Friday, June 26, 2009

The Bridge Generation

First Contact will come with some unique challenges. The humans who will bear the brunt of this social, psychological and scientific burden will be the Bridge Generation. Those alive when (and if) First Contact occurs will have to live in two worlds: one before First Contact and one after First Contact. It may seem like an obvious statement, but think of the profound difference. The Bridge Generation will have grown up, received education and taken a place in society all based on a broad set of assumptions. After First Contact many of those assumptions will prove to be wrong, or at least not complete. First Contact will mean that we are not alone. It will broaden our conception of the universe in a single, startling event. It will call into question the very pillars of our culture, religion and science.

The Bridge Generation won’t have much time to stop and contemplate those changes. They will have to move quickly in the aftermath of First Contact to establish a new framework for the sciences. They will make decisions about exactly how the relationship with an extraterrestrial neighbor will progress. Massive changes to our system of world government will have to be considered immediately. Substantive changes will have to occur quickly thereafter.

The Bridge Generation will find themselves shot of out a cannon into a new era. Subsequent generations will have the luxury of growing up with the concept of a larger intelligent universe. They will be able to adjust and perfect systems of world government, and fine tune the relationship with extraterrestrials.

It will be a tremendous responsibility for the Bridge Generation. There is nothing to say that a relationship with an extraterrestrial civilization will necessarily progress well. Mistakes will be made. Social unrest and global economic crises are possible. Major shifts in world politics are inevitable.

Are we ready? Probably not. However, humans do exhibit an amazing resiliency under intense circumstances. Look at how nations have rebuilt themselves after crushing wars and natural disasters. Crisis often leads to our finest moments here on Earth.
Who knows when, or if, the Bridge Generation will be called to action. The only way to help them is to have a rational and comprehensive discussion of the consequences of First Contact. I know it’s an incredibly unlikely event. But we prepare for earthquakes, tsunamis and other unlikely events. The impact of First Contact would be more than a 1000 of those natural disasters all rolled into one. How could we not prepare for an event that would be the most significant in human history? The Bridge Generation deserves at least a little thought now, before the universe opens a door and we step into a new era.

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