressive species of various sizes, sometimes invisible, or destabilize our society by giving us advanced technologies for which we are simply not ready.
3. Aliens like us, only worse
It is possible that at some point in the evolution of species, they become more moral and less selfish. But if that happens, we don’t know yet. It is probable that selfishness is inherent in all rational beings. Geographer Jared Diamond believes that the optimistic scenario of contact with extraterrestrial civilizations is unlikely:
“Astronomers and others are hoping extraterrestrials, fascinated by our intelligence, will strike up a small conversation with us. Maybe the astronomers are right and that would be the best case scenario.
“But it will be much worse if the extraterrestrials behave like any intelligent species does, discovering an unknown life form on earth, from an alien to a chimpanzee or a gorilla.
” What do we do ? It’s true, just like us, aliens can try to kill us, infect us, divide us, conquer us, hunt us, enslave us, cram us into museums and marinate our skulls for their medical research. My opinion is that astronomers who are going to send radio signals to extraterrestrials are acting naively and dangerously.
Some astronomers admit that aliens can be friendly, but the chances of us being eaten, sent to a space circus, forced to fight each other, are much higher. Is the game worth the candle?
4. They will destroy us by accident
This scenario assumes that extraterrestrials will have universalist ethics or certain principles that have intrinsic value in themselves and are independent of whether or not they are beneficial to particular species (humans generally do not fall into this category).
We associate universalism with free and peaceful beings, since they have no reason to harm us just because we are “different.” Nevertheless, the danger and intentions of extraterrestrials will be entirely determined by their value system. You may be familiar with The Galactic Backpacker’s Guide, in which aliens attempt to destroy Earth simply because it’s on a hyperspace transition trajectory.
5 They will destroy us because they think we are terrible.
Whether it thinks we threaten its species or not, a universalist-minded extraterrestrial intelligence could destroy us because we could be a danger to other civilizations. We have a tendency to step on any civilization that is less technologically advanced than our own, and this tendency can lead to disruption of the universal ecosystem.
Until we learn how to behave, we have no business being in the galactic community. The best option, in my opinion, would be to sit quietly and listen to the silence of space in hopes of hearing or seeing traces of other animated worlds. And, of course, you have to solve domestic problems.