April 26, 2010

Super-genius Hawking evokes "Independence Day" theme

I found this fascinating -- and highly unlikely:

... a few life forms could be intelligent and pose a threat. Hawking believes that contact with such a species could be devastating for humanity.

He suggests that aliens might simply raid Earth for its resources and then move on: “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.”

He concludes that trying to make contact with alien races is “a little too risky”. He said: “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

Look, obviously Hawking is insanely brilliant, but why would aliens -- a la those from "Independence Day" -- seek to strip our planet of its resources ... when WE'VE been plundering them for, like, ever?? Colonization, maybe. But resources? That's silly -- especially since needed resources are available much more cheaply in space. Comets for water. Asteroids for metals and minerals.

In addition, a civilization that possesses technology far in advance of our own is likely (not definitely) to have a moral code that is also in advance of our own. In other words, they wouldn't arbitrarily seek to exterminate us. They wouldn't need to (at least not right away) -- their technology would prevent any perceived threat to them. On the other hand, if by some chance a civilization came upon an advanced technology that was superior to their own (very often speculated on in science fiction -- see the Gateway series, the Kzin in Larry Niven's "Known Space" stories, Niven and Jerry Pournelle's Footfall, and Marvel Comics' Kree race, to name just a scant few), their moral code might be "deficient" when they begin journeying to the stars, and hence might not be ready (or willing) to handle encountering another intelligent species.

Most likely, in my opinion, is what the late Carl Sagan noted in his classic Cosmos: That two interstellar civilizations, should they actually happen to meet, will most certainly be quite divergent in terms of technological prowess. There will not be a Milky Way inhabited, for instance, by the technologically equal Federation of Planets, Klingon Empire, Romulan Star Empire, and Cardassian Union!

Posted by Hube at April 26, 2010 04:28 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

not so sure about the assumed kindness of "advanced" aliens.

Man's limited forays into space were the byproduct of military conflict (US/Soviet)

Our current left leaning government is attempting to kill space exploration.

I don't think it is a streach to think that a space exploring raced may be looking for new worlds to conchor.

Posted by: anonni at May 1, 2010 03:20 PM

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