So they would basically do what we did to the rest of the natural world. Only this time, we’ll be on the receiving end and it won’t be as fun.
Last week, NASA made history when they announced the discovery of 7 Earth-like exoplanets orbiting a star just 40 light-years away from us. All seven exoplanets sit in what is known as the habitable zone, an area around a star where water can exist in liquid form.
Once again, the internet was flooded with speculation and theories about the aliens that might inhabit the TRAPPIST-1 Star System. Additionally, this announcement has revitalized our fear of being invaded, conquered and then exploited like slaves.
Many scientists warn against attempts to initiate communication with intelligent extraterrestrials, lest we want to suffer the same fate as any other civilization that was ever conquered by another, more technologically-advanced one.
One of the biggest proponents of the Be Quiet! approach is cosmologist Stephen Hawking, one of the brightest minds our world has ever seen. Like the rest of us, he is deeply interested in the prospect of finding alien life, but at the same time, he urges us to exercise caution in our search for answers.
The theoretical physicist says contact with an extremely-advanced alien intelligence would not go well for us. If we were to be visited by extraterrestrials, it would probably be a nomadic race whose mission is to travel the galaxy. But exploration has to be motivated by intention, and for our collective sake, we should not assume the aliens’ driving force is simply curiosity.
This wayfaring alien race would hop from planet to planet, taking control over the natives (if any are present) and, like the Anunnaki are said to have done in the past, force these natives into doing their bidding. Resource gathering, monument-building, the possibilities are virtually endless when you have an entire planet under your rule.
In an interview with Discovery, Hawking said there is a high chance that such an alien race would be destructive and mercy would probably lack from their vocabulary.
If so, it makes sense for them to exploit each new planet for material to build more spaceships so they could move on. Who knows what the limits would be?”
Hawking is part of the Breakthrough Initiative, a global effort and the largest of its kind. Breakthrough Listen brings together scientists from around the world and the funding of eccentric billionaires in what has become our best chance of finding intelligent life in the universe. But despite his association with this project, Stephen Hawking still thinks meeting aliens would go bad for us. The gap would be too wide and we’d get swallowed.
“We don’t know much about aliens, but we know about humans,” the scientist told attendees at a Breakthrough Listen conference. “If you look at history, contact between humans and less intelligent organisms have often been disastrous from their point of view, and encounters between civilizations with advanced versus primitive technologies have gone badly for the less advanced. A civilization reading one of our messages could be billions of years ahead of us. If so, they will be vastly more powerful, and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.”
Not everyone shares Hawking’s pessimistic views. Former SETI director Jill Tarter considers this line of thought cynical and counter-productive. She believes that “if aliens were to come here, it would be simply to explore. Considering the age of the universe, we probably wouldn’t be their first extra-terrestrial encounter, either.”
She makes a good point but in the end, we can all agree we have no guarantee that we’ll survive our first date with aliens.
Imagine a commercial fishing boat casting its net in the middle of the ocean. A shoal of sardines carelessly swims inside, the net tightens and is reeled in. If the poor suckers knew what was going on, they would certainly plead for their lives. But as tragic as it would be for them, their request would fall on deaf ears, since humans are higher on the pyramid and their needs trump all others’.
The same thing could happen to us. We’d go kicking and screaming but in the end, it wouldn’t matter to our alien overlords. So maybe the safest thing would be to heed Hawking’s handwriting on the wall and keep quiet.