Sunday, June 22, 2008

The three essential elements for a successful First Contact

At the beginning of this blog the reader will find a proposal for how First Contact might occur. The basic premise is to use the mass media to reach a world-wide audience quickly; prove that First Contact is not a hoax; and introduce a process to contact world government.

There are three fundamental aspects to this proposal. They are: simplicity of design; speed of exposure and control of process.

Simplicity of design assumes that the best solution to any problem is the simplest solution. Elegant design is effective and simple. How does an alien civilization contact people of the planet Earth? Do they approach human government? Do they use a company or large organization? The more people involved in a First Contact situation, the tougher it is to pull off effectively. Complications arise in keeping the planning secret. Plans can be misconstrued. People outside of the planning group can assume conspiracies. This is especially true of First Contact with government. The ultimate body to reach for First Contact is the United Nations. However, the United Nations is one of the most bureaucracy bound governmental groups in the world. The initial contact, which is really a prelude to First Contact, would be nearly impossible to keep quiet in a bureaucracy.

Using a corporation or company presents similar issues. Who do you contact and how? How do you keep such a thing quiet? And further, what are the advantages to using a large body for First Contact planning? The simplest way to accomplish First Contact would be for direct communication between alien visitors and the people of planet Earth. The only issue is how this would take place. There will be an intense reaction to any strange craft landing in a public area. It is critical that someone control how that reaction will proceed.

The simplest approach is to involve the least number of people. One person could accomplish everything that would need to be done for planning. They could secure a landing location, research the people who will be involved in decision making, judge the possible reactions of those players and develop scenarios to handle those reactions. Why does this Earth coordinator need to be a human? Only a human would have access to the proper location and only a human could interact with other humans without arousing fear or suspicion. One would suppose that aliens with advanced technology might be able to pose as humans, but how would the world ever trust such an introduction? It would bring out every fear explored in a dozen science fiction films. Honesty is critical to First Contact. It is also a big part of simplicity of design. You want very little subterfuge. Working with one person helps. It is the most elegant way of handling the problem of planning First Contact.

Speed of exposure assumes that the best way to make a startling, world changing introduction is quickly. You are trying to reach the entire world with one big message and many smaller messages. The longer it takes to get those messages across, the more that can go wrong. You need a quick means of getting noticed, a fast way to get the message across and a speedy route to the ultimate goal, which is introduction of an alien civilization to the world and to the United Nations as the world body of government.

Thankfully, the means for such transmission already exist in the form of the modern media. The news media is not only designed to transmit such messages but absolutely dependable in the ability to do such. Let’s take the example of First Contact. If it is presented correctly every media outlet, in a free media society with advanced technology, will want to participate. The key is to get the media over what I call the “hoax hump”. This is the period of time when natural media skepticism is in play. Let’s say someone calls the media and says “Hey, I’ve been in contact with space aliens and they’ll be having a news conference at 3 p.m.” Unfortunately the media does receive such phone calls. Needless to say they don’t take them very seriously. However, let’s say an alien craft flies over a city. If it happens in the right media market, where television stations have the proper tools, the story is already there. The mere fact that something unknown is flying over the city is confirmed immediately by tower cams and other remote cameras. The key is to put the craft in the right location to be noticed and captured on video and live feed. With those pictures the hoax issue is somewhat moot. There is something strange going on and the TV stations have pictures. It would hit the air on every affiliate in town within minutes. Anyone who missed it wouldn’t do so for long. The police chatter that would result in such a flyover would only serve to increase media interest. This unknown thing is now attracting attention on the ground. Suddenly it is a news story no matter what the craft ends up being. It fits the primary media criteria of being unusual and impacting a lot of people.

What guarantees that this is how the event will be covered by the news media? Competition. It is essential that First Contact take place in an area with several aggressively competitive TV news operations. Let’s say that one station decides not to cover the craft flying over the city. The coverage on the other stations will ensure that they will participate. There may be some stragglers, but not for long.

