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
Deciphering The Order of the Dolphin; A Plan for Alien Contact
Consider the remarkable characteristics of the brains of bottlenose dolphins, and how similar they are to our brains. While their brain-to-body-weight ratio is second only to humans, at 1600 vs. 1300 grams, their brains are more substantial than ours. This is why John C. Lilly, Frank Drake, Melvin Calvin, Carl Sagan, and ten other scientists formed The Order of the Dolphins in 1961.
With Lilly at the helm, this brilliant group of dolphin-lovers and E.T. enthusiasts would soon form the group, S.E.T.I. (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). Their mission, which continues today, is to discover how to find, attract, and talk to aliens.
Believing that dolphins are as sentient and intelligent as humans, S.E.T.I. wanted to learn the dolphin language, and teach English to them. Doing so, they suspected these profound creatures would eventually prepare us for when it came time to decipher alien languages, and communicate with extraterrestrials. According to Lilly, through “dolphinese,” dolphins would one day hold a seat at the U.N.
How Dolphins Communicate; Compelling Attributes Of The Bottlenose Dolphin
It’s not just the brain weight and related ratios that make this premise so exciting. Dolphins have a very complex neocortex, densely packed with billions of neurons, almost perfectly aligned with humans. This tells us that dolphins are adept at problem-solving, emoting, social cognition, perception, and the theory of mind, which includes having beliefs, desires, and intentions, with the ability to sense what others are thinking. Also, these beautiful creatures have proven that they grow cultural traditions, which they pass from generation to generation.
Dolphins can understand sentences constructed with elaborate gestures, and they’re adept at pinging underwater keyboards to communicate their desires to humans. Dolphins also have the unique, human-like ability to recognize themselves in mirrors. By all accounts, dolphins are self-aware and should be considered sentient beings. There are 40 species of dolphins.