[____] Even if we found ETs, we would not be able to communicate with them because our backgrounds would be so different.
Albert Harrison and Steven Dick, Professor of Social Psychology at the University of California, Davis, and Chief Historian of NASA, 2000, “When SETI Succeeds: The Impact of High-Information Contact”, www.futurefoundation.org/documents/hum_pro_wrk1.pdf
Or, we could discover an alien probe or artifact that we could not understand. Maybe we will intercept a communication that has high information content but that is indecipherable to us. Given that our two civilizations may be separated by millions of years of evolution, translation and interpretation could be very difficult. Perhaps whole careers and institutes will be devoted to these processes, but with very little progress and very little impact on our descendants’ daily lives. How well could we communicate with humanity of the year 3000, much less with even more advanced beings from entirely different genetic and cultural backgrounds? There may be ethical as well as linguistic barriers to communication. Among the many reasons listed for our current “absence of evidence” are that ETI civilizations consider it unethical to alter the course of a developing civilization, or consider it desirable to preserve some civilizations for future study (Ball, 1973). Our ability to learn from ETI may depend on their perception of our readiness to acquire advanced information or to meet entrance-level requirements for the Galactic Club. We must be prepared for the possibility that we are not considered worth talking to, or that we will receive limited information that does not put the continuity of our physical, scientific, and moral evolution at risk.
Answers To: Alien Contact Advantage
[____] We are alone in the universe. Earth is a unique location that allowed the stability necessary for life to develop.
Robin McKie, Science Editor for the Observer, 7/16/2000, “There's life out there ... but not as we dreamt it,” http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2000/jul/16/spaceexploration.theobserver
WE ARE alone. Mankind may be the sole intelligent occupier of the entire galaxy, according to a growing number of scientists involved in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Seti). After decades of employing radio telescopes in vain bids to hear E.T. phoning home, and after studying patterns of evolution on Earth, they believe that complex, brainy extraterrestrials must be rare, if not non-existent. Life may be ubiquitous, they admit, but only on our planet did it evolve into beings capable of rational thought, sophisticated behaviour and powerful civilisations. On other worlds, it has remained rooted at the level of amoebas, microbes, and primitive pond life.
All aliens are scum, in other words an observation with crucial implications. As UK astronomer Ian Crawford points out in the latest issue of Scientific American, we may be 'the most advanced life-forms in the galaxy'.
'We used to think that once life emerged on a planet, intelligent beings would inevitably appear,' added Dr Ian Morison, director of Seti research at Britain's Jodrell Bank radio telescope. 'Now, it seems we only evolved thanks to an extraordinary series of fortuitous events.'
The first and most important of these lucky breaks concerns location, as astronomers Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee recently revealed in Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe (Copernicus). Earth far from being an average world in an unimportant part of the cosmos turns out to be prime galactic real estate.
First, our sun is a highly stable star and is unaffected by wild fluctuations in output of its radiation. Such afflictions emanate from many other stars and would destroy evolving advanced life-forms, allowing only bacteria-like entities to flourish. In addition, ours is a safe suburban part of the galaxy, the astronomical equivalent of Cheltenham. By contrast, in more crowded, 'down-town' galactic neighbourhoods, in stellar Sauchiehall Streets of the universe, jostling stars are likely to have continually dislodged the swathes of comets believed to hover at the edges of most solar systems. These comets would then have crashed into each star's family of planets with devastating consequences for their evolving life-forms. In addition, Earth has a planetary big brother, Jupiter, which sweeps up those few dangerous comets that do make it through to the solar system's inner regions, while our world is further blessed in having a relatively large moon which helped stabilise Earth's rotation, preventing wild swings in our seasons and climate.
Answers To: Alien Contact Advantage
[___] The affirmative is naïve - advanced aliens would enslave and eat us just the way that we have done to less developed societies.
Jared Diamond, Professor of Geography and Physiology at UCLA, 12/05/1999, http://www.nytimes.com/1999/12/05/magazine/to-whom-it-may-concern.html
The remaining potential calamity is the one from outer space -- and I'm not talking about asteroids. The existence of so many billions of stars, and the recent discoveries of planets around some of those stars close enough for us to scrutinize with telescopes, make it probable that, somewhere, there are planets supporting intelligent beings capable of space travel. Some scientists have already sent radio signals or space probes to tell those beings about us and our location, so as to open a dialogue; a few others are now continuing those efforts. What will happen if they succeed, and if as a result some intelligent extraterrestrials come to visit us? The astronomers and others hope that the extraterrestrials, delighted to discover fellow intelligent beings, will sit down for a friendly chat. Perhaps the astronomers are right; that's the best-case scenario. A less pleasant prospect is that the extraterrestrials might behave the way we intelligent beings have behaved whenever we have discovered other previously unknown intelligent beings on earth, like unfamiliar humans or chimpanzees and gorillas. Just as we did to those beings, the extraterrestrials might proceed to kill, infect, dissect, conquer, displace or enslave us, stuff us as specimens for their museums or pickle our skulls and use us for medical research. My own view is that those astronomers now preparing again to beam radio signals out to hoped-for extraterrestrials are naive, even dangerous. And so, the Times Capsule might be opened by aliens who have conquered us. As they read our histories of what we did to one another and to apes, the thing that will most impress them about the capsule is the incredible stupidity of our refusal to learn from our own deeds.
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