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Thread: How should first contact be handled?

  1. #31
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    Suppose that the wolves ravaged our planet but left most of us still alive afterward*. Then they left.
    Why would they do that? Why would they bother?

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrWho View Post
    ...Why would they bother?
    Maybe its no 'bother' to them. Maybe they want a military training exercise. Maybe they are just xenophobic. Maybe they want to destroy any potential competition. Maybe we could never understand their motives. There are a gazillion possibilities many of which we might never think of, with our simian thought processes.

    I am not saying that this is likely. I am saying that a true assumption of life being commonplace would mean that a cost benefit analysis of deliberately making one self known in a unknown forest, (our local part of the galaxy,) would seem to indicate that we should sit down and shut up till we know more. Plain old common sense.

    BTW breaking up the radio telescope would be likely... but unfortunate,... since it would be at that point that we would definitely need to know much more about our local neighbourhood.

  3. #33
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    There are a gazillion possibilities many of which we might never think of, with our simian thought processes.
    My simian thought processes can't see the point of such an act. If they have the technical know-how to travel between the stars, then the universe is their oyster (so to speak). They would get a lot more by ravaging our (or their) own asteroid belts and other such rocky/gaseous resources.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrWho View Post
    My simian thought processes can't see the point....
    Um... didn't you see the four (out of a gazillion ), possibilities I mentioned?

    Yes... if all they want is rocks... they probably have their own nearby asteroids.... and Denebian oysters...

    The fact that you wouldn't want to go and terrorise, destroy, enslave, anal probe, or commit general mayhem in nearby systems only goes to show that we all can be proud of you..... It doesn't say anything about whether or not some alien species might want to.

    Risk analysis says if you don't have a clue about your neighbours and their motives don't say hello till you do....

  5. #35
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    ET Contact - good or bad?

    I used to think that discovering ET would be a great thing. Now I'm not so sure. In all of our existence, we have only known ourselves to be the most intelligent & dominant species ever known. I think if we discovered a more advanced alien (or they reveal themselves), it would have profound effects on our psychi. I think we will feel vulnerable. We would know that we could be annihalated if they wanted us to be. Just like we can stomp on an ant pile for no reason. This mentality would then lead to chaos and anarchy. So I'm starting to think it might be best to not make contact.

  6. #36
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    Um... didn't you see the four (out of a gazillion ), possibilities I mentioned?
    Well, I can also see a possibility where they might want to enslave our womenfolk for their sexual gratification, as one of those gazillion possibilities, but that would be just as pointless for serious consideration...

  7. #37
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    Why would they come here at all? Crossing stars is a massive undertaking; if anyone has the capacity to do that, nothing we do is going to be any threat to them.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrWho View Post
    Well, I can also see a possibility where they might want to enslave our womenfolk for their sexual gratification,...
    Well, I could do that!!.....

    They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they did. ~ Redcloud.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrWho View Post
    Well, I can also see a possibility........ but that would be just as pointless for serious consideration...
    Um... perhaps I made a mistake in taking a light-hearted tone on what could be a very serious subject. I do not consider that any of the possibilities that I mentioned are out of the question. OK.... I was joking about the anal probes... and the Denebian oysters...

    The military one is also a bit unlikely... but not impossible. Those four were just of the top of my head.... there truly are many possible reasons why a alien species may wish us harm.

    It is often said (as a sort of religious chant) that a truly technologically advanced species would be enlightened and beneficent. (Assuming that only a technologically advanced species would have the wherewithal to build interstellar craft.... which is an assumption that can be argued against...) I personally find it amazing that people as worthy of respect as Carl Sagan and many others can, (or did,) hold such an unjustified view.

    There is nothing inherently moral in advanced technology... just a modicum of intelligence, a society that in some way, (it doesn't need to encourage it...,) allows for the possibility of scientific advancement, and oodles of time will get you there. Considering that the universe has been around for 13 plus billion years, and 3rd gen stars for most of that time, statistically it is extremely unlikely that any co-existent species will be anything other than at least millions of years different in their stage of advancement.... irrespective of the as-yet-unknown likely period for life beginning.

    I will agree that it is possible (and perhaps even likely) that advanced technology societies don't last long because they manage to annihilate themselves.... (we are a case in point perhaps)... but unless it is invariably so, it still may leave a large number of star faring species co-existent.

    It is certainly possible to imagine societies that are semi-static for long, even staggeringly long, periods, (perhaps for overwhelmingly strong biological reasons for instance), but that time scale still would allow for massive technological differences.

