03 Philosophy Viewpoints

When We Find Aliens

We’ll be changed forever

Let’s say our search for signs of extra-terrestrial life finds something this year. What would be the effect on humanity?

There are many first-contact type movies, but I am wondering about the scenario where we detect the signs of life from afar, we don’t know if it’s aware of our existence, we understand it minimally, and we can’t go there any time soon.

For this exploration, let’s consider three situations:

  1. The distant life forms are at an evolutionary state like on Earth about 500 million years ago.
  2. At about the same stage as we are now
  3. Unfathomably ahead

1. If the alien life is primordial

We may

  • Carry on, as usual, fighting among ourselves
  • Carry on, as usual, ruining the planet
  • Feel superior and unique, at least for a while
  • Look at the life-harbouring planet as a way out of a future extinction on Earth
  • Credit our Gods with even more than their hitherto powers and extend their scope vastly out into the cosmos

2. If the alien life seems very much like ours

We could

  • Feel a completely new sense of oneness as Earthlings.
  • Ruin our planet even faster, knowing it’s not so special.
  • Feel tremendous curiosity but little fear, knowing that mutual visits are unlikely any time soon.
  • Try to signal friendship in case they can help us out in future, wondering if they may be expecting the same for themselves.
  • Question and discard our religious beliefs and Gods as merely expedient in our evolution, knowing life is not such a unique creation.

3. If the alien intelligence appears to be very advanced

Perhaps we will

  • See ourselves a lot more clearly and mature rapidly.
  • Take care of our planet better, knowing there is much to look forward to.
  • Feel very small, backward and afraid of direct contact.
  • Try not to draw attention till we know more.
  • Quietly try to learn as much as we can through observation so that we can catch up.
  • Wonder if they are the Gods we believe in.

Knowing that an alien life form exists will transform humanity forever. Like isolated tribes of deep rainforests or remote islands are changed forever when they come in contact with us, we will never be the same again, for better or worse. Hopefully, it’ll be for the better.

Now that would be something to experience in our lifetimes. How exciting it would be, how life-changing. Can’t wait!

Hello, hold on, what’s that they are showing on BBC World News?? It can’t be, no, it is…wow, Hubble’s detected something definitely intelligent, and it seems to be coming from…..


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