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Stephen Hawking: Aliens may pose risks to Earth

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  • Charles

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36769422/?GT1=43001

     

    Hawking claims in a new documentary that intelligent alien lifeforms almost certainly exist, but warns that communicating with them could be "too risky." The 68-year-old scientist says a visit by extraterrestrials to Earth would be like Christopher Columbus arriving in the Americas, "which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans."

     

    Interesting perspective, Stephen. Now, if you look at how living systems interoperate here on Earth, one thing is quite clear: peaceful, harmonius, mutualistic interaction/behavior across all forms of terrestrial life, is the exception not the rule. That said, you could just as easily argue that the way life behaves on this planet isn't necessarily representative of all life in the universe. So, yes, he's right that we probably don't want to be visited by life forms like ours (especially humanoids), but there's got to be advanced intelligent life out there that doesn't have a penchant for conquering and destroying that which it finds to be strange, right? I mean, do we really think we are the norm - in the whole universe?

     

    Could be that we are an exception to the universal rule. Sure, our currently operational scientific hypotheses which describe what we think we see all around us, everywhere, tell a grim story of a violent birth and a certain cataclysmic demise of everything. It follows that this paranoid view of the universe should guide Hawking's perspective on how all advanced life in the universe probabilistically behaves. Math is a language used to tell stories in a very precise manner. This doesn't mean that what the math describes, precisely as it does, is absolutely correct.

     

    Hey aliens, do come and visit Earth. The water is fantastic.

     

    C

  • intelman

    The comparison to Christopher Columbus and the American Indians makes sense. That'd suck, but be so totally awesome at the same time.

  • Minh

    Plus, we've got a secret weapon.... miiiiiiiiiiiiicrobes.... SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH....

  • Ion Todirel

    Minh said:

    Plus, we've got a secret weapon.... miiiiiiiiiiiiicrobes.... SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH....

    That won't work on this time, on those aliens.

  • magicalclick

    I would consider "The Aliens", "Half Life", "The Invasion" senarios instead. I don't care if we are actually dominating other aliens. I am more concerned with us being a host of aliens.

     

    Leaving WM on 5/2018 if no apps, no dedicated billboards where I drive, no Store name.
    Last modified
  • littleguru

    Really intersting article... Smiley Btw. I didn't know that Mr Hawking is already 68 - wow! Such a bright mind!

  • TommyCarlier

  • Minh

    TommyCarlier said:

    Stephen Hawking should speak in "New Courier" not "Comic San Serif"

  • Minh

    Ion Todirel said:
    Minh said:
    *snip*

    That won't work on this time, on those aliens.

    It's worked in the 60's, and then again in 2005, I don't see why it wouldn't work again

  • Cannot​Resolve​Symbol

    littleguru said:

    Really intersting article... Smiley Btw. I didn't know that Mr Hawking is already 68 - wow! Such a bright mind!

    What's really remarkable is that Hawking is the longest-surviving sufferer of ALS ever--  he was diagnosed at 21, so he's been living with the disease for 47 years.

     

    People typically only survive the disease for about ten years; prior to Hawking, the longest documented cases were 32 and 39 years

     

    On topic:  the human desire to conquer and destroy everything isn't the only reason native americans suffered after Europeans colonized the Americas.  Sure, there was a lot of that sort of thing, but Native Americans also died for reasons the Europeans couldn't control:  the Europeans brought over diseases which didn't exist (or existed in different forms) in the Americas and the natives had no natural immunity.  So, even where there was peaceful collaboration, the Europeans were still responsible for death and illness that they didn't even know they could have caused.

     

    I could imagine something similar happening with extraterrestrial contact:  we make peaceful contact with an alien civilization, but they bring along microbes that our unadapted immune systems aren't prepared to handle.  Or they don't realize that their hydrochloric acid-containing sweat is harmful to human life, or any number of things that you wouldn't be prepared for if you've never met an extraterrestrial civilization before.

  • Dr Herbie

    CannotResolveSymbol said:
    littleguru said:
    *snip*

    What's really remarkable is that Hawking is the longest-surviving sufferer of ALS ever--  he was diagnosed at 21, so he's been living with the disease for 47 years.

     

    People typically only survive the disease for about ten years; prior to Hawking, the longest documented cases were 32 and 39 years

     

    On topic:  the human desire to conquer and destroy everything isn't the only reason native americans suffered after Europeans colonized the Americas.  Sure, there was a lot of that sort of thing, but Native Americans also died for reasons the Europeans couldn't control:  the Europeans brought over diseases which didn't exist (or existed in different forms) in the Americas and the natives had no natural immunity.  So, even where there was peaceful collaboration, the Europeans were still responsible for death and illness that they didn't even know they could have caused.

     

    I could imagine something similar happening with extraterrestrial contact:  we make peaceful contact with an alien civilization, but they bring along microbes that our unadapted immune systems aren't prepared to handle.  Or they don't realize that their hydrochloric acid-containing sweat is harmful to human life, or any number of things that you wouldn't be prepared for if you've never met an extraterrestrial civilization before.

    There is absolutely no reason to believe that 'higher intelligence' (conciousness) is the inevitable outcome of evolution. The most successful and longest existing groups on this planet are not intelligent.

