Stephen Hawking, the noted physicist, has expressed an in-depth personal fear of aliens, so much so that he hinted that we should stop searching for them, stop mailing out signals to keep our existence a secret, less the aliens discover us and come here to wipe us out. This short article will discuss whether this viewpoint has any merit.
The North American Indians, the South American Indians, the Africans as well as others, all had something very real to fear once the Europeans came to their land, so it is understandable that earthlings, like Hawking, might fear aliens coming to this planet. This fear stems mainly from superimposing human mentality on the aliens, not forgetting watching way too many Star Trek and Star War movies. Naturally, it is pretty much mandatory for Hollywood to transform the aliens into man-eating predators for purely business reasons: carnivorous aliens sell more theater tickets than benevolent aliens.
There is certainly, however, a noticeable distinction between Europe as well as the other continents on the one hand, and between Alien Spacecraft and Earth on the other. The difference is distance. To arrive at another continents, the Europeans only needed some relatively primitive sailboats. But also for the aliens to achieve Earth, dozens or countless light years away, they would need quite sophisticated spacecraft. The critical question, therefore, is: Can a barbarous civilization develop higher technology?
Human history fails to support the notion that it is possible for barbarians to attain higher technology. The two most barbarous epochs in human history were a) the tens of thousands of years preceding the dawn of civilization, and b) the thousand-year period pursuing the fall of the Roman empire. Both in epochs, technological progress was virtually nil. Only when human civilization became less barbarous, with all the demise of rule by hereditary delinquents called royalty, with all the demise of slavery, with all the spread of education to the masses, and so forth, can we commence to see technological progress.
Without a doubt, there could be complete degenerates out in space but they must be absolutely nothing to fear because it is unlikely that they will ever be able to leave their particular planet much less survive the nuclear weapons stage when they ever obtain that far. Technological barbarians, such as the Klingons of Star Trek, might only happens to Hollywood and nowhere else. Now another question arises: Are friendly aliens something to fear?
Some have suggested that connection with aliens would produce a dramatic upheaval in human society. My opinion about this is: Not really. Perhaps decades ago there would have been some commotion although not today. A lot more than sixty years of ancient astronaut and UFO propaganda has produced a world by which alien contact may turn out to be just another news event. As for the “upheaval,” I can think about three things which might happen:
1) The armaments industry may be affected. Knowing advanced alien civilizations exist, it is likely that humans would want to bind together as being a species and will stop killing the other person. Indeed, it seems like virtually certain that wars between humans should come for an end, and also the countries in the Middle East will finally make peace. Jobs within the armaments industry will have to be transferred to infrastructure, space exploration, and consumer-related industries.
2) Social structures could be affected. Disparities in between the developed world as well as the third world may start to melt away as well as other inequities in human society. We shall likely see higher taxes on the usvyot and more focus on education, technological development, and also the colonization of outer space.
3) Organized religions could be affected. Fundamentalist concepts like creation are likely to be pushed into the background, but overall, religions may carry on and proliferate being a mechanism for consolation and moral guidance.
Hawking acknowledges that aliens may have extremely advanced technology. The main flaw within his thinking will not be realizing that such technology could be used to find ways of self-sustenance not including the barbaric plundering of inhabited planets. The opportunity that SETI (Look for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) could eventually pick-up an alien signal is nothing to fear and, to the contrary, might even be something to welcome.