Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.
― Arthur C. Clarke
If there wasn’t life (not only intelligent ones, but any kind) out there in the cosmos, we would never be able to figure it out. This is simply internal to the searching process: we already know there are many many galaxies as far as billion light years away and they are already moving faster and faster away from each other. This means even if we had the ability to move as fast as light speed, we would need billions of billions of years to search every corner of the universe, rest, stop searching, and announce that “we are alone in the universe” and start to live with the fact. So try it or not, the possibility of being alone in the universe will change nothing in the course of our lives except the money and energy we have to spend for nothing. If it’s terrifying, so be it. We have to accept the possibility right now and should not care about it at all; it’s the other side of the coin that matters: what if there is life out there?
If the other life form(s) existing in the cosmos is not intelligent (yet) we just can logically keep out of reach of their jaws and stay alive; we can ignore them, they won’t be very scary. So it’s obvious the intelligent form(s) of life are the ones we have to face carefully.
From our experience, intelligence is both healthy/useful and harmful. There are lots of evidence for this fact and I won’t get into more details. Immediately we should think of a survival plan. This topic needs a lot of discussion and a discourse, but here are some of my suggestions for the tools we may need:
- In case of weapons, probably the ones we evolve for killing humans in a more accurate way are enough!
- Language and generally a form of communication: This could be some new form of spoken language but I think every form of communication needs protocols and if we want to define a protocol we need a language. To resolve the paradox we have to delegate the job to machines on both sides. Machines “who” have the ability to learn, can interact faster, more accurate and evolve harmlessly in order to define a protocol. Think of robot negotiators and real “smart”-phones that can make the calls. I don’t believe math, physics and other science be uniquely universal.
- Politics: The surviving alternative plan to wars is dialogue. Politics is the science and art of managing the dynamics of power and it can lead the parties through the dialogue.
- Peace and bravery: If we were the ones who made the first contact, we have to nurture the other life, we already have lost many lives in extinctions, wars, conflicts, disease, and etc. That’s more than enough of possibility loss already. But if they started the game, of course we can think of them as superior beings, but also have to be both peaceful and brave. Just think of a wild animal which gets killed by a human. It’s either because it’s attacking the human for some stupid reason or it’s terrified and acting foolishly which we don’t understand in times.
What do you think? What could happen in first contact?