Tuesday, January 1, 2008

So Shaddup Already!

One of the places I don't visit nearly often enough is The Register UK. The Reg, as it is known to many, is a mix of technology, science, and oddball stories generally written with tongue firmly in cheek. Today, I came across this little gem:

A pair of noted space thinkers have resigned from an international body in protest at plans to send out powerful radio signals to alien civilisations. The two men feel that the risks of contact with extraterrestrials - who would need to be much more technologically advanced than humanity in order to visit us - have not been adequately considered.

The signalling that lies behind the concern is so-called "active SETI" (SETI meaning the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence). Ordinary SETI efforts typically involve using radio telescope arrays to listen for signals sent out by aliens. With active SETI, however, the idea is to beam out powerful signals from Earth, with the idea of attracting aliens' attention.

Space brains resign over efforts to attract ET attention

To translate into American English, the idea of active SETI is to be a fracking idiot.

Anyone who understands how we came to be the dominant form of large animal life on this planet understands what a foolish idea it would be to just invite a more technologically advanced version of ourselves here. We got to be the dominant form of life on this planet by getting rid of, domesticating, or confining most of the other forms of life that are dangerous to us. When human beings first set foot in North America, many other species started to disappear. Archeological records in various Pacific Islands and Europe tell a similar tale. We got where we are, in short, by not only being as ruthless as every other form of life, but smarter.

Unless you believe in one of the many fairy tales about our origins, you ought to realize that any other species that emerged from an ecosystem will have similar attributes. As far as I'm concerned, there's no reason to believe they'll be peaceful, thoughtful creatures who will respect the rights of other sapient life. Even Trekkies ought to know this. Part of the mythology of Star Trek is that the first spacefaring race we encountered were the Vulcans, a species who had learned to devote themselves to peace and logic. That mythology goes on to relate that humans were awfully damned lucky to meet up with Vulcans before we found the Klingons or the Romulans. The latter, frankly, are the far more likely models of whatever we'll really encounter out there.

Even if you never heard of science fiction, the history of our own country ought to be enough to convince you that the last thing we would want to do is encounter someone like us. If you don't think that's true, I suggest you read up on the history of the Cherokee or the Lenni Lenape. Then consider that we'd be the Indians in that scenario. It might also be worth considering that most indigenous Americans were wiped out by diseases brought here by European settlers. At the time, no one had even imagined genetic engineering, much less learned how to do it.

The Reg concludes:

Quite frankly, this whole business sounds like ample justification for a huge atomic space battlefleet coupled with aggressive efforts at interstellar colonisation (so that someone will be left after the Earth gets blown up or conquered as a prelude to us all being eaten/enslaved/impregnated with disgusting alien larvae etc). The argument seems quite compelling to us here on the Reg space-battlefleet & interstellar-colonisation desk, anyway. Others may not be so convinced, remaining focused on their parochial concerns about global warming, ignorance among the young people of today, beer prices etc. (We believe it should go without saying that the space battlefleet costs not involve any increase in alcohol tax.)

Space brains resign over efforts to attract ET attention

Considering that this is being done by scientists, this has to rank as one of the stupidest things we've ever done as a species. Of all the people on this planet, they should know better.

Let's just hope the Vulcans really do live nearby.


Bustednuckles said...

The Darwin Awards on a massive scale.

Hey you,
Happy Birthday.

I damn near missed it, 'cept I happen to stop by and say somethin smartassed over to the Flowa's place.


Cujo359 said...

No kidding, Bustednuckles. It's probably just further proof that we're too stupid to survive even as long as most successful species manage.

Myron said...
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