First contact with aliens could end in genocide: humanity has been asking for it for a long time
The first contact of mankind with representatives of extraterrestrial civilisation can be anything, depending on who leads the Earth's representatives, but in the end, it will most likely end in genocide committed by representatives of a more advanced race. The history of human discovery of new lands and continents fully confirms this theory.
This statement was made by representatives of a working group that spoke at a seminar related to the SETI project, which is searching for alien life. David Delgado Shorter, Professor of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at the University of California, Kim Tallbear, Professor of Indigenous Studies at the University of Alberta, and William Lempert, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Bowdoin College, wrote in an article for The Conversation.
First of all, they called for a recognition that first contact with alien life is actually already underway, as "we see first contact not so much as an event as a long process that has already begun".
They also drew attention to the issue of ethics, which is something that few people think about in the search for aliens. According to the authors of the article, the search for aliens is usually carried out either by the military or by researchers with a technical education, so it is simply not their place to think about the moral side of this issue.
The situation will not be any better if the first contact with extraterrestrial intelligence is established by representatives of private companies, which have already begun to obtain permits for space tourism and future mining on space bodies.
Meanwhile, according to scientists, the first contact scenario may include:
- finding artifacts of extraterrestrial beings;
- detection of signals from thousands of light years away;
- overcoming language incompatibility;
- searching for microbial organisms in space or on other planets, and biological contamination of their or our species.
Each of these options for first contact requires the right ethical approach, so it is crucial that it is carried out by people who are trained not only to find aliens, but also to convey human values and convince them that we are a peaceful and friendly species.
It is precisely with peacefulness and benevolence, as the article points out, that problems may arise, since we have already crossed the ethical line and are listening to and spying on our space neighbours without even knowing whether they like it or want to be spied on. At the same time, SETI does not understand "what harm can be done by simply listening" and defends its own methods.
"Our working group drew on the history of colonial contact to show the dangers of assuming that entire civilisations are relatively advanced or intelligent. For example, when Christopher Columbus and other European explorers arrived in the Americas, these relationships (with the indigenous population - Ed.) were shaped by the preconceived notion that the "Indians" were less developed because they had no written language. This led to decades of slavery of Native Americans," the scientists said in a statement.
They also emphasise that the act of listening in itself is already a "phase of contact".
"Like colonialism itself, contact is best seen as a series of events that begins with planning, rather than a single event. From this perspective, isn't potential warrantless listening another form of surveillance? It seems contradictory that we begin our relationship with foreigners with warrantless wiretapping while at the same time actively working to prevent other countries from listening to certain American communications. If humans are initially perceived as disrespectful or uncaring, contact with them could lead to aliens colonising us," the scientists emphasise.
The researchers also note that "throughout the history of Western colonisation, even in the few instances where those who made contact intended to protect, contact led to brutal violence, pandemics, enslavement and genocide" of local populations.
As an example, they mentioned James Cook's voyage on the Endeavour in 1768, which was initiated by the Royal Society. The purpose of this voyage was exclusively scientific and Cook was strictly forbidden to engage in any colonial activity.
But, in the end, it ended in the large-scale colonisation and eviction of indigenous peoples throughout Oceania, including the violent conquests of Australia and New Zealand.
"The history of imperialism and colonialism on Earth illustrates that not everyone benefits from colonisation. No one can know for sure how the interaction with aliens will end, although it is better to consider cautionary tales from Earth's own history sooner rather than later," the scientists concluded.
Earlier, OBOZREVATEL also reported on a bold theory by scientists who suggested that humans and aliens may be so different from each other that an alien species would not even understand that earthlings are living beings.