Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Hybrid Model for First Contact

Extraterrestrial Contact

This blog assumes many things. Most importantly it is based on the idea that an alien society has traveled to our solar system and wants to say hello. I know, this is far-fetched, and most likely not the case, however it is what interests me.

My very first entry on this blog was a proposal for extraterrestrial First Contact relying on an event based strategy. The idea is simple: You land an extraterrestrial craft on Earth in a way that can attract immediate media attention.

The reason for using the event based approach is to bypass possible government intervention and secrecy. The main force behind this plan is the leveraging of broadcast news competiveness and satellite technology. The goal is to provide an introduction for all people of the world. The original plan is called “The First Contact Proposal.”

Over the last two years I have come to develop new ideas. I believe there is one major weakness to an event based strategy: surprise. The event model uses surprise to bypass government intervention. And that surprise could also prove dangerous. A military commander or even a lone pilot could make a bad decision in the face of a surprising event. There have been a number of post 9/11 incidents that show this not to be necessarily a concern. Fighter pilots faced with unusual flight situations have shown a remarkable level of restraint and thoughtfulness. Still, a dramatic First Contact event would be on a scale well beyond the level of an errant aircraft. There are also many government agencies that could react poorly to a surprising event, and in a number of dangerous ways.

There is a way to reduce the level of surprise. I call it the Hybrid Model for First Contact. The idea is to combine the SETI protocol system into Direct First Contact. SETI assumes that any extraterrestrial civilization is still quite far away. This is a more likely scenario, given the vast distances in space and the fact that reaching the Earth would require technology that could not exist given our current scientific laws.

So how can SETI help in Direct First Contact? The extraterrestrial visitors would do something entirely unnecessary: back up and send a message. How far do they need to back up? That would be a question for the SETI researchers. It would be a point in our solar system from which a message could not be confused as coming from a human source.

Here’s the how the hybrid model would work:

You combine a SETI receivable message beamed from space, with a Direct First Contact event here on Earth. 24 hours before the direct event the extraterrestrials would send a signal to Earth, one that would be picked up by our current radio telescope arrays. This might not be easy, since those researchers are looking for signals in distant star systems. You would need to determine exactly what type of signal to use, where to place that signal, and how to ensure a SETI researcher on Earth would pick up that signal quickly.

The message would be in English and describe everything that is about to happen, down to the smallest detail. It’s basically a courtesy message to tell humans exactly what is going to occur during the Direct First Contact event.
Once received, the message will go through the established SETI protocol of confirmation and notification. That notification will allow researchers and governments to work together in a unified way. Most importantly it will allow the world military systems to be on alert and yet not jumpy. As long as the alien craft follows the exact pattern described in the message, there should be no need for anyone to get excited and do something stupid.

The Direct First Contact event is the way of ensuring that no one government will have control over First Contact. They are aware, but they cannot intervene and make the process secret. All goals can be accomplished.

Read more about the event based strategy in The First Contact Proposal

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