    Now you can say that this doesn't seem a matter for serious consideration... but if so, could you please point to the errors in my argument.

    NoCleverName: Yes to us it would be a staggering, unlikely investment of our resources... but it may not be so to some other species. And as to whether or not we are a threat... now, or in their estimation of the possible future, that may not be the reason they wish us harm... they just might like a clean house without vermin... who knows. (And that is merely one of those gazillion (love that word) possibilities.

    Think about it.... if nanotechnology and robotics and all the other gee-whiz technologies came to fruition, (even just a couple,) then any of us might in the far future have the capability (and time) to go relativistically off to nearby systems.... and at that point we might know quite a bit about them.

    Now imagine redneck Billy-Joe with a high tech bazooka off 'hunting' the local systems for sport... unlikely yes.... impossible... no. And if it can be imagined... it likely has happened in a universe this big and old. Hopefully not now... or here...

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by WalrusLike
    Now you can say that this doesn't seem a matter for serious consideration... but if so, could you please point to the errors in my argument.
    You seem to have expanded your argument somewhat from your original statement:

    Quote Originally Posted by WalrusLike
    ...suppose a 'wolf' species did come to us in response to a friendly hello from a small bunch of astronomers who used their radio telescope to send rather than receive. Suppose that the wolves ravaged our planet but left most of us still alive afterward. Then they left.
    Which is what I was responding to. Their motivation to 'ravage' our planet still seems rather tenuous.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrWho View Post
    You seem to have expanded your argument somewhat from your original statement: ....
    Which is what I was responding to. Their motivation to 'ravage' our planet still seems rather tenuous.
    Nah Doc... I haven't expanded beyond what I first said... look at my first post in this thread.... perhaps you missed it? All I have done is fill in some detail.

    The ravage word was chosen for its light heartedness... but read my first post... I am not joking... I feel disgusted when someone has the hubris to decide for a whole planet that they can sing out to the cosmos 'because everyone out there is bound to be a sweetheart'.

    I come form a land down under... and many of us joke a bit... maybe too much... but I am serious about this.

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by clint View Post
    It could also perfectly be neither common, nor confined to our solar system.
    Or primitive life extremely common, but intelligent life extremely rare.
    Or extremely rare to emerge by itself, but still omnipresent in our galaxy.
    Or...
    What if we are the most advanced species in our galaxy, yet?
    (not saying we are, but it's possible - it would certainly solve Fermi's Paradox)...
    Sorry Clint, I initially missed your post... You are of course entirely correct. I was simplifying, and perhaps exaggerating. All of the speculation about frequency of space faring civilisations is extremely speculative until more data arrives. (Hopefully not in the form of a 'ravaging' hoard )

    But as you seem to agree.... that doesn't really change the point that we should be more cautious than bold until we know more.

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrWho View Post
    Their motivation to 'ravage' our planet still seems rather tenuous.
    I disagree! We have 'ravaged' our own planet for years, and are still doing so. Rain forests have/and still are being depleted. The whale and other ocean mammals are being needlessly slaughtered, as it the tiger and many other species. The above examples are backed by multi-million $$$ industries, fuelled by greed and profit!

    I would think that the most unlikely reason any alien species would want to travel light years to get here, would be to greet us with a garland of flowers and a handshake!

    They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they did. ~ Redcloud.

  14. #44
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    How would those astronomers be treated by the survivors?
    The astronomers would be smart enough to run and hide before the surviviors could do anything.
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  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves
    The astronomers would be smart enough to run and hide before the surviviors could do anything.
    Or they may send an SOS signal into space seeking help...

  16. #46
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    Or they may send an SOS signal into space seeking help...
    And then we'd have something like Godzilla vs. Mothra.
    The greatest journey of all time, for all to see
    Every mission makes our dreams reality
    And our destiny begins with you and me
    Through all space and time, the achievement of mankind
    As we sail the sea of discovery, on heroes’ wings we fly!

  17. #47
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    Let's think this through. Are best realistic speculations suggest the following parameters:

    A) superluminal transits are unlikely
    B) a colonizing generation/world ship would be massive, but not implausible
    C) a colonizing generation/world ship may need to beging decelerating in advance of entering a solar system
    D) Our random EM noise is not speculated to be indistinguishable from noise within a short distance (a couple lightyears or less)
    E) We are not currently broadcasting a brighter radio signal that would serve to let someone there is a civilization already here or one that includes approach protocols.

    Based on those assumptions, conflict is likely to result with first contact. It's most likely that if an alien species contacts us, it will be because they have decelerated into this system without realizing we were here and no longer have the capability to pass us by. Even if we manage to have peace initially, there will eventually be competition for resources.
    Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.

