Will contacting aliens get us all killed? | The Tylt
The idea of an alien invasion is largely the domain of second-rate Hollywood blockbusters, but it's a serious possibility. If we think intelligent life exists out there, we have to be prepared if they're assholes. Critics say we should be careful when we're looking for life. It's better to observe than to scream out "we're here." Others think there's nothing to worry about and welcome our new alien overlords. What do you think? 👽
Will contacting aliens get us all killed?
Experts say broadcasting the fact that humans exist is a bad idea because we don't know how aliens will respond. A civilization that's capable of interpreting those messages and then contacting us back is probably also capable of destroying us. They could be malevolent. They could just be hungry. Why risk it?
There are no good reasons to assume aliens will be nice to us. Look at all of human history. Most of the time when explorers encountered new cultures, they raped, plundered and conquered. There was rarely a peaceful mutual exchange of culture, technology, and trade. Aliens are likely to do that too, only with vastly more powerful weapons and technology.
Writing in Scientific American, the former chairman of SETI, John Gertz, argued that ‘‘a civilization with malign intent that is only modestly more advanced than we are might be able to annihilate Earth with ease by means of a small projectile filled with a self-replicating toxin or nano gray goo; a kinetic missile traveling at an appreciable percentage of the speed of light; or weaponry beyond our imagination.’’
People who want to make contact with aliens say the fears are overblown. First of all, Earth has been broadcasting a ton of signals into the universe for the past century. We can't pretend like we're not here. If there is advanced intelligent life out there, they would already know we're here. It's better to let them know that we're intelligent and start the conversation. If they wanted to eat us, they probably would have tried something by now.
Besides, fears of an alien invasion are completely overblown. The distance between Earth and other planets that may contain life is huge. If they're somehow able to travel faster than light, we're probably already screwed. And if they can't, it's unlikely we'll see an invasion for several thousands of years. That's not a realistic thing to worry about.
METI defenders also argue that the threat of some Klingon-style invasion is implausible, given the distances involved. If, in fact, advanced civilizations were capable of zipping around the galaxy at the speed of light, we would have already encountered them. The much more likely situation is that only communications can travel that fast, and so a malevolent presence on some distant planet will only be able to send us hate mail.