Friday, August 21, 2009

Politics and First Contact

First Contact is one event that might have a chance of escaping the usual national and global political battles…but only for a while. It’s inevitable that any relationship with an extraterrestrial civilization will eventually succumb to politics. It would be interesting to see how that would play out in the United States. Would conservatives be un-welcoming and perhaps hostile to alien visitors? Would liberals be too open and not cautious enough? That might be what you would expect the knee jerk reaction to bring. Over the long term, though the human response may have everything to do with self-interest. Corporations could clamor for open use of alien technology. Cultural groups could complain that a stronger United Nations threatens to erase our cultural differences and make the entire human race the same. Both of those issues are certainly relevant and many such conversations will need to happen. The question is how people handle the debate. Will they fracture into large blocs? Will religion and other more emotional elements of the debate produce animosity and even aggression? There is a point where politics isn’t political anymore. Riots are one example. And of course there is a fine line between protest and rioting, often decided by the reaction of governments.

I would imagine there will be some of all of this in the human response to First Contact. It will be essential that cooler heads bring the debate back to more practical matters. It would be easy to assume that alien contact is the end of our world as we know it, and to put everything in a worst case scenario context. It could also be easy to try to ignore the implications of First Contact. It seems to me that a practical response means taking it step by step. We’ll need to put our global house in order. We’ll need to make arrangements for alien diplomacy and international decision making. If we focus on these very real tasks, perhaps the bigger questions will resolve themselves over time.

Alien Proposal Idea Hello Introduction Space Visitors First Contact Extraterrestrial

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