Motivation is something I have discussed frequently on this blog. If First Contact occurs because extraterrestrials are simply responding to our electromagnetic signals beaming through space, their only motivation might be to say hello. However, if an extraterrestrial civilization initiates First Contact there will probably be a more complex reason for them doing so. If they didn’t have a reason for contacting us, then they would simply leave us alone, which could very well be the current situation.
A motivation naturally leads to some sort of agenda for carrying out what they hope to accomplish with First Contact. Their objective, and the subsequent agenda of First Contact, could be quite benign. It could be a simple matter of scientific curiosity. They could also be trying to educate us, enlarge our perspective or make us aware of a danger. The agenda could be more controlling in nature. They may want to impact how we handle technology or treat our environment. Perhaps they think we should change our religions, or even our forms of government. How controlling are they? Do we consider it interference? How do we make sure we control the situation? What if we don’t agree with them? I think these are all legitimate questions in any First Contact scenario.
We can’t afford as a civilization to head into such a dramatic set of events in a naïve manner. Caution and careful consideration would be critical. True critical thinkers will of course point out that all of these possibilities are anthropomorphic. It’s quite possible that extraterrestrials would have a motivation, an objective and agenda that we cannot fathom. They might understand the universe in ways that we cannot even conceive of, and thus their motivation is beyond our comprehension.
So, do we give up and hide under the covers and hope that the aliens go away? I would be willing to bet that there are some in human society who actually suggest such a thing in the wake of First Contact. Clearly that isn’t a rational response. Once the veil is lifted humans will have no choice but to confront the challenges that come with First Contact. We can’t lose sight of the opportunities as well. While the alien agenda might seem negative in nature, it could just as well be positive. They may truly want to help us develop as a civilization and provide information that helps us better understand the physical world around us.
The only real solution to the alien agenda is questioning. We need to question every action and take a critical look at every step we take. It may not be rational to hide under the covers and hope they go away. It’s just as nuts to throw open our arms and let extraterrestrials do as they please. A little paranoia can go a long way.