Change would be inevitable in the wake of any alien First Contact situation. The more interaction with aliens, the more change would be created in human society. The more information we receive about the universe, and the alien perspective on the universe, the more we would have to reconsider in our own science, culture and institutions. I am not suggesting that we would need to conform to an alien way of thinking. I am suggesting that new information, as it is digested and then fit into our own perspective, would lead to change in human society.
Change can certainly be beyond our control. Were aliens to flood our society with advanced information about physics, the entire scientific paradigm would undergo seismic shifts, if not paradigm explosions. The problem with massive paradigm change is that we would have a hard time controlling the outcome. I think that there are two basic states that regulate change in human society: conflict and harmony. Conflict is usually perceived as a negative state and harmony a positive state. I would argue that both have negative and positive qualities. Understanding them could be important to mapping a path for humanity in the wake of First Contact.
Conflict can create new ideas, help us respond to challenges, fix problems and set new priorities. It seems to me that those are positive qualities. The conflict of Civil Rights protests in the 1960s in America or the Indian statehood conflict under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi are two examples. On the negative side, conflict can tear down structures, cause pain and death, allow selfishness to rule, use up resources and threaten family and social structures. War is an example of negative conflict. There is, of course, a blurring of lines in regards to conflict. Sometimes positive developments come from negative conflict. The development of the computer, thanks in large part to work in decoding during WW Two, is an example.
Harmony, on the positive end of the spectrum, cultivates cooperation, allows humans to work for the greater good, builds lasting structures and provides for the efficient use of resources. Government, when it is working correctly, is an example of positive harmony. It would be easy to assume that harmony is always good. On the negative side, harmony can curb independent thinking, cause people to resist necessary change, create an environment that makes it tough to respond to challenges, allow problems to fester and cause bigger problems through a failure to respond to threats. This is often called Group Think- a state where a group of people, in an effort to be harmonious and not have conflict, ignore important considerations or don’t bring up controversial ideas, to stay in the good graces of the group.
In the wake of First Contact, conflict and harmony will allow us to navigate dangerous waters while still moving forward. We cannot be afraid of conflict after alien First Contact. The debate about how humans should respond to aliens will be important. It will allow us to assess threats and opportunities and stimulate action. Controlling conflict would be important. The debate could easily grow out of control and turn into violence. Leaders would need to provide a platform for discussion and debate and make sure that platform, and all decisions made in response to alien contact, are completely transparent. There should be very few behind doors meetings. We have the technology now to share any meeting with the entire world via the Internet. The debate would need to be structured around the most important needs of the moment. That would have to be established by some sort of international group, such as the United Nations. There would need to be a well-established pathway outlined to make sure humanity keeps moving forward. We would need to utilize conflict to create new ideas and set new priorities. If we were to let conflict control us, it could have devastating consequences.
Harmony will allow humans to work together to achieve goals in response to alien contact. It requires us to look out for the greater good and push away selfish inclinations. Harmony can help to calm fears and create safety for humans.
So, how do you accomplish positive conflict and harmony in the wake of First Contact? Leaders will need to bring many diverse voices into the debate. This will provide us with a wider range of ideas from which to choose the best path. Small groups, coordinated by international leadership, would need to start the process, most likely made up of people who have expertise in the consideration of alien contact issues. This is a very small group indeed. Hopefully, though, other experts, in other fields, will soon catch up to help in areas such as economics, religion, politics and international relations.
These smaller groups should make use of public opinion. It will be imperative that world polling organizations work overtime to gauge public sentiment, across many nations and cultures, on a regular basis. Human sentiment should not be used as an indicator of what to do next, but rather inform experts as to the issues the wider population is considering. At first it may be fear, but the questions raised by quality polling would show experts how best to move forward to respond to those fears. umahu
Human perspective is likely to change quickly in the wake of First Contact. That perspective will need to be considered and an action plan developed to move forward.
You may notice that I have frequently used the phrase “move forward.” It would be easy for human conflict to lead to inaction and a stagnating battle of wills. This cannot be allowed to happen. Leaders will need to be prepared to take bold action if it does occur. This may seem like contradiction to the idea of public participation and debate. One could liken the problem to a traffic jam caused by a car accident. You have to confront and resolve the car accident to get traffic moving again. The long-term goal is for everyone to travel the highway together, but in the short term, there may be a need to resolve problems which are slowing the process.
Progress in humanity is often a stuttering process, with many starts and stops. We usually take the hard road to any goal. There can be many negative things that occur on the path to something better. We can’t expect the decision-making process in the wake of alien First Contact to be any different. We will have to put in the hard work and work together in order to achieve a positive future for humanity After First Contact.