There are so many possible scenarios for extraterrestrial First Contact (if it ever happens at all) that it’s tough to talk about whom on Earth might benefit from such an occurrence, let alone whether there would be any benefit at all. It could very well be a primarily negative outcome for humanity.
Let’s try to narrow the field a bit to a specific type of First Contact: high-information sharing. This scenario assumes that aliens are friendly and communicate with us in some manner. They provide us with a large amount of information about them and what they have learned about the universe. Who could benefit from such information?
Academics might be the first line of response. Deciphering extraterrestrial knowledge, even if it was presented in a human language, would likely take many years and much study. Current academic fields would need to respond and then grow into new academic specialties. This would create incredible opportunity for scientists, researchers and professors, at least those who are creative and flexible enough to respond to alien information. Universities with top academics could become incredibly important in the wake of First Contact. Research money would likely pour in from many sources. The danger is how responsive the academic community is to change. Only those institutions and individuals with the vision to see how paradigms could shift and be re-imagined would benefit. And even then, those academics would need great fortitude to endure the massive upheaval such paradigm change would bring.
Corporations and businesses of all sorts could benefit greatly from information about technology. Such information could spur new enterprises and entirely new technological fields. Even a small bit of revolutionary information could cause us to reconsider our current systems of knowledge, bringing about innovation. Clearly businesses that are successful in reacting quickly to such information would benefit. Once again, progressive and fast-acting businesses will rule the day. Others may be quickly left behind.
Investors could find lucrative new economic market growth areas. This could lead to market swings as speculation follows the latest news and information. Perhaps old technology would see a decline as new fields developed. These market fluctuations could be especially hard on the more rigid investments, especially massive retirement funds.
The working and middle classes globally might not experience much benefit from First Contact in the early months and years of discovery. Extraterrestrial information, especially complicated ideas, might be difficult to understand, especially for those without formalized education. Market swings and changes in the economy could be difficult for the working and middle classes. While one would hope that advances in technology would eventually help all of humanity, it might be a tough road in getting to that point.
Governments with the educational and technological infrastructure to capitalize on new information could do well after high-information First Contact. Governments without such an infrastructure will be in trouble. This, combined with market shifts and other economic changes, could make the gulf between the developed world and third world nations even greater. This, in turn, could lead to unrest and troubled international relations as nations struggle to find a place in the new world.
The overall impact of high information First Contact could be a race of sorts. Everyone will try to figure out what will happen next and how it might impact humans. The gulf between the educated and non-educated, the involved and the uninvolved, the adaptable and the rigid, may grow to a point where it becomes a major world issue. This is just one reason why I believe that everyone in the world should feel like an active participant in First Contact and the resulting information that may come from a relationship with an extraterrestrial civilization. Governments, higher education institutions, scientific bodies and the media must work together to educate the entire human populace and explain information. There has to be buy-in from the masses that this is something bigger than all of us – the future of human civilization is at stake. Those alive when First Contact occurs will be a bridge generation- those who knew life before First Contact and lived to experience life After First Contact. There is a great responsibility that comes with that unique standing in history. People at the cusp of alien interaction must work together to keep humans moving in the right direction. The greatest danger from First Contact might not be marauding aliens, but rather dangerous divisions between humans.
This is more than just a public relations campaign. It should be a fundamental re-thinking of the world. All humans should have the right to information, education and access to the public discourse. Our technology demands it. This is a movement that is occurring now, without us knowing if intelligent extraterrestrials even exist. It will become the central issue in the wake of First Contact.
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