  18. #48
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    Whatever the cost, even a bit of ravishment, is going to be trivial assuming we survive, because we will now know that various technological methods are possible for travel, or defence, and will be able to develop them ourselves, especially if the scientists aren't killed.

  19. #49
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    How do we know we are intelligent? Our intelligence is based on comparison to other life forms on this planet such as dogs, fish, birds etc.. What if our smartest person - who knows who that is but lets just use Stephen Hawking as an example - was 10000X dumber (lack of better word) than their dumbest person.

    WalrusLike, I totally agree with your comments. Who knows how ET's will be. They could be hostile and ravage us for who knows what purpose. This will always be speculation, fun to talk about, but speculation.

  20. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ara Pacis View Post
    Let's think this through. Are best realistic speculations suggest the following parameters:

    A) superluminal transits are unlikely
    B) a colonizing generation/world ship would be massive, but not implausible
    C) a colonizing generation/world ship may need to beging decelerating in advance of entering a solar system
    If you are using a generation ship, it is somewhat wasteful to decelerate the whole vessel on arrival. Instead you can transfer to a smaller ship which has less mass to decelerate, leaving the large vessel with its massive biosphere to continue at speed through the system.
    -
    Based on those assumptions, conflict is likely to result with first contact.
    Which could be as simple as crashing a billion tonne biosphere at 0.01c into the planet; if you have that much mass already travelling at speed through a system you might as well use it.

  21. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndeavorRX7 View Post
    ...WalrusLike, I totally agree with your comments....This will always be speculation, fun to talk about, but speculation.
    Thanks Endeavor. You look like a friendly bloke. Thumbs up to you too....

    My point, I think, is more than just speculation. What has been said about broadcasts and detection may or may not be true.... I don't know.

    What I do know, is that on more than one occasion, astronomers (maybe some among us here....) have had the amazing short-sightedness, or alternatively the amazing hubris, to decide for the entire planet that it is ok to sing out to the forest, as loud as they can, that we are here.

    I advocate NEVER doing that again. I also advocate a bit of stealth, if possible, in all our deep space comms to exploring probes. Paranoid? Maybe... but a bit of caution costs nothing and may save everything.

    I personally live in hope that the Seti search finds a broadcast of the Encyclopedia Galactica and that we learn that we have companions and that they are friendly. But until we know for sure I don't want to make more noise than necessary.... just in case it isn't all beer and skittles out there.

    Which brings me to say again.... its more than speculation... we need to stop the naive well-wishers among us from sending deliberate invites out to folk we don't know, and who might not have good table manners...

  22. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ara Pacis View Post
    Let's think this through...A)...B)...C)....Even if we manage to have peace initially, there will eventually be competition for resources.
    Ara Pacis you have outlined some possibilities but I don't think they are the only ones.... small high tech probes, single-being light ships... all sorts of possibilities exist. Remember that we cannot assume that they have similar physiological needs to ours.... or that they view a few hundred years the same way we do.

    I also disagree with the 'conflict is inevitable' idea... if that's the case then there is no hope for groups of people ever getting on well together.

    But none of that speculation matters to me... what does is that we don't stick our heads up till we know what's out there. That is a solid point that we can act on... the rest will just have to unfold over time.

  23. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndeavorRX7 View Post
    How do we know we are intelligent? Our intelligence is based on comparison to other life forms on this planet such as dogs, fish, birds etc..
    Because that's the defintion of the word "intelligent".
    What if our smartest person - who knows who that is but lets just use Stephen Hawking as an example - was 10000X dumber (lack of better word) than their dumbest person.
    I am leery of saying "A is 10 (or 10,000) times dumber than B" because I do not think intelligence is something that could be measured on a linear scale. But here is a more concrete example:

    A gorilla can be taught to understand and use language, and to count. Yet no amount of teaching will enable a gorilla to grasp Maxwell's equations. That level of abstract thought is simply not there. So suppose there are physical or mathematical notions that no human being is capable of grasping any more than gorilla could grasp laws of electromagnetism. And suppose there is a being which CAN grasp them, yet can not explain them to us no matter how hard it tries, because we simply lack brain structures for it. What would we call such being?

    "Trans-intelligent" or "post-sentient" come to mind, but they do not really mean anything, any more than the adjective "intelligent" means to a gorilla. It's just a label to describe something we can not even in theory understand.

