Aliens may not even realize that humans are living creatures: Scientists have come up with a bold theory

Dmitry IvancheskulLife
Humanity may be mistaken in expecting aliens to be humanoid

Representatives of extraterrestrial life, if it exists of course, may turn out to be so different from what we imagine that when interplanetary contact occurs, they will not even realize that humanity is a highly evolved organism with its own civilization.

This scenario is not as far from reality as you might think, and for Earthlings it is not the worst possible option.

This theory was put forward by bioethicist Konrad Szocik from the University of Information Technology and Management in Rzeszow (Poland) and independent researcher Rakhat Abilkasimova in an article in The International Journal of Astrobiology.

"We were interested in what people thought about extraterrestrial intelligence, especially how they thought such an extraterrestrial intelligence - if it existed and knew of our existence - would represent humanity." Schocik and Abilkasimova told Inverse about the emergence of their theory.

They suggest that first contact with intelligent aliens might reveal that humanity is far behind them technologically, and perhaps also socially and initially intellectually. But the researchers urge earthlings to be prepared for another option, where aliens will be so very different from us that they won't even guess that we too are intelligent beings.

Just like us, only from another planet

According to a common theory among ufologists, any species capable of building spaceships and traveling between star systems will think more or less like us. It would have similar logic, motives, and values, as well as a similar range of emotions.

But Shotsik and Abilkasimova are convinced that there is no real reason why it should be this way, especially since the alien species would come from a planet completely different from Earth.

Researchers point out that animals, which are not self-conscious or have no theory of mind, are no less evolutionarily advanced than humans. It was not evolution that made humans the main difference from animals, but the intelligence that allowed them to survive in a predatory environment. Aliens may also develop their intelligence in the process of evolution, but due to the fact that it will take place in the conditions of a completely different planet, it will be "a very different intelligence than that of the human type.

"And it will probably serve different purposes and tasks than human intelligence," the authors of the article write.

As an example, they cite the human brain and the brain of a crow, which are organized remarkably differently, despite the fact that we are relatively closely related and come from the same planet. Life that originated around a distant sun, on the other hand, may not even recognize our brains as brains (or their local equivalent), let alone that they are intelligent.

The good news/bad news

Shotsik and Abilkasimova believe that their theory has a significant advantage for humanity: if hypothetical aliens will not recognize us as sentient beings, they will also not consider us as a threat to the security of the galaxy. So they will leave us alone.

But it is worth considering other (not always good) news, which will vary from a significant number of alien-related factors: what their nature, values, and motives are.

There is a possibility that the aliens will be humanists and care about life for one reason or another. In that case, not only would they avoid the slightest chance of harming us, but they would take care not to bring alien germs here during their visits to Earth. Just as humanity follows rules to avoid bringing Earth germs to Mars. In addition, as the researchers point out, the alien species may have very different ideas about benefits and harms.

The bad news for humanity may be that aliens will not care about humans at all if they realize that the planet can be used for their own benefit. In that case, they won't even care if the landing of their ship completely destroys a small city. In the same way that humans don't worry about destroying insect colonies.

"In this scenario, human deaths would be an accidental consequence of extraterrestrial intelligence's movement around Earth and its eventual exploitation," the authors of the article write.

This scenario may seem cruel from humanity's point of view, but humanity itself has done much the same thing for much of its history as it reclaimed a place to live from animals.

The Mirror Test

Scientists who study the intelligence and self-awareness of other animals use a mirror to assess their capabilities. In such a test, they draw a red dot on the animal's body and then place it in front of a mirror. It is thought that an animal conscious of seeing itself in the mirror will be interested in the dot on its body (but not its reflection).

But as science writer Virginia Morell points out, the problem with the test is that it is designed for creatures that rely on vision and have hands, so dogs and cats usually fail such a test. Morell explains that the signs of intelligence that people look for are based on our own biases.

At the same time, aliens with very different senses and a different mindset may also have a mirror test for humanity. And what a result we might achieve if, for example, they would expect us to see a dot in the ultraviolet or hear sound at frequencies we are incapable of perceiving.

"In a sense, thinking about extraterrestrial intelligence says a lot about how we perceive ourselves as humanity. Theoretically, a situation in which someone 'better' than us, that is, an extraterrestrial intelligence, treats us worse, even if unintentionally, simply because we do not possess a certain trait, might provide some inspiration for a more tolerant and inclusive approach both between humans and toward animals," Shotsik and Abilkasimova summarized their work.

OBOZREVATEL reported earlier on the theory of scientists from NASA, who voiced a crushing theory as to why aliens have not yet come into contact with humanity.

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