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Moral, social and ethical implications of calling ET

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posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 01:32 PM
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I've often pondered the implications of a real "ET" were one to ever be discovered. It raises broad ranging scientific, ethical and moral questions with potential answers running the entire spectrum from utopian to civilization ending ones.

So, let's say that tomorrow scientists at SETI stumbled upon an absolutely unmistakable signal from an "ET" civilization. Let's further say that not only is the message unmistakable as ET, but it is specifically directed at the human race on planet Earth. What should be done next?

"Hey, Earthlings, we know you're there. Hit us up; we'd like to chat you up." (just kidding about the lexicon of course)

Now what?

Countless books, movies and other science fiction productions have postulated over this concept for hundreds of years, mostly for entertainment value, but has the concept ever been discussed seriously?

As I see it, it would take months (possibly even years) to validate throughout the scientific community, but how would this happen?

Here are some questions I find interesting to ponder...

1. First off, what obligations does the discoverer of said signal have to tell anyone else about it at all? By not telling them he could be imposing some injustice on the human race of galactic proportion. By telling them he could very well be solely responsible for the end of civilization as we know it. Pretty big cross to