Monday, May 22, 2017

Extraterrestrial Contact: The Way Things are Right Now

Things are a little different on planet Earth these days and if anyone wants to say hello, they need to pay attention. Human social and political dynamics should be a concern for any extraterrestrial group attempting to make Direct First Contact. I define Direct First Contact as aliens coming to our solar system, or planet Earth itself, to say hello. Why should they bother with trying to understand how our society works? If they want to make contact they would have a reason for doing so. Understanding our society would be critical to them carrying out their agenda, whatever it may be. Human social and political dynamics are particularly volatile right now. In one moment US relations with China appear to be deteriorating and in the next strengthened. Russia is the reverse situation, at least as far as we can tell given the current rhetoric. All of this would have a direct impact on how humans respond to a big alien introduction. If humans are confused by what is happening on planet Earth right now, imagine how extraterrestrials would consider the current state of international relations?

So, what advice would I give aliens interested in contacting humans, given current conditions?

Human fear would be a real issue in any First Contact situation. Some national leaders may find it necessary to resort to military threat to appease a worried population or gain control. Aliens would need to be prepared for this and ready to stay the course. Appealing to the entire international community makes it less likely a nation would go rogue and threaten military action.  There are ways to lessen the likelihood of such reactions. Threat is often heightened by location. An alien craft in Earth orbit would be considered a threat to Earth satellites and every nation on Earth. An alien craft landing in a particular country would be considered a direct threat to the leaders in that nation. Most human governments have multiple levels, from local to regional and national. Any of those levels could take aggressive action, if the situation is not well managed. A problem at any level could set up a chain-reaction of aggressive behavior. I stress that the situation could be managed, but only with an elegant process. All actions taken by the visitors should be communicated ahead of time. After the initial contact, which should be controlled by aliens, humans should be allowed to determine their own process for moving forward. Aliens could suggest ideas, but humans must have the autonomy to do what they want, collectively, as one planet.

Aliens would want to stay out of security entanglements, such as entering secure computer systems or intercepting communications. If they decided to land on Earth they would want to avoid capital cities and military installations. They would also want to pick a stable nation that is aligned with the international community. A major consideration would be the transparency of such a hello. Hidden actions could lead to mistrust and fear. Aliens would need to find a way to reach all humans at once with a message of introduction. Playing favorites with particular nations could cause global stress, especially right now. Aliens would want to make their intentions clear and have simple guidelines for the process, such as how they would like to communicate and with whom. It is likely that many nations would try to contact visiting aliens directly to gain advantage. Aliens would have to realize that this could have a disastrous impact on human society. Impartiality would be a prudent approach to keep humans from fighting with each other.

International relations may seem especially confusing on Earth recently. However, the basic institutions that hold together our human civilization are still strong. Aliens would need to understand those human systems and design a First Contact to match their alien needs. And hopefully those alien needs would match our human needs. Aliens with hidden agendas, and devious intentions, are another matter entirely. In any case, a united human response would be critical for our civilization.

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