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
The Betty and Barney Hill Abduction
On the evening of September 19, 1961, Barney and Betty Hill, along with their dog Delsey, were returning to their Portsmouth, New Hampshire, home after a short vacation to Niagara Falls. They were traveling on Highway 3, just south of Lancaster, when they saw a bright light in the sky. Betty, who was in the passenger seat, watched the light move lower into the sky. At first, Barney thought it was probably an airplane. Betty, who had heard of unidentified flying objects (UFOs), was sure she was looking at a flying saucer.
The Hills stopped to get a closer look at the object and let Delsey out for a short walk. Barney remained curious, but just a little frightened. He got out of the car and used his binoculars, but still could not figure out what he was looking at. He stopped the car a few more times on the way home. He described seeing lights of all different colors and rows of windows on the object. He described the object as “pancake shaped.” At one point, he approached the object and could see several occupants inside, which scared him so badly he ran quickly back to the car to join Betty where she was waiting for him.
The couple then heard buzzing sounds and felt tingling sensations throughout their bodies, but ultimately, they drove home, where they went straight to bed exhausted. They did not wake up until late the following afternoon. They then realized the four-hour trip home from Niagara Falls had taken them seven hours. Betty noticed the dress she was wearing was torn in several places and had a pinkish powder on it. The powder was later examined by five different laboratories. None of them could identify the substance.
The toes of Barney’s good dress shoes were scuffed to the point he could no longer wear them. The binoculars strap was broken and looked like it had been cut. Both Barney and Betty were wearing watches at the time of their unusual encounter. Both watches quit working and never worked again. Shiny, concentric circles appeared on the trunk of the car that seemed to have some sort of magnetic connection. They noted a strange reaction from a compass after it was placed near the circles.
At her sister’s urging, Betty called the nearby Pease Air Force base to report the incident. As Betty and Barney each recalled the incident, they became convinced they had been abducted by extraterrestrials.
The Betty and Barney Hill abduction story was the first of its kind, but certainly not the last. Although the incident happened more than 50 years ago, it is still being discussed and analyzed today. Were the Hills really abducted? If so, what happened to them during their time on the spaceship? What and who did they see? How did they communicate? Where were the extraterrestrials from? Let’s find out what exactly happened in the aftermath of this historical milestone event.
The Air Force Investigation
Barney would have preferred to just keep the experience quiet and between the two of them, fearing that he and Betty would be viewed as “eccentric.” Betty won their brief argument on the issue and on September 21, she called the Air Force to report their experience. Major Paul Henderson visited them in person and wrote a report of the interview dated September 26, 1961. It’s unclear whether or not Henderson viewed the Hills as credible; a National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) report concludes that there was “insufficient data in the Air Force files.”