May 1, 2024 at 2:26 pm

Why Stephen Hawking Thought Trying To Communicate With Aliens Would Be A Bad Idea

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

For most people, the thought of talking to aliens that come down to Earth has been part of our regular lives since forever.

Sure, it could badly, but what if it doesn’t?

One very smart man thought reaching out to whatever or whoever is out there would not work in our favor, though.

So far, NASA has found about 5,000 planets around the Milky Way, and by analyzing the spectrum of light they emit, have identified a few that have possible hints of life.

One of those is dimethyl sulfide, a gas that – one Earth, at least – is only produced by life.

Source: Shutterstock

Physicist Stephen Hawking said in 2015, while launching a project to listen for alien civilizations, that even if we do find life somewhere else, we would do well to steer well clear of trying to start up a conversation.

“We don’t know much about aliens, but we know about humans. If you look at history, contact between humans and less intelligent organisms have often been disastrous from their point of view, and encounters between civilizations with advanced versus primitive technologies have gone badly for the less advanced. A civilization reading one of our messages could be billions of years ahead of us. If so, they will be vastly more powerful, and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.”

This is similar to science fiction author Liu Cixin’s Dark Forest Theory.

In the novel, one character argues that the fact that we’re unsure about the motivations of alien civilizations is reason enough to stay quiet.

It would be like getting dumped in a forest with a bunch of other humans and animals you don’t know. Until you’re sure you can trust them, it would be best if they didn’t know you existed at all.

That said, Hawking doesn’t think there’s any harm in looking.

“We believe that life arose spontaneously on earth, so in an infinite universe, there must be other occurrences of life. Somewhere in the cosmos, perhaps intelligent life might be watching these lights of ours, aware of what they mean. Or do our lights wander a lifeless cosmos, unseen beacons announcing that, here on one rock, the universe discovered its own existence? Either way, there is no better question. It’s time to commit to finding the answer, to search for life beyond Earth. …We are alive. We are intelligent. We must know.”

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It’s possible this will be a moot point, if there are civilizations out there with capabilities as (or more) advanced as our own, they might find us whether we advertise or not.

After all, we can’t exactly turn out the lights and pretend no one is home.

In that case, we have to hope they’re as preoccupied with their own disasters as we are here, with little extra head space to spare in attacking the unknown.

Finger’s crossed.

If you enjoyed that story, check out what happened when a guy gave ChatGPT $100 to make as money as possible, and it turned out exactly how you would expect.