By M.P. Pellicer | Stranger Than Fiction Stories
What are the intentions of beings from another part of the universe? We know about ET calling home, so what should earthlings do when extraterrestrials call us? According to scientists we shouldn't hang up, we should just not answer at all.
Advances in technology have allowed astronomers to scour the far reaches of space for any signs of alien life. However despite sightings of UFOs and stories of close encounters, we have yet to produce definite evidence of extraterrestrial life, either intelligent or microbial.
There are scientists who wonder if in our search for life outside our planet, we might be sowing the seeds of our own destruction.
In 2018, Michael Hippke and John Learned published a study which warns what may come with contact with extraterrestrials.
Learned said, "There is no compelling reason at all to assume benevolence (for example that extraterrestrials are wise and kind due to their ancient civilization's experience)."
Human history has shown that indigenous populations do not fare well after contact with more technologically advanced civilizations.
What if it's only a message, and not actual contact? A message can contain more than just a greeting. A message could be used to spread disinformation to cause panic and confusion. It can contain a virus or a harmful code that can spread worldwide, through connected computer networks. Something that could bring technology to a standstill.
Unlike the peace-loving Klaatu from The Day the Earth Stood Still, the aliens' gift could be advanced artificial intelligence (AI), that like a Trojan Horse would trick humanity into developing self-replicating nanobots, that could be loosed on our planet to cause havoc.
The researchers explained that it would easier for aliens to "send a malicious message to eradicate humans compared to sending battle ships." The message of course would sound anything but threatening. It could read: "We are friends. The galactic library is attached. It is in the form of artificial intelligence (AI) which quickly learns your language and will answer your questions.You may execute the code following these instructions..."
Even if the message could be kept secret, there could be a whistle-blower who gets the information out to the public. Most certainly there would be a group demanding to accept the gift for religious or philosophical reasons.
What if the message is that AI can cure diseases like cancer, or offer salvation for those who face a terminal disease with no chance of a cure. The public could demand that scientists engage with the ETs and use the gift. Even if the authorities refused, eventually they would be overcome and when the true intent of the gift becomes obvious, it's too late.
Extraterrestrials could send a threatening message like: "We'll make your sun go supernova tomorrow." If not contained, this could cause panic in the population.
This is why scientist warn, the best action is that if any complex message is received it should be destroyed.
The Declaration of Principles Concerning Activities Following the Detection of Extraterrestrial Intelligence adopted by the International Academy of Astronautics dictates that any message should be made available to the entire scientific community as soon as possible after it is received.
Think of the film Alien (1979) where the main mission is to bring an aggressive life-form back to earth, and the crew is expendable. Decisions could be made which are not in the best interest of the human race. A worldwide conglomerate, which already has anti-human sentiment would welcome ETs at the expense of ordinary humans.
Or perhaps the same threat could come from humans posing as aggressive extraterrestrials in order to use emergency powers that would be enacted to fight them.
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