Some words of wisdom re SETI

An article in BBC News has a thoughtful wrinkle relating to the ongoing SETI efforts to communicate with alien species (alien not meaning the folks on the other side of the border, nor meaning any of the million of kinds of creatures yet to be discovered lurking in the depths of the jungles and at the bottom of the sea.) The referenced article includes the phrases:

"... "If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans," he said.

"Prof Hawking thinks that, rather than actively trying to communicate with extra-terrestrials, humans should do everything possible to avoid contact.

"He explained: "We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet." ...."

Beside affecting our efforts to communicate with species elsewhere, Hawking's thoughtful wisdom also might invite some soul-searching of ourselves. Remember, we humans often arrogantly refer to ourselves as the "top of the food chain" and "top predator". Up until fairly recently, the only species on this planet that we actively worked to propagate and nourish, were the ones we used for food in agriculture, like wheat and sheep. Anything else edible was doomed if crossing paths with the hunter-gatherers.

So consider Prof Hawking's wisdom. We might indeed get found by some spacefaring hunter-gatherer bunch with far more experience than we at being top predator, and just as arrogant. (Lots of sci fi has been written about just such a thing. If the sci fi writer wants to sell the books, it better have the humans as the winners. But the real world tells about America's land vs the Amerind's fate; do a reality test and check the results, as suggested by Prof Hawking. And worse yet, those space faring aliens might not recognize us as like themselves, and consider us more like ... maybe turkeys or saber-toothed tigers.)

Yet, it is a big Universe, and there is the principle that "like tends to attract like." I don't know how well it would work, but maybe we might consider working on changing ourselves into something we would want to meet.

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