# Hawking on Aliens

This has happened with prisoners regarding artwork.
I think people tend to either break as in the case of severe sensory deprivation, or they turn inward. For some, that experience means confronting things that they can't bear, but for others, as you say, creativity can be expressed.

I find it astonishing that Hawking does in his head, what most people cannot manage with a room full of dry-boards! That being said, he is fairly uniquely famous, but I would say "A Brief History of Time" did that. He 'explained' black holes to the lay community when people had literally no idea what they might be. Right or wrong, he also did it with humor, and pictures, and THEN you add the condition and "robot voice" and yeah, fame.

Given his declining health however, it's hard to tell at this point what to make of his statements regarding ETs. Either way, he's made people such as Susskind and Thorne famous to people who don't even know what Relativity or QM are, and that can't be a bad thing. Lets face it, after Einstein, and Oppenheimer and (spit) Wernher von Braun and more, scientists + the information age = public awareness.

I find it easier to accept than celebrity chefs.

I think people tend to either break as in the case of severe sensory deprivation, or they turn inward.
I would agree with that.

I would agree with that.
Thank you pallidin. What I'd like to know are what factors predict which outcome someone will face. You seem pretty knowledgeable in this arena, do you have any idea?

Hmmm, you know, I've done some more reading on Hawking's view on this, and once you filter the media hysteria, he makes an excellent point. I doubt we face imminent threats, but more along the lines of, "do we really want to broadcast our nature and locations to unknown entities?". This is a lot of hype around a basic cautionary tale.

Given a number of possibilities, I believe Hawking's scenario is the most (marginally) likely.

A) It is almost a given that they have traveled a very long distance.
B) They probably traveled at near light speeds. This is a safer bet then say FTL, as it doesn't involve speculative exotic matter for worm holes and such.
C) They don't have a home to return to. Due to relativistic effects during travel their home, as they know it, doesn't exist anymore.

Which means...
D) They are NOT explorers! They came because they want something--and we have it! A stable oasis in a vast desert. When you get a glass a water at night and happen to see Mr. Cockroach is also sharing the benefit of said kitchen, do we not just step on it? Do we lose any sleep afterwards?

I don't see them destroying all the cities or wiping humanity out. Just swiping us aside whenever we become a nuisance.

Given a number of possibilities, I believe Hawking's scenario is the most (marginally) likely.

A) It is almost a given that they have traveled a very long distance.
B) They probably traveled at near light speeds. This is a safer bet then say FTL, as it doesn't involve speculative exotic matter for worm holes and such.
C) They don't have a home to return to. Due to relativistic effects during travel their home, as they know it, doesn't exist anymore.

Which means...
D) They are NOT explorers! They came because they want something--and we have it! A stable oasis in a vast desert. When you get a glass a water at night and happen to see Mr. Cockroach is also sharing the benefit of said kitchen, do we not just step on it? Do we lose any sleep afterwards?

I don't see them destroying all the cities or wiping humanity out. Just swiping us aside whenever we become a nuisance.
A) True.
B) Who knows, and that assumes...
C) A life of a type and span that cares or experiences these effects

D) How does A+B=D? They traveled a long way based on old light from this planet, instead of exploring nearby regions? A civilization that cannot achieve FTL travel (entirely likely!)
seems to be going out of their way for what the Earth offers. There's little here on earth that cannot be harvested from other planets and planetoids, and even water would be easier to MELT than to take here.

Do you step on a cockroach and except the infestation to abate? More likely, you avoid infestations in the first place.

I found Hawking's views very pessimistic too.

If an alien civilization discovered the secrets of the universe to such extent as to be able to travel through the stars to distant planets and/or galaxies, at speeds close to the speed of light or beyond, what could we possibly have to offer?

They can figure out how to master space-time, but they need help finding water? Making a burger? It's hard for them to figure out how we operate? They need wood for a fire? Ridiculous.

They could mess with us for fun, I guess, but I'm more optimistic than that.

Fizica7
I found Hawking's views very pessimistic too.

If an alien civilization discovered the secrets of the universe to such extent as to be able to travel through the stars to distant planets and/or galaxies, at speeds close to the speed of light or beyond, what could we possibly have to offer?

They can figure out how to master space-time, but they need help finding water? Making a burger? It's hard for them to figure out how we operate? They need wood for a fire? Ridiculous.