    We tend to assume that intelligence is the height of evolution because we still see ourselves as the pinnacle of evolution, instead of just another phase in it's long history.

     

    I believe that the rise of higher intelligence on this planet is a fluke; if we ever find any extraterrestrial life it will not be intelligent.

     

    Herbie

     

  • Cream​Filling512

    A civilization capable of traveling to different stars would have easy access to near infinite resources.  There's nothing special for them here.  We'll get a better picture as the result from the Kepler mission come in, but its likely there are many, many earth-like planets.

  • Ian2

    Dr Herbie said:
    CannotResolveSymbol said:
    *snip*

    There is absolutely no reason to believe that 'higher intelligence' (conciousness) is the inevitable outcome of evolution. The most successful and longest existing groups on this planet are not intelligent.

    We tend to assume that intelligence is the height of evolution because we still see ourselves as the pinnacle of evolution, instead of just another phase in it's long history.

     

    I believe that the rise of higher intelligence on this planet is a fluke; if we ever find any extraterrestrial life it will not be intelligent.

     

    Herbie

     

    .. and don't forget that if they have been monitoring our signals from afar that they are probably only just now receiving  Star Trek.  That must bode well for us surely?

  • Cream​Filling512

    Dr Herbie said:
    CannotResolveSymbol said:
    *snip*

    There is absolutely no reason to believe that 'higher intelligence' (conciousness) is the inevitable outcome of evolution. The most successful and longest existing groups on this planet are not intelligent.

    We tend to assume that intelligence is the height of evolution because we still see ourselves as the pinnacle of evolution, instead of just another phase in it's long history.

     

    I believe that the rise of higher intelligence on this planet is a fluke; if we ever find any extraterrestrial life it will not be intelligent.

     

    Herbie

     

    Well I think you'd have to be intelligent in order to leave the gravity well of a planet.  And if you can't leave your planet you could be wiped out by a wide range cataclysmic events, asteroid collision, sun dies out, etc.  So if evolution is about survival, then you'd probably want to be intelligent, capable of manipulating the environment to your own needs.

  • exoteric

    A couple of perspectives: 1) The universe is simply too big for anyone to have an urge to "own it all", it doesn't make sense - see it all yes, own it all, well...; 2) A super-advanced civilization could see humans as wild animals and take the same attitude to us as we do to wild life - killing is a daily routine, don't interfere, let them be; 3) or it could see us as primitive and want to annihilate us; 4) or it could see us as pets. Also depends on whether they have evolved to (some would say away from, I hope not) emotions and how integrated their emotions and rationality is - their ethics.

  • exoteric

    Dr Herbie said:
    CannotResolveSymbol said:
    *snip*

    There is absolutely no reason to believe that 'higher intelligence' (conciousness) is the inevitable outcome of evolution. The most successful and longest existing groups on this planet are not intelligent.

    We tend to assume that intelligence is the height of evolution because we still see ourselves as the pinnacle of evolution, instead of just another phase in it's long history.

     

    I believe that the rise of higher intelligence on this planet is a fluke; if we ever find any extraterrestrial life it will not be intelligent.

     

    Herbie

     

    Define successful. Also, this just shows that evolution can be inclusive, it's a tree, not a list: branches can coexist, often depend on it - as we are becomming increasingly aware of on this planet. It doesn't necessarily show that nature and evolution doesn't favor intelligence (more time does mean higher intelligence). Aren't we all just complex adaptive machines, like automata, shaped by our externals (reactrive) and internals ("introactive"; reflective; introspective). Also, a rich ecosystem makes for a much more interesting, complex and adaptive system (on several scales): much more to adapt to.

     

    @Tommy: Independence Day sucks, think V.

  • Dr Herbie

    CreamFilling512 said:
    Dr Herbie said:
    *snip*

    Well I think you'd have to be intelligent in order to leave the gravity well of a planet.  And if you can't leave your planet you could be wiped out by a wide range cataclysmic events, asteroid collision, sun dies out, etc.  So if evolution is about survival, then you'd probably want to be intelligent, capable of manipulating the environment to your own needs.

    Evolution reacts to changes in the environment after they have happened -- it cannot prepare for a cataclysm like an asteroid collision or a dying sun because it is not intelligent, it is simply a mechanism. If a big enough asteroid hit the Earth, it's Game Over.

    You don't need intelligence to manipulate the environment -- ants and termites manipulate their environment, but they're not intelligent, they are like little pre-programmed (through evolution) robots.

     

    Herbie

     

  • exoteric

    Dr Herbie said:
    CreamFilling512 said:
    *snip*

    Evolution reacts to changes in the environment after they have happened -- it cannot prepare for a cataclysm like an asteroid collision or a dying sun because it is not intelligent, it is simply a mechanism. If a big enough asteroid hit the Earth, it's Game Over.

    You don't need intelligence to manipulate the environment -- ants and termites manipulate their environment, but they're not intelligent, they are like little pre-programmed (through evolution) robots.

     

    Herbie

     

    Is an ant more successful than a human and/or does the number of ants on the planet vs the number of humans on the planet indicate that evolution favors ants, you think Herbie? Smiley

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