When we really meet with them, chances are that our most distinguished and articulate people capable of the job will not be there. It could be, for better or for worse, someone like you. Whoever is lucky or scared enough to be in the right time at the right place, they’ll need a cool head in order to enable clear thinking communication. We need to ‘filter’ our spacezoid guests in order to understand them, and ultimately us.
We on earth are like the poor family on the street that is the last to have everything: The last to embrace new cool technology, fashion, art and helpful kitchen appliances, because we’re just lagging behind, like the dumbest kid in the classroom, who will never pick up the advanced stuff (like travelling through worm holes – what civilisation hasn’t mastered that after 5,000,000 years of seasoned space travel?). Our exploits are practically nil compared to the interstellar civilisation that manages to get here, and upon meeting them here, we have to ask ourselves what are their intentions? This is not so easy, but the answer does surface once you have some evidence about the visitor.
Expect initial communication to be tiresome. First of all, if they haven’t studied up any of the world’s major languages, we’re at a loss. If we start on an even playing field, we’ll have to cooperate to develop the tools (probably a piece of software) to enable us to connect. And with any tool, there are bugs, leading to communication problems. In any case, the forestalment of communication creates time in which a bond can be built, so hopefully after we’ve worked out what they’re on about, they don’t feel like eating us anyway.
What we need to ask them is our filtering method to gauge exactly what we mean to them.Where are you from and how far have you travelled?
A sense of location and distance may not be of any consequence because we may have no idea of where their starting point is, other than as a dot of light amid a shimmering sea of stars in some murky corner of the galaxy our humble Hubble Telescope hasn’t got around to viewing because its funding was allocated to some charity pit in Africa. In any case, they need to be from somewhere and we’ll need to record that. If they answer, “Oh, we’re from Mars” then we must respond, “Oh, yes we knew that... Um what we meant was where on Mars. North or south of the equator? How is the weather there this time of year?”Of the duration of you journey here and back to your home, how much is that of a proportion to your expected life time?
Get this question sorted out straight away. The old sea faring explorers and traders sailing around the world could expect to be away for three years, and in those days life expectancy was a lot lower too, not to mention the success rate of such voyages. Death on the voyage might be 50%, and the voyage might take 10% of your life, or even 20% of your working life. That’s bravery.
In our merry lives, to take a jumbo jet to the other side of the world (2 days), and then travel by car to a remote destination (3 days) and then hike to an extremely remote destination (2 days) and stay there for a week, and then go home, the same way would equal three weeks. If you can expect to live 82.5 years, then a three week exploration, though a highlight of your life, can never really compare to a three year voyage (into the real unknown) that your forefathers may have signed up to, or been press-ganged into.
If we identify that a visiting party of Aliens have invested their life in a visit to us, our respect and gratitude to them must be withheld until we clarify: But are you just robots?Are you just Robots?
“Good question!” will probably be the response, “But don’t insult us!”
Although to us a Yes (do you run on batteries) / No (must have been a long trip, here have a beer) answer would suffice, the reality may be something completely different. An advanced species would clone or manufacture their best for a Mission to Earth. However, a Robot Alien might just as easily judge us as Robot Humans, judging by our predominantly template habits. They can easily argue that there are simply not that many truly creative and competent people on our earth to justify that we are totally beyond robotic behaviour.How many of you exist, and what proportion of you travel this far?
Earth has a population of 7 billion. Twelve of them have kicked dust on the Moon. Maybe another 500 have been in space, either as astronauts or space tourists. Space travel of any kind is rare. For an Alien Species, they may live in space, they may colonise space, and would therefore have a higher number of space faring citizens (if they are all citizens – some could very well be slaves). Perhaps they are like us, space travel is rare, therefore the meeting is very unique. However, if all of them embark on space travel, perhaps the visitor has simply lost his way, stumbled upon earth, and hasn’t worked out what to do. Perhaps it is a she, on the run from the police. Half our luck.How do you travel? Can I look under the hood?
Interstellar notions of benevolence may crumble at this question.
“Sorry earthlings, we can’t show you what motors our cigar shaped space ship. Besides, you wouldn’t understand it.”
“Understand it or not, we want one.”
And from here on it gets tricky. Are they here to offer us a temporary or a permanent ride off our planet to explore the cosmos, or are they visiting a poor neighbourhood in a Rolls-Royce because they can. A transfer of advanced technology could wreak damage to humanity, so any intelligent species has to think cautiously about letting us play with their ray guns.Who else is out there?
An obvious question but the nature of how we ask it can tell way too much about ourselves. We want to know, but we don’t want them to know that we’re the last to know of all that’s out there. It’s a bit like looking around the poker table to see who the sucker is, and if you can’t work out who it is, then it’s you. We’ll be taking Game Theory to the inter-galactic level. Will we be ashamed of our innocence or act the social butterfly, “So, tell me Alien Visitor, what do you really think of the other interstellar civilisations?”
“Which one are you referring to, earthling?”
“Um, my neighbours?”
“We are your neighbours.”
“Oh. So... Seen any new black holes recently? Fascinating, are they not?”Can you lend me some money, or, do you want a loan?
There’s no better way to shore up a relationship than to make it contractual, and as money has greased so many of the wheels that have carried our civilisation this far, keep the wagon going! By elevating Earth-to-Alien communication to a commercial relationship we are, in their minds, not just potentially the last planet to lend money to in the known universe, but expressing an interest in the wider universe. We must offer commerce on a wider scale, other than that of some basic battering we’ve seen between 18th Century explorers and native populations of untamed wildernesses. Scale-up our deals, even to our detriment – it can only speed up the ultimate consequence. Look at the financial calamity in the early 21st century: The high profile borrowers gained more prestige and power.
Perhaps the most grandiose position is to offer to lend money to a visitor from space. Detractors of cash-for-alien-contacts may cry and wail and beat their little fists on the girly chests, “Really, do you think money will be important to a species 1 billion years old?” but who cares? It’s important to us, so let’s share it. Share it all around the universe, print as much of it as possible – it’s what our governments do anyway.
The mental walls that keep us in, keeps ‘them’ out, so before we can see them we have to see ourselves in a new light. History has shown that an outside fear can act as a catalyst to unite and accomplish great things, so perhaps the best thing that can happen to earth is bad diplomacy with aliens.
It is plausible that there is an alien drone, possibly dormant (sleeping on the job if it is a government drone) and slowly waking up to our technological advances. It’s also possible an alien species has sent a mother ship to our solar system, parked it out of sight (like on the other side of the sun) and sends what we call UFOs down to check on our progress. How do we respond? With scrambled fighter jets, frothing internet forums, denial, cover ups, creative meanderings, some very non-creative speculation, and then the issue dies away as something closer to home drains our attention, like a celebrity divorce or a clash of barbarians in the Middle East.
We should be interested, but most of us are not. We should be rational, but some of us need the entertainment. We will face up to an alien species looking down on us, and perhaps our inability to prepare ourselves will be the shock required to wake us up. Our lack of diplomacy and tact may trigger us into a new awareness. The unintended consequence of an alien visitation will be a change in ourselves – the ultimate checking (as in a slap on the face) of our inter-galactic innocence.
Copyright 2014 Simon Drake
Simon Drake.com contains information about my science fiction and non-fiction, (including where to paperbacks and ebooks), plus some short fiction.