So, where can one count on media coverage of this type? There are very few countries in the world with an aggressively competitive, multiple outlet, broadcast news system in most cities. Even more so, probably only one country has TV stations with the advanced technology needed for speed of exposure. The criteria: multiple competitive TV news operations; stations with extensive remote camera systems; stations with direct and immediate connections to networks; stations with satellite trucks and preferably stations with helicopters; although how many stations with helicopters becomes an issue. It could be dangerous to have an alien craft flying with five TV news helicopters in tow. The last thing you would want is some sort of accident during First Contact.

For all these reasons it is essential that First Contact occur in the United States. Only in the United States can the speed of exposure be quick enough. Only in the United States can transmission to the rest of the world be immediate through networks. Only in the United States does the media have a constitutionally guaranteed right to cover such strange events. If handled properly it would be nearly impossible for a local, state or the Federal government to squash such an event and keep it quiet.

What happens during First Contact is part of a process. Because of the possibility, in fact the absolute certainty, of attempted government interference in First Contact, the process must be handled very carefully. Speed of exposure helps, but does not prevent government agencies from interfering in First Contact.

The process must be planned to the finest detail. It must include multiple scenarios. Planning must try and predict all possible reactions and present clear solutions. In the end the process must also be flexible. In the very beginning stages of First Contact the actions of one person could cause major problems. An example: what does the first police officer on the scene do? Do they try and evacuate the area? Do they try and keep the media out? How about the first commander on the scene? How does one keep the police, and then state troopers, and then Federal agents, and then military officers, from shutting down the scene, tossing out the media and keeping the whole event quiet? Speed of exposure helps. Private property rights help. It might be good to have an attorney on scene, to assist the human coordinator in the initial interactions with authorities. What law says that we can’t have this particular craft land in my yard? How do you know it’s a hazard? The rights of a citizen to property and the lack of military interference inside the U.S. are built into the constitution. That won’t matter if those sentiments are not properly expressed. It also won’t matter unless someone has designed the landing location for easy access to the news media. The media is really hard to shut down when in place. Once the picture is up and the live truck transmitting it will be tough for anyone to make the media leave. And in an interesting twist, the thing that will help all of this is actually the hoax issue. The authorities will be slow to respond at the state and Federal level. While local police have to respond to strange things, like a craft landing in someone’s yard, the state and Federal authorities will have a different level of engagement. They are unlikely to respond in the first hour, or even first couple of hours, unless there is a direct request from the local police. Even then such a reaction would probably happen in a layered approach. The local police would asses and mull over reaction. After the input of many levels of command and perhaps the Mayor, contact may finally be made to state government. This could take an hour or more. If speed of exposure is handled properly there has already been a news conference held on site during this hour. There is also the promise of another flight. Suddenly the venue is changing. Authorities have more matters to consider. The flight of a craft involves the Federal government. But what can they do, the craft is already flying again? The key is to stay several steps ahead of the authorities. Don’t let them assert power in any one location. Keep the location moving. Within all this there has to be reassurances. It is important that any humans involved exude authority and confidence. There will be a careful evaluation of presence of mind and intentions on the part of police responding to the scene. You cannot give them time to assert control. You simply stand up before the assembled media and start talking. You keep the ball moving. You don’t stop to ask permission or questions. Through planning you already know everything you need to know: what altitudes do local aircraft fly? What are the commercial altitudes and flight paths in the city? How do you describe the flight pattern of your alien craft? Every detail has to be planned thoroughly and the process needs to be explained clearly. You need to have an objective and timeline for each part of the process. It needs to flow together naturally and achieve the overall goal.

If it is carried off, First Contact should move quickly and get the real event started. The real event is an alien civilization introducing itself to world government and the people of planet Earth. First Contact merely starts the ball rolling. The elegance of design keeps the ball rolling in the right direction.

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