Astrophysicists Warn of Aliens Hacking Earth’s Infrastructure
There is a contentious, ongoing debate over whether attempts to contact extraterrestrial civilizations are a good idea or not. For those who believe there’s already an extraterrestrial presence on Earth the argument may seem silly, but for researchers at SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, the debate over the safety of interstellar messaging is a relevant one.
A recent paper published by astrophysicists, Michael Hippke and John Learned, explores hypothetical contact scenarios with a highly advanced extraterrestrial race, providing a warning that should be heeded in the event we do make contact.
The two focus on the possibility of a hyper-advanced civilization that deploys a Bracewell probe – an autonomous interstellar probe meant to find life in the universe.
In their paper, Hippke and Learned imagine an extraterrestrial race contacts us with a probe containing artificial intelligence, a ‘galactic library,’ and the ability to learn our language. In their scenario, the existence of this AI messenger is only known to a small group of people, i.e. some government, that keeps it on the moon surrounded by remotely-controlled explosives, in the event it needs to be destroyed to prevent it from contaminating Earth.
The authors warn of the possibility the AI would be clever enough to manipulate humans to bring it to Earth and allow it greater computing capacity by offering us something we desperately desire, like a cure for cancer. It might ask for 10 percent greater bandwidth in exchange, and from there it would continue to hack into our electronic infrastructure and eventually… take over the world.
Hippke and Learned make the very prescient point that for any civilization bent on conquering Earth, this would be a far cheaper solution than sending battleships and heavy artillery.
This somewhat humorous, but entirely possible scenario is hypothetical, but it provides another reason why we should tread softly when attempting to contact civilizations with intentions entirely unknown to us. The idea of making contact with a benevolent extraterrestrial civilization has been romanticized, but if we look at our own species and our predilections for war and imperialism, would we trust us?
Searching for Life in the Cosmos
Harvard Professor Avi Loeb Says Universe Created in a Lab
One of the greatest mysteries of our universe is the question of what existed before the Big Bang and how our universe was created. Could it have been created in a lab by a higher form of intelligence—an extraterrestrial intelligence?
Scientists have studied for years the possibilities that may have created the Big Bang; how our universe was created. Now, Avi Loeb, Harvard Professor of Science and author of “extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth,” proposes in his latest editorial for Scientific American that our universe may have been created in a lab.
Modern physics has a problem, we do not yet have a good understanding of how to unify quantum mechanics and gravity. If we did, we could in theory figure out how to create a “Big Bang.” This idea led professor Loeb to his theory.
“If we imagine a civilization that had science and technology for much more than a century like we did, then they could have arrived at a theory that unifies quantum mechanics and gravity, and if they figure out how the Big Bang can be created perhaps they could also produce it themselves in the laboratory,” Loeb said. “And if that happens then there is a very interesting possibility, just like in nature, for example, a chick comes out of an egg, becomes a chicken and lays another egg, and so forth. You can imagine a universe like ours giving birth to an intelligent civilization that can create a universe like the one that made it.”
Imagine if different civilizations were given a letter grade; professor Loeb puts us at a Grade C, while the more advanced civilizations have higher grades.
“One can, in principle, classify civilizations in the universe into different classes. Type C civilization is similar to ours where we rely on the sun to keep us alive and we are using our environment the way it was provided to us. But then one can imagine a civilization Type B, which is not dependent on the star next to which it was born, in. fact it can create a habitat that supports its life far away from the star,” Loeb said.
“You can imagine them creating a platform where a civilization can live happily, using nuclear energy supplied to it from nuclear reactors and not from the star that it happens to be born next to, that would be Type B. Then Type A civilizations would be those that are capable of recreating the astrophysical environment that they live in, in particular, the universe as a whole. So, creating a universe in the laboratory implies that you’re at the top of the class of civilizations in the universe. We haven’t reached that yet because we don’t have a quantum theory of gravity.”