Monday, April 26, 2010

IR Phone Home - Inter-Galactic Relations

In reaction to Stephen Hawking's Claim that Contacting Aliens has dangerous potential, mostly due to the fact that these beings might be like ourselves, and in search of resources having exhausted their own Planet's, Daniel Drezner delves into some Inter-galactic relations analysis:

"1) In space, does anybody understand the security dilemma? In international relations, there is at least full information about who the other actors are and where they are located. Clearly, we lack this kind of information about the known universe.

What Hawking is suggesting, however, is that efforts to collect such information would in and of themselves be dangerous, because they would announce our presence to others. He might be right. But shoiuldn't that risk be weighed against the cost of possessing a less robust early warning system? Isn't it in Earth's interests to enhance its intelligence-gathering activities?

2) Carried to its logical extreme, isn't Hawking making an argument for rapidly exhausting our natural resources? If Hawking is correct, then the sooner we run out of whatever might be valuable to aliens, the less interest we are to them. Of course, this does beg the question of which resources aliens would consider to be valuable. If aliens crave either sea water or bulls**t, then the human race as we know it is seriously screwed.

3) Why would aliens go after the inhabited planets? Ceteris paribus, I'm assuming that aliens would prefer to strip-mine an uninhabited planet abundant with natural resources than an inhabited one. Three hundred planets have already been discovered in the Milky Way, and there are "likely many billions." Even rapacious aliens might try some of them first before looking at Earth, since we are mostly harmless.

There is a counterargument, of course. Over at Hit & Run, Tim Cavanaugh tries to assuage fears of aliens by observing, "Why would a race of superintelligent jellyfish or blue whales even take notice of us, let alone want to conquer us?" This cuts both ways, however. If those jellyfish fail to notice us but notice our abundant amounts of salinated water, they could decide to come without a care in the world for the bipedal inhabitants of Earth.

4) How do we know that some human aren't already trying to contact aliens? Stephen Walt and others assume that the presence of aliens would cause humans to form a natural balancing coalition. I'm not so sure. My research into other apocalyptic scenarios suggests that some humans -- that's right, I'm looking at you, Switzerland! -- would bandwagon with the aliens. Indeed, for all we know, some humans are already trying to welcome their future alien overlords. Which begs the question -- wouldn't Hawking's isolationist policy allow the quislings to monopolize the galactic message emanating from Earth?

5) What about preventive action against the microbials? Hawking admits that most forms of extreterrestrial life will likely exist as micro-organisms. Which is swell, except that, if you believe those crazy scientist types, then humans also started off as little microbes. But if Hawking is correct about the motivations of any alien that would seek out strange new worlds, then we are missing a golden opportunity to wipe out any and (nearly) all extraterrestrial threats at the preventive stage. Perhapsw we should nuke all these emergent microbial life forms from orbit -- it's the only way to be sure. "

Read the whole thing HERE.

Lastly, speaking of Inter-galactic relations and empires... Here is a galactic empire state of mind:

"Galactic Empire State of Mind" Wall Video from Pheasant Plucker on Vimeo.

Click HERE for the finalized version of it.