I have to say I like Stephen Hawking and have read a few of his books so he is somewhat of a hero of mine, but goodness I am a little tired of his doom and gloom attitude lately. I mean he has constantly said that we humans only have about 100 years left for whatever reason. Then he says that if we survive that then we only have about 1,000 years on planet Earth because of climate change. Now he is saying that we should not be sending out any signals to attract aliens as they would probably destroy us.
Of the three doom and gloom prophecies that Hawking has put forth I think the only one that has any merit is the 1,000 years left on planet Earth. I think that one is the only real plausible idea that he has mentioned. Look, it would take some monumental catastrophe to end human civilization in 100 years. We survived probably the most violent 100 years, 1900 to 2000 just fine, so I would be inclined to think that we will surpass that threshold with relative ease for the next century. Climate change is a bit more tricky because we are really not sure what is going on so that one is tough to say. I put that idea in terms of plausibility as fairly unlikely, although still within the realm of possibility just because there are so many unknowns.
Lastly, and what I mostly wanted to talk about was the idea that aliens would come here to destroy us as he states in the last article above. Much like the conquistadors did to the Native American civilizations in the New World long ago. Honestly, I have to put this on in the realm of extremely unlikely as we have no evidence that life exists, well anywhere. But for the sake of argument let’s say that there are plenty of intelligent civilizations out there we just have not found them yet. So with that being said let’s take a look at some of the reasons aliens would want to come across the universe to pick a fight.
They want our planet.
This one is probably the only plausible reason I can think of that actually makes sense. Wanting our planet is different from just needing resources, as any intelligent civilization knows that they can get any number of minerals and even water from other planets, asteroids, or comets across the universe. So coming here for resources is pretty dumb. But if they needed our planet then that is a little different. BUT I am still not buying it. A civilization that travels across the universe to find us would surely have sufficient technology to terraform a planet. But if this is not the case and they do not possess this technology then I am still not sure they would be able to live on our planet. It is filled with bacteria and any number of things that could be harmful to them. So if they did want our planet I would think they would need some sort of mini-terraforming technology to at least shape Earth to their biological needs and again I would think if they could do that then they could potentially terraform a whole planet, so what is the point especially when the locals might be hostile. Maybe Earth is just the right distance from the sun for their liking, well there are hundreds of planets we are finding that are in the “Goldilocks Zone.” So again why pick ours? I honestly think that when you start to think about it this argument it quickly breaks down and does not make sense.
They want to conquer us for their massive Galactic Empire making us slaves.
I think this one is equally as farfetched as the above scenario. Let’s take a look at a few things that deal with this idea. The first is that myself along with some other psychological experts, agree that aggressiveness is something that is learned but it can also be weeded out of a civilization. So early in our evolution being aggressive might have meant that we get to eat or frighten off a tiger from our kill. Those same traits today might land you in jail. The point is that as civilizations grow and advance generally they become less aggressive, and if they do not I would say that they will eventually destroy themselves making it extremely unlikely that they will reach interstellar travel. In general, IN GENERAL, for the most part I would say that our civilization as a whole has become less violent, again that is generally speaking. If you think back to ancient times there was always a war going on as Empires rose and fell, now that is not so much the case. While it may not seem like it, I would argue that overall we are less violent now than 500 years ago and less.
Think about this scenario let’s say that ISIS takes over the world. For the first time in history the world is ruled by one entity crazy ass ISIS. I think it is safe to say that ISIS is extremely violent and aggressive, not only that but from what I have heard it does not appear they are too concerned with developing technology or advancing society in any way. In fact I would say that if this scenario were to take place Earth would lose 500 years of civilization and return to the Dark Age mindset. So with that being said do you think ISIS would have a space program, or as I said, worry about developing new and exciting technologies. I am going to go out on a limb here and say no. So again this highly violent and aggressive civilization would, I believe, eventually destroy itself or be the victim of perpetual uprisings and civil wars. Again if this were the case I doubt they would reach interstellar travel and be able to spread their violence and hate across the universe.
The only caveat to this is if the technology already exists and for some reason there is a civil war or an overthrow of power and this civilization is then ruled by some sort of dictator. Then that dictator could be hell bent on conquering the universe for whatever reason. But I think this is something that is best left to a good scifi novel, as again I think that any super intelligent interstellar civilization is absent of almost all aggression and or violence. In my opinion I think that super intelligence and violence are mutually exclusive in flesh and blood aliens. To me it seems extremely unlikely that a highly aggressive and violent species would make it to being an interstellar species. If they were hyper violent then any progress would be met with great strife, only a species that was able to work together as a whole, in my opinion, would be able to achieve both super intelligence and interstellar abilities.
Aliens are all super intelligent robots
All things being equal I think this one is more than likely true. I believe, and have nothing but theories to base this on, but that if we ever do meet aliens they will be robots. But this is sort of a Russel’s Paradox as if they truly were robots I do not think they would make contact as we have nothing they want or need other than to be friends. I would then argue that a super intelligent robot does not need a friend, especially a primitive flesh and blood one. So it would not make sense for it to make contact with us. This could be a reason why we have not found anyone or anything. There may be life out there but that “life” may need to be in quotation marks because it may be metal and machine rather than flesh and blood. And if that is the case I highly doubt that they would contact or want to meet us. The other problem with this is that we do not know how an alien AI would be programmed. It could be programmed to meet other civilizations and technology, while it could also be programmed to do its own thing, whatever that may be. So if there are aliens out there I think there is a greater than 50% chance they are robots or computer of some sort and if that is the case then that drastically decreases the likelihood that they would want to make contact to us. But still that is a non-zero number, insert Lloyd Christmas meme here. “So you saying there’s a chance!”
Taking our Resources
I touched on this one briefly above but I will discuss it more here. There are those that think an alien civilization would come half way across the universe to mine our resources as our planet does have quite a few. It could be that they devoured all that their home planet had or that their planet was destroyed and they had to leave. Either way this theory is again silly. Everything that we have here on Earth can be found in the same if not greater quantities almost anywhere in the universe. Our planet is nothing unique when it comes to the resources we possess, other than perhaps oil. It primarily contains hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. I would have to imagine that somewhere in the universe these three chemicals would have come together in just the right way to create oil. Still there is quite a lot of it on our planet, but I think it is safe to say that this is an extremely primitive fuel source and an inefficient one, only about 20% Thermal Efficiency. The point is that I doubt an interstellar civilization would have any need for fossil fuels or oil. Again there is almost nothing that I can think of that is not available somewhere else in the universe that an alien civilization could not get easier than on Earth. Look, if you had the ability to travel anywhere in the universe and I told you that Planet Y has what we need but so does Planet Z. The only difference is that Planet Z has beings on it and they have weapons and such, whereas Planet Y has no life. I bet you would go to planet Y as it is uninhabited and you won’t have to deal with the locals. Conquistadors came to the New World for gold and for glory, gold can be found anywhere in the universe. There is nothing of specific value here on Earth that an intelligent civilization would need or want that is not readily available elsewhere.
The repeated argument of when the East, in terms of the Conquistadors and cowboys, moved West, destroying the Native Americans they did so because there were things that the Natives had that they wanted, also the resources they were after we in a sense limited. There was no more land being made. They came for gold and then land, so more or less resources. Again the universe is abundant with any number of resources and for the most part an alien civilization would not have to use resources to fight a war against us to get them. Even if they had extreme technology and could both take all our resources in an instant and render all our weapons useless, why? There are millions if not billions of other planets or asteroids or what have you out there that they could mine just as easily, so again why come here? It just does not make any sense.
The only reason, or halfway viable, reason an alien civilization would come here to take our planet could be because there are only a handful of planets in the universe that are capable of sustaining life. I do not think this is true as even the most extremely modest numbers still yield hundreds if not thousands of habitable planets. So while that may seem plausible, when you start to look at the numbers, that argument quickly breaks down. Plus there is almost a 0% chance that they would be able to just show up and walk around on the planet without any reproductions. As in the famous novel by H.H. Wells War of the Worlds, bacteria and other pathogens would potentially be extremely harmful to an alien species. In my opinion no scenario really makes any sense as to why a highly advanced civilization would come here to destroy us. It logically just does not make sense.
Why aliens would come here?
On the other hand I am trying to figure out a reason why an alien civilization with interstellar capabilities would some here to visit. Honestly, I think there is an extremely viable argument against everyone I could think of. The only real toss up is if they just wanted to make friends and that is something that is hard to really gauge. Another issues we do not know what super intelligence does to the friendliness of a species. What I mean is that, as I said above, I do not think they would be violent or aggressive, but I also do not think they would be overly friendly. I would imagine they would be cold and calculated with every decision, and to an extent would be thinking down the road and how each and every decisions would affect their civilization. So they could think there would be no benefit of making contact with a civilization like ours and they could also come to the conclusion that it would be bad for us for a variety of reasons. So friendship may be an afterthought to them, plus they may be protecting us. The only other plausible scenario which I also mentioned above, was that aliens are all robots or some form or artificial intelligence and would have no reason to make contact. I could see the alien AI potentially coming to talk to our AI but as for actually making contact with us I believe that is extremely small.
As you can tell I fell quite strongly about my position, and would love to talk to Hawking or whomever about this issue. I am sure there are any number of possibilities that I am not thinking about, but still I just cannot fathom an alien civilization coming here to take what we have or destroy us.