The other day I heard that Stephen Hawking thinks there’s probably life elsewhere in the universe, and it’s going to come to Earth with a bad attitude. Chances are, he said, that it will have used up its own planet and will want to conquer us and colonize Earth with its own kind.
Given this likelihood, he says, we should stop trying to make contact with alien life. (Apparently we’ve been beaming friendly messages out into the universe for years, in the hopes of attracting aliens. For example, US probes Pioneer 10 and 11, launched in 1972 and 1973, bore plaques of a naked man and woman and symbols conveying the positions of the Earth and the Sun. More recently, we beamed out the Beatles’ “Across the Universe” to the deep space region of the North Star.)
Leaving aside the question of the appropriateness of trying to attract aliens with naked pictures of ourselves, Hawking fears it is naive of us to try to attract them at all, given the likelihood that they will be predatory. We should just keep our heads low and hope they don’t find us.
I think one positive outcome of having hostile alien life attempt to conquer us and take over our planet, would be an instant sense of solidarity and unity among us. All our petty wars would end immediately. We’d stop fighting with each other, country against country and religion against religion. We’d all be on the same side: Humans against the Aliens.
Go Humans Go.
Hawking also questions whether intelligence is compatible with survival. The human race has put its own future in jeopardy through the misuse of intelligence and the creation of things like nuclear weapons.
“If the same holds for intelligent aliens, then they might not last long,” he said. “Perhaps they all blow themselves up soon after they discover that E=mc2. If civilizations take billions of years to evolve, only to vanish virtually overnight, then sadly we’ve next to no chance of hearing from them.”
Anyway. Let’s do a poll. Do you hope the aliens come during your lifetime, or after you’re gone? (If you’re reading this in a feedreader or email, you’ll need to pop over to knitnut.net to vote in the poll.)