Stephen Hawking, the noted physicist, has expressed a deep personal fear of aliens, so much so that he hinted that we should stop searching for them, stop broadcasting signals to keep our existence a secret, less the aliens discover us and come here to wipe us out. This article will discuss whether this viewpoint has any merit.
The North American Indians, the South American Indians, the Africans yet others, all had something very real to fear once the Europeans came to their land, so it will be understandable that earthlings, like Hawking, might fear aliens visiting this planet. This fear stems mainly from superimposing human mentality on the aliens, in addition to watching too many Star Trek and Star War movies. Obviously, it is pretty much mandatory for Hollywood to change the aliens into man-eating predators for purely business reasons: carnivorous aliens sell more theater tickets than benevolent aliens.
There is, however, a noticeable distinction between Europe and also the other continents on the one hand, and between Alien Spacecraft and Earth on the other. The difference is distance. To arrive at one other continents, the Europeans only needed some relatively primitive sailboats. But for the aliens to reach Earth, dozens or countless light years away, they could 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 easy for barbarians to achieve higher technology. The two most barbarous epochs in human history were a) the thousands of years preceding the dawn of civilization, and b) the thousand-year period following the fall in the Roman empire. In both epochs, technological progress was virtually nil. Only once human civilization became less barbarous, with all the demise of rule by hereditary delinquents called royalty, using the demise of slavery, with all the spread of education towards the masses, and so forth, can we commence to see technological progress.
For sure, there might be complete degenerates outside in space but they should be absolutely nothing to fear as it is unlikely that they will ever have the ability to leave their own planet not to mention survive the nuclear weapons stage if they ever obtain that far. Technological barbarians, like the Klingons of Star Trek, may possibly exist in Hollywood and nowhere else. Now another question arises: Are friendly aliens something to fear?
Some have suggested that contact with aliens would produce a dramatic upheaval in human society. My opinion about this is: Not really. Perhaps decades ago there could have been some commotion although not today. Greater than sixty years of ancient astronaut and UFO propaganda has produced a world where alien contact may turn out to be just another news event. With regards to “upheaval,” I could consider three things which might happen:
1) The armaments industry may be affected. Knowing advanced alien civilizations exist, chances are that humans will want to bind together being a species and will stop killing each other. Indeed, it seems virtually certain that wars between humans should come to an end, and the countries in the Middle East will finally make peace. Jobs inside the armaments industry would need to be moved to infrastructure, space exploration, and consumer-related industries.
2) Social structures may be affected. Disparities in between the developed world as well as the third world may begin to melt away along with other inequities in human society. We shall likely see higher taxes on the usvyot and much more awareness of education, technological development, and the colonization of outer space.
3) Organized religions might be affected. Fundamentalist concepts like creation could be pushed in to the background, but overall, religions may continue to proliferate being a mechanism for consolation and moral guidance.
Hawking acknowledges that aliens might have extremely advanced technology. The key flaw in the thinking is not really realizing that such technology can be used to find ways of self-sustenance excluding the barbaric plundering of inhabited planets. The chance that SETI (Hunt for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) could eventually pick-up an alien signal is certainly not to fear and, for the contrary, may even be something to welcome.