Should We Develop an ET Encounter Handbook?

Dr. Avi Loeb, a theoretical physicist, talks about the precautions that were taken at ‘Kennedy’, in case alien life came into contact with the United States.

What should we do in case of an extraterrestrial (ET) encounter? It’s unnerving to find a stranger in your backyard and demands an immediate response. Humanity’s cautious approach would be to find out more about ET visitation because the circumstances can be unexpected.

The event will undoubtedly change the way we think about the universe and our goals for the future in space. The revolutionary realization that something from the stars came to see us here, rather than seeing them from a distance, will gradually become clear.

Before interacting with a guest, it would be wise to passively gather as much information about that individual as possible. We must determine its purpose, understand the knowledge it seeks, and interpret any movements or indications it makes.

If the visitor is just ancient space junk, as our current spacecraft will be a billion years from now, we might be able to discover its origins by examining it in a laboratory. The first interstellar meteor fragments from 2014 will be used for this by Project Galileo, once a specialized expedition retrieves them from the ocean floor in Papua New Guinea in 2023.

However, it is possible that the visitor has artificial intelligence (AI), in which case specialists in psychology, linguistics, philosophy, code-breaking and AI would be best suited to carry out the interpretation task. The type and conduct of the visitor will determine which specialist group is best.

Traditional bureaucrats or academics have long argued that we should establish a sizable committee before any encounter to write a comprehensive “ET Encounter” guide explaining various scenarios and how to behave in each. This strategy is flawed because this group lacks an empirical basis on which to base their predictions. Due to lack of prior experience, the imagination of committee members may not accurately portray the true nature of the actual ET encounter.

Every interaction is a conversation, so before we can decide how to respond, we need to collect information about the visitor. Since it is often remarked that “a camel is a horse designed by a committee”, compromised committee consensus would not be the best course of action for this important new event.

When we talk about horses, we need to be careful not to find a Trojan Horse that is hiding its true purpose. As the necessary journey through interstellar space is perilous and long, taking millions to billions of years, due to the bombardment of energetic particles, dust and high-energy radiation, it seems unlikely that we will come across biological organisms. Instead, AI is more likely to interact with technological equipment, so we must use our best AI algorithms to understand it. An autonomous car is a private driver designed by artificial intelligence (AI), to paraphrase the saying about committees.

The threat posed by an extraterrestrial visitation does not concern me. Compared to the billions of years that sophisticated ET civilizations around older stars existed before us, our modern technology was only developed in the previous century. Long before mankind arrived, they had plenty of time to wipe out all life on Earth. Rather, experience can provide us with a wonderful learning opportunity that will allow us to see the future of technology. This would serve as a lesson on how much we still need to understand to join the elite group of extraterrestrial civilizations.

During a television interview on the subject last night, presenter Lisa Kennedy Montgomery asked me, “Would you like to be the guy in charge of deciding what to do upon arrival?” involved… but if we ever need to communicate with an extraterrestrial device, I’d rather let a woman handle this delicate task, because women have better communication skills.

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