If an alien civilization had the technology to travel to our solar system they would be, by default, more technologically advanced than us. What concerns does that present for humans? I think it goes well beyond the alien invader speculation that Hollywood loves so much (frankly, I don’t think they even care about aliens, just the premise it provides for blowing stuff up and special effects). There could be much easier ways to control the human race.
Probably more effective, and a lot less costly, would be a vicious computer virus that would shut down the Internet. At this point in our history that one action could plunge our world into chaos. An organized attack on our electric grid could do even worse. Such catalysts could send us into our own self-destructive reactions- institutional collapse and violence.
Aliens with advanced technology could attempt to impact our civilization in many more subtle ways. If they have robust data manipulation abilities they could use our own data to predict future human actions and developments. This could also present them with ways to subtly push our actions in certain directions.
Look at our fragile world economy. A sneeze in the European Union (okay, a big sneeze) causes our 401-Ks to lose thousands of dollars overnight (for those of us lucky enough to still have such things). The world is growing closer each year in economic interdependence. Manipulation of our economic system via computers could be a way to not only disrupt human civilization, but perhaps with subtle manipulation, force it in certain directions. Gentle pushes here and there could be the most dangerous, because we might never know they are occurring.
I’m not suggesting that this type of thing is currently happening. I don’t think aliens have visited Earth or attempted any type of First Contact. There is no valid evidence of such things and until presented with such, I’ll be keeping these beliefs.
Still, that doesn’t mean it’s not an issue worth considering for the future. The militaries of countries across the globe would probably go on high alert in a First Contact situation. It would behoove us to have a similar vigilance with our economic links, Internet security and other technological systems. It would be a while after First Contact, perhaps a long-while, before we could truly understand alien intentions and motivations. A little prudence could go a long way in the meantime.
What do you think? Am I being paranoid? Join the conversation on the Alien First Contact Facebook page.