They could mess with us for fun, I guess, but I'm more optimistic than that.
We figured out how to go to the moon. But our scientists still study life, biology. They do it in labs and also travel the world looking for new species.

I personally just don't see it happening and it's a lot simpler my way. Author C. Clark said by 3000, man will have traveled to all the stars visible by the naked eye. I think he meant about 4000 in general. I don't think that's gonna' happen, not even one and further I do not believe that at any time in the entire history of the Universe, one intelligent life form has ever made physical contact with another intelligent life form, not ever. The distances are too great, the conditions too harsh, and the chances that two intelligent life forms exist at the same time and in relatively the same location in the Universe are extremely unlikely. Don't get me wrong, I think there is tons of life in the Universe but it's all happening at different times, different rates of evolution, and different levels of success. Very unlikely in my opinion to find two independently-evolved intelligent life forms in the same relative vicinity at the same time.

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I think that it's best to just assume that we have no idea. The true reality could be so many different ways. I expect that the truth is far stranger than what most of us imagine and expect.

What if they are such master of the universe, that they can terraform earth to suit their biology? What if their planet is going to be destroyed by an unstoppable force, and they had chosen earth thousands of years ago as a replacement.

The point is, when it comes to reality, their is always a history and story which leads up to the present which you cannot predict. For example, when the white man colonized the new world, it happened to have been the case that they had particular beliefs and particular desires, and particular technology, particular culture, particular leadership etc. There is no way to know what ET visitors think, what they want, what they believe, and so on.

I know that there are a lot of humans on earth that enjoy killing other species for fun, just for the blood lust. For all we know, they could come as sport hunters. Maybe they bring stuffed human bodies, cow heads, etc, as trophies and hang them in a wall with species they've killed from all over the universe.

Somehow, the notion that because they are so advanced, they must be so emotionally advanced and empathetic. It may be that the opposite, perhaps, emotion being a weakness in a sense has been left behind with the new ages of technological biological hybridization.

Somehow, the notion that because they are so advanced, they must be so emotionally advanced and empathetic. It may be that the opposite, perhaps, emotion being a weakness in a sense has been left behind with the new ages of technological biological hybridization.
Maybe they don't have what we call emotions at all. My point was that because they are so advanced, they must not have any need for us or our resources. Anything being possible, it shows who's an optimist and who's a pessimist. I'd be ok sending signals out and seeing what comes our way (if it's possible).

What's the right course of action for us as a planet? Hawking's hope is that we stay hidden, or that we would see them before they see us, but is that even possible (under the assumption they are so much more advanced than us)?

How about the fact that if they are so advanced, and their intentions were to harm us, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now.

Chronos
Gold Member
If aliens visited earth, and were anything like us, I would be very afraid. They would probably view earth not unlike british petroleum does a newly discovered oil field. A biologically active planet might offer valuable molecules. I doubt they would perceive us as much more interesting than a fungus infection.

I think everyone here is giving too much scientific credibility to Hawking. Number of his practical inventions = 0 and to me thats not much credible.

Plus he took part in so many movies, self-proclaimed himself father of the universe, plus all the books and so on, that guy is a celebrity, and a strange one...

He had not lost his mind, he is simply doing some crazy talk to advertise the new shows he gets \$ for being a consultant. A slang term would be "pimping" those new crazy idea shows.

I'd suggest aliens, capable of reaching other star systems would be not only advanced technologically, but also conceptually, and would know better than Cortes and his cousin, who slaughtered the majority of native americans and burned all their books, that contained information about planet orbits around the sun by the time "white" people still believed the universe revolves around Earth in some illogical way.

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Fizica7
Most of you are over looking the moral of the story. If aliens could travel here we would be at their mercy. Also even if they were equal to us in every technology but found out a way to travel through space at tremendous speeds if you could fight a war from orbit you would win, because you don't have to live there when its over, or just release short acting biological or chemical weapons into the atmosphere undetected and you have a ready made colony with infrastructure.
Also some more food for thought traveling at great speeds might be a lot simpler than we think. Think about this if you look at a wheel and axle you would think any idiot could design this, and thats true; however, it didn't occur to any of our ancestors for thousands of years even when the means lay right in front of them.
Also I wouldn't bet the survival of the human species on your naive, idealistic, fantasies of any interstellar group as being some sort of Utopia of science and reasoning. Yes reasonable people and the exchange of ideas is the way we know our civilizations have developed technology, but in the end it was the strongest that was the civilization that survived. Also you don't know if the aliens stole the technology from a benovelent insterstellar society. Again the moral of the story is we would be at the whims of a species not our own.

baywax
Gold Member
Although Hawking has suggested its perfectly rational for us to think there is intelligent life in the universe... he also mentioned that intelligence is probably a bad mutation with regard to survival of a species.

