A recent study takes a look at how we might read and interpret an Alien message from outer space, and has determined that it would be next to impossible for us to know whether the message is dangerous before we open it.
While the idea of an Alien message is fascinating and human nature would be to open it and learn more about other inhabitants of our universe, these scientists argue that the safest course of action would be to discard the message and not even open it at all.
Michael Hippke and John G. Learned wrote in their study that it’s very unlikely that any alien civilization that we come in contact would be harmful, but that since it would be impossible to know what an Alien message would say before we open it, we’re best not opening it altogether from a safety standpoint.
“After all, it is cheaper for ETI to send a malicious message to eradicate humans compared to sending battleships.”
Some researchers have suggested that an Alien message would have to be closely studied and even “decontaminated” before we open and read it in order to understand the dangers and remove them before the Earth is exposed, but the recently published paper suggests that it would be nearly impossible to totally remove that danger.
It’s impossible to know how an Alien message could affect our world, but while the message itself may not do anything bad, the implications of alien contact could be catastrophic. If the civilization we come in contact with is far more advanced than our own, there’s a possibility that the threat could send the world into a panic – causing us to destroy ourselves from within. Also possible is more direct action following the Alien message that could cause harm to the Earth. While it may be viewed as a good idea to look at the transmission in order to better prepare for a conflict, Hippke and Learned have suggested that there’s nearly nothing we could do in that sort of situation and it may be better to avoid any panic or negative effects from the message itself by getting rid of it as soon as we receive it.
There are a variety of issues that an Alien message could bring about, and some researchers have suggested building a “prison” of sorts that would constrain the message so it could be safely contained. However, even such a prison may not be enough to contain potential technology that is far more advanced than our own. If it were to contain some sort of advanced artificial intelligence, for example, it could weasel its way into our society and cause a takeover from within.
Overall, the main takeaway from this research is that these scientists suggest how dangerous opening an Alien message could be. However, the paper ends with a suggestion that opening the message might be the best course of action after all – despite the potential for danger and the increased safety of simply discarding the transmission. The potential for growth and scientific advancement is unprecedented, and contact with an advanced alien civilization could open up our world to an incredible age of progress.
In a guide of sorts to how we should respond to an Alien message, the authors write that “we should certainly not transmit any code. Instead, a plain text encyclopedia, images, music etc. in a simple format are adequate…No advanced computer should be required to decrypt our message.”
While the likelihood of being contacted by an advanced alien civilization in the near future isn’t very likely due to the fact that we haven’t been able to locate any semblance of life at all within our observable universe, it helps to be prepared for a potential interaction. At the end of the day, we won’t be able to have any idea of how such an interaction with play out. Opening up an Alien message puts our planet in danger, but scientists believe that the benefits are just too great to ignore. Whether the world takes Hippke and Learned’s advice into account remains to be seen, but it’s definitely a dilemma on which the scientific community continues to ponder.