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Author Topic:   Avoiding Aliens
Member (Idle past 3089 days)
Posts: 174
From: Oregon
Joined: 12-28-2008

Message 1 of 62 (557466)
04-26-2010 2:14 AM

According to the Times, Stephen Hawking has suggested in a new BBC documentary series that if there is sentient life out there, we should try to avoid it. His main argument is this:

[Hawking] suggests that aliens might simply raid Earth for its resources and then move on: “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.”

He concludes that trying to make contact with alien races is “a little too risky”. He said: “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

While the prospect of meeting a sentient alien species is exciting (even if very far fetched), I think he does make a good point. Just looking at our own history, the groups of people who ventured furthest across the globe also tended to be the ones with the greatest capacity for mass brutality and oppression. Who's to say an alien species with the technology to visit us wouldn't try to enslave or simply destroy us "savages"? I have a feeling the truly dangerous thing about an alien encounter is that enough people would flip their lids and we'd end up either destroying ourselves or instigating a war that would end in our destruction.

My main question to you is: Do the potential benefits from contacting alien species outweigh the risks, or has Dr Hawking been watching too much V?

We have many intuitions in our life and the point is that many of these intuitions are wrong. The question is, are we going to test those intuitions?
-Dan Ariely
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