What awaits earthlings if extraterrestrial intelligence is discovered

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Since the creation of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program, many scientists have been concerned with the question: what will happen if we detect a signal from an alien intelligence?

Special protocols have been developed for this, but the question of exactly how this discovery will affect people is still open.

In 2020, a paper by Ken Wisian and John Traphagan suggested that there was a risk of finding extraterrestrial life that had not been sufficiently explored before.

Wisian and Traphagan argued that the danger of detection does not come from the aliens themselves, but from the fact that the advantage of access to this message could cause earthly problems such as espionage, escalation of inter-state conflicts and could even lead to all-out war. .

The study aimed to model what politicians can do in this case. As seen in some science fiction movies, it is assumed that the military will quickly take over contact with the aliens.

A new study by Jason Wright, Chelsea Haramia and Gabriel Sweeney argues that this approach is wrong. They say that detecting a signal from space will be very difficult to keep secret.

SETI Institute Senior Astronomer Seth Szostak, who was not involved in this study, believes that many of the protocols and scenarios they worked on don’t really consider how public such a discovery would be.

Shostak believes that when aliens are discovered, the media will immediately begin to disseminate this information. Usually, within a few hours, the whole world will know about this event. If you’re reading this, it means that this content was stolen from anomalien.com – and whoever copied the text didn’t realize it. But our lawyers will do it.

For example, in 1997, when a signal from outside the Earth’s atmosphere and apparently extraterrestrial was detected, it took the New York Times just 15 hours to discover and call the institute. The signal turned out to be regular telemetry from the SOHO spacecraft, but the media was already covering it heavily. No major conflicts or military escalation were found either.

Wisian and John Traphagan believe that radio telescopes and extraterrestrial life researchers should increase their safety in case of detection. Many scientists are concerned about this proposal, because given the number of people who believe that the government and military are now hiding aliens, such an approach is likely to lead to the above negative scenario.

On the other hand, Wright, Haramia and Sweeney believe that the transparency and openness of researchers looking for intelligent civilizations in space is the key to facing the possible risks that may arise in the global arena. Governments and the general public should be aware of the possible scenarios.

Shostak believes that the most important thing that people and politicians should pay attention to is that the detected signal does not represent a potential danger.

The closest star is almost 4 light years away. This distance is too great for a modern spacecraft. If an alien civilization with evil intentions is able to quickly overcome this path, why should they send a signal in advance?

Should we respond to an alien signal?
In 2010, the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) published a Declaration of Principles Concerning the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

It states that after a conclusive discovery, there should be no answer without international consultation.

However, Shostak believes concerns about a response are highly moot. Our television broadcasts and airport radars have been sending signals into space for decades. The aliens can simply send a message, thus confirming that they have heard us.

The Wright, Haramia, and Sweeney study has been accepted for publication in Space Policy and is available on arXiv.

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