"It is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value."

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:S...intelligence_has_any_long-term_survival_value.

This is a reference to our continuous degradation of the resources that serve to continue our survival, water, air and earth. All of them are being polluted at a rate that out strips the rate of natural replenishment and filtering. Hawking's quote also refers to our propensity to spread viral disease amongst our selves and our threats to, if not acting on, nuclear annihilation. All these anti-survival traits are a result of intelligence.

As far as I remember, Hawking also mentioned that because intelligence appears to be such a poor selection in terms of survival of the species, if it has been naturally selected on another planet in another system... it is fairly obvious that that "intelligent" species won't survive long... either. So, why would we expect to meet them?

Although Hawking has suggested its perfectly rational for us to think there is intelligent life in the universe... he also mentioned that intelligence is probably a bad mutation with regard to survival of a species.

"It is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value."

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:S...intelligence_has_any_long-term_survival_value.

This is a reference to our continuous degradation of the resources that serve to continue our survival, water, air and earth. All of them are being polluted at a rate that out strips the rate of natural replenishment and filtering. Hawking's quote also refers to our propensity to spread viral disease amongst our selves and our threats to, if not acting on, nuclear annihilation. All these anti-survival traits are a result of intelligence.

As far as I remember, Hawking also mentioned that because intelligence appears to be such a poor selection in terms of survival of the species, if it has been naturally selected on another planet in another system... it is fairly obvious that that "intelligent" species won't survive long... either. So, why would we expect to meet them?

Doesn't that kind of contradict the anthropic principle?

Somehow, the notion that because they are so advanced, they must be so emotionally advanced and empathetic. It may be that the opposite, perhaps, emotion being a weakness in a sense has been left behind with the new ages of technological biological hybridization.

You're right, we would have absolutely no idea what their motives would be.

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You're right, we would have absolutely no idea what their motives would be.
You could twist it around though. Perhaps organic life is limited because we can't understand machine emotion? We are only one tiny part funktionslust in our experiences. Most of us rarely experience it at all (master craftsmen and athletes a bit more so.) There might be an entire spectrum of emotional being we miss out on simply because we are not stamped fully made out of an assembly line with a predetermined purpose.
Machine intelligence might be the norm out there ; and we might be the flukes.
We might be the species that lacks an emotional existance compared to machines. Perhaps only a machine can experience true funktionslust: the joy of being attached to what one does.

Comparing emotion is always a matter of perspective. When leveraged against a Universal background, who says that humanity has the grasp on what emotion even means?
To me funktionslust is all that is valid. I don't expect others to agree. I also don't expect that humanity as a whole has any monopoly on the emotional spectrum. There could even be greying states of quantum-like superpositions of opposite emotions as well as higher states of funktionslust we are incapable of feeling. There could also be more sophisticated symbiosis among aliens. They might find it horrifying that we don't communicate with our own mitochondria. Our very individuality might mean, to them, that we are incapable of feelings. And the opposite, perhaps the aliens are such rugged individuals that they consider us like a coral?

This is the problem with assuming we have some firm grasp on emotion and them on logic. Emotions can have their own logic. Even logic can change with perspective.

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I think this movie went straight to video but it scared the bejeezus out of me anyway when i first saw it (caveat specto):
Well, the book that Walton wrote describing his experience is nothing like the movie, and this scene in particular. The movie makes them seem like sadistic monsters.

The book makes them seem like dull boyscouts. It's all nonsense anyway.

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how much input does hawking has with these docos? he must have alot of trouble communicating now & it would take too long. they probably just put his name on it & write his words? i vote aliens wouldn't even waste time looking at us, probably laugh the planet has gone past its use by date.

hmm... lets think this in another perspective, if we were aliens and finds some planet with life on it... would we exploit the resources?

Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus