The term bureaucracy is often used in the pejorative sense because it can make things in our daily lives much tougher than they need to be. Anyone who has dealt with city zoning or codes can understand the frustration. However, there is a positive form of bureaucracy. Things cannot be done on a mass scale without some form of organization. It would be frustrating to come up with a novel solution for each and every need. We establish bureaucracy to carry out a process with efficiency and fairness. There are rules and guidelines that are followed. That helps to protect us from unwanted outcomes.
Extraterrestrial contact would require some form of bureaucracy. Initially it could be as simple as determining who carries out basic communication with aliens. It would need to grow from there, especially if there is high information transfer planned between aliens and humans. The initial bureaucracy would need to be established quickly. The United Nations is the only human institution designed to represent most of the world nations. As such, it would be integral in any alien First Contact situation. And yet some of the most criticized bureaucracy on Earth is United Nations based. So, how can the UN provide a platform for alien communication without creating a bureaucratic monster? That would be something for humans to consider in the long term. It would be a matter for the General Assembly and representing nations, to determine. In the short term, we would need an effective and efficient system of communication, and safeguards to protect the human civilization. I suggest that a set of working groups should be implemented immediately After First Contact. Those groups would consist of temporary appointments of experts in specific areas. They would be alien first responders, of sorts. The key would be to create these groups and appoint these experts quickly. That would need to be done by a small group of people; perhaps the UN Security Council? It would be important for the expert groups to be diverse. Clearly expertise would need to lead the way, but sex, race, age and background would need to be considered. It would also be easy to appoint people just from the world superpowers, and ignore smaller or less established nations. I have formed a list of experts that could be called upon. However, it is a very narrow group of those most involved in extraterrestrial intelligence, and human technology development issues.
These temporary groups, let’s call them the Initial Working Groups, would consider the information extraterrestrials offer, determine what was safe and ready to be communicated, and then how best distribute that information. I must, once again, stress the temporary nature of such a framework. Having the Initial Working Groups would provide time for a more robust system to be developed, subject to vigorous debate, and eventual approval by the UN General Assembly.
There would be those who argue against alien information control and that viewpoint is understandable. Transparency and openness is often the best route in many human circumstances. However, this particular circumstance would be unlike anything we have previously encountered. It comes with high risk and many potential threats. Going slowly doesn’t mean that the wider population of humanity won’t eventually receive all of the information aliens are willing to share. It simply gives us the framework to consider the impact of such information before it is released.
Appointees to the Initial Working Groups would be subject to a great deal of pressure. You can imagine the power an individual would have with access to alien information before the rest of the world. It would be important for members to take a leave of absence from any business or academic employment. They would need to be paid to prevent corruption. The appointees would need to sign non-disclosure papers. That may concern some people, but the emphasis on non-disclosure would be to prevent the release of alien information in leaks. Any debate about the make-up or actions of such a working group would need to be open to full public scrutiny. Appointees should have the ability to comment on organizational issues. There would also need to be a separate watchdog group formed, to make sure the rules were being followed.
In my next post I will provide some thoughts as to what Initial Working Groups would be needed.