  24. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilya View Post
    ...A gorilla can be taught to understand and use language, and to count. Yet no amount of teaching will enable a gorilla to grasp Maxwell's equations....
    I think that is exactly what is going on over at http://www.bautforum.com/questions-a...-question.html
    where KenG is trying to explain something to me and I am not (so far) getting it.

    I already know how we all will feel when the trans-intelligent (fully sentient??) beings arrive.

  25. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by WalrusLike View Post
    It is often said (as a sort of religious chant) that a truly technologically advanced species would be enlightened and beneficent. (Assuming that only a technologically advanced species would have the wherewithal to build interstellar craft.... which is an assumption that can be argued against...) I personally find it amazing that people as worthy of respect as Carl Sagan and many others can, (or did,) hold such an unjustified view.
    The reasoning is that a technologically advanced species would at least have to be reasonable peaceful among themselves.
    Otherwise they'd wouldn't last long enough after the invention of nuclear weapons to develop interstellar travel.

    It has some flaws.

  26. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ilya View Post
    ...
    A gorilla can be taught to understand and use language, and to count. Yet no amount of teaching will enable a gorilla to grasp Maxwell's equations. That level of abstract thought is simply not there. So suppose there are physical or mathematical notions that no human being is capable of grasping any more than gorilla could grasp laws of electromagnetism. And suppose there is a being which CAN grasp them, yet can not explain them to us no matter how hard it tries, because we simply lack brain structures for it. What would we call such being?

    "Trans-intelligent" or "post-sentient" come to mind, but they do not really mean anything, any more than the adjective "intelligent" means to a gorilla. It's just a label to describe something we can not even in theory understand.
    You probably have a point there, Ilya, about our intelligence being limited.
    (although some would argue that our capability to use that intelligence in a reasonable and consistent way, is even more limited

    But I think we have crossed a threshold, however limited our capabilities may be.
    Humans can understand abstract concepts,
    and however complicated your hypothetical 'post-sentient' world might be,
    there should always be a way to explain the concept to a human in simplified terms.

    Actually, astronomy is a good example for this.

    Most of the people on this forum are not mathematicians, physicists or astronomers.
    In spite of that, most of us are able to grasp concepts like relativity, big bang, light speed, etc
    even if we don't understand the details.

  27. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Halcyon Dayz View Post
    The reasoning is that a technologically advanced species would at least have to be reasonable peaceful among themselves.
    Otherwise they'd wouldn't last long enough after the invention of nuclear weapons to develop interstellar travel.

    It has some flaws.
    Your not wrong!... boy does it have flaws... if you are really, really bored I can elaborate....

    Does anyone agree with me that it is a bad idea to shout out to the forest? I would like to see a bigger circulation of this concept so that woolly-headed do-righters don't send any more messages out. Perhaps if there are any astronomers here on the forums they might advocate that point of view among their colleagues... the very folk who might potentially put us all at risk. Or if they think I am nuts then tell me so.... and then perhaps we can argue the point.

    Dont get me wrong about this... I dont think it is likely that we will suffer badly from first contact... only that the risk/benefit of shouting out is very, very badly out of whack. It is a unlikely event perhaps... but the consequences could be disastrous.

    Far, far better to find out that we have companions out there by finding out about them first.

  28. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by WalrusLike View Post
    Does anyone agree with me that it is a bad idea to shout out to the forest?
    Not if the nearest tree in the forest is a hundred light-years away.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  29. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Not if the nearest tree in the forest is a hundred light-years away.
    If you lived on a pacific island 25,000 years ago you wouldnt have to worry about creatures from another island coming to visit. These days boats make the journey easy. Back then one good sized body of water or one desert or mountain range would protect you from invaders.

    Folks you still seem to be thinking in strictly human-like terms. The nearest tree is only a few light years away... there are a bunch of trees within 100 light years.... but even if it was 100 light years to the nearest tree... at relativistic velocities (and time dilations) that may represent only a tiny fraction of their life span... perhaps they like a good hibernate every thousand years or so... who knows.

    For high levels of technology and for wildly different biologies, the seemingly enormous gaps between the stars may present no big obstacle to a space faring species. They may not even need relativistic velocities. They may be happy to drift on slowly over... who knows.

  30. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by WalrusLike View Post
    If you lived on a pacific island 25,000 years ago you wouldnt have to worry about creatures from another island coming to visit. These days boats make the journey easy. Back then one good sized body of water or one desert or mountain range would protect you from invaders.
    Well, they didn't have the means to send signals very far, either.

    Otherwise, the reasons to be cautious would have been similar to ours.
    They didn't know whether there were possibly much more advanced and hostile people around...

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