When We Find Aliens


Let’s say our search for signs of extra-terrestrial life finds something this year. What would be the effect on humanity? There are many first-contact type movies, but I am wondering about the scenario where the sign of life is only detected by us from afar, we don’t know if it’s aware of our existence, we understand it in a very limited way and we can’t go there any time soon.

For the purpose of this exploration let us consider three situations: the distant life forms are at an evolutionary stage about 500 million years earlier than ours, or they are at about the same stage as we are, or they are unfathomably ahead.

If the alien life is primordial, we may:

  • Carry on, as usual, fighting among ourselves
  • Carry on, as usual, ruining the planet
  • Feel superior and unique, at least for a while
  • Look at the distant world as a way out of extinction
  • Credit our Gods with even more than the usual and extend their scope vastly

If the alien life seems very much like ours, we could

  • Feel a completely new sense of oneness as Earthlings
  • Ruin our planet even faster, knowing it is not so special
  • Feel tremendous curiosity but little fear, knowing that visitation is unlikely
  • Try to signal friendship in case they can save us from extinction one day, but warily as they may be expecting the same
  • Wonder if the discovery shows our Gods and faiths as just expedient

If the intelligence appears to be very advanced, perhaps we will

  • Become united forever more
  • Take care of our planet better, knowing there is much to look forward to
  • Feel very small, backward and quite afraid of contact
  • Try not to draw attention till we know more and quietly try to learn, learn, learn by observation and catch up with them
  • Wonder if they are the Gods we believe in

How exciting, can’t wait! What’s that on the TV now?! It can’t be, no, it is…wow, Hubble’s detected something, and it seems to be coming from…..