Tuesday, July 1, 2008

How will the world react?

First Contact will hit the Earth like an information bomb. That bomb will create major problems in some areas of our civilization, while leaving others virtually untouched. The most vulnerable parts of our society will be the ones that change quickly. The world markets would be the first to react. In reality it will be impossible at first to judge which companies and business sectors will benefit from First Contact and which will be hurt. Speculation, though, will begin immediately. That speculation will likely send world markets into a frenzy of activity. This will be a global problem. Because of the interconnected nature of world trading action will need to be taken by the major world economies nearly immediately. Limits on trading and perhaps even closing some markets entirely may be necessary in the initial days after First Contact. In the end, the world economy will have to digest this new information and correct itself as necessary. In the long term that could lead to a world-wide recession as some sectors die and some grow. Probably the biggest winners in the economic shift will be aggressive, smart and small companies who will quickly realize new opportunity. However, you would imagine that giants such as Google and Microsoft will find new ways to prosper After First Contact. Even if there are tight constraints over how much new technological information we receive from the visitors, the very nature of the new universal outlook will create new opportunities for growth.

The world media will also be vulnerable in the aftermath of First Contact and the biggest danger will be misinformation. A revelation the size of First Contact will throw nearly everything we know into question. This is dangerous territory. As we begin to question our place in the universe, we will also begin to question everything we currently know. This will create an atmosphere ripe for fear and speculation. The media will suddenly be thrust into a landscape without familiar landmarks and precedents. The media needs those precedents to control how it reacts to new information. The media is connected much like the world economy. Each news outlet in each country is connected to dozens more in hundreds of other countries. The initial reports of First Contact will travel the Earth in minutes. After First Contact speculation and bad information could do the same. Perhaps a media outlet in India erroneously reports that Aliens have invaded a small town. Then a South African outlet says that people are dying of a strange disease. It won’t take much to get everyone worked up. News operations will have to be extremely vigilant in what they report and how they report it. First Contact will seem to throw all the rules into question. It really doesn’t. All skepticism that was applicable Before First Contact should be used After First Contact. We must view First Contact as an isolated event with a controlled set of circumstances. While the overall effect will seem to be massive in scope, and perhaps in the long term it will be massive, initially First Contact will have little practical impact. If it is carefully controlled it doesn’t really change anything concrete in our world. What has changed is simply in our heads. Our entire perspective of the universe will undergo a massive shift. The practical acts of daily life don’t have to change at all initially.

We must constantly return to this theme. We are like a small boat out on the ocean. The entire sky has changed and yet the waves beneath us and the wind in our sails do not have to be effected. The only way those concrete realities can change is if we change them through our reaction to First Contact. I personally hate the IMAX wide screen movie theaters. They often make me sick. If I go to a show I might enjoy a few minutes of the movie, but when things start to make me queasy I have a solution. I look down from the screen and stare at the floor. Despite the aerial acrobatics up on the screen on the floor everything is the same. As a society we will have to learn to keep turning our collective attention to the floor every now and then to regain perspective. Everything may have changed above us, but below us are still the comforting confines of the Earth, the structure of our society and the common bonds of our families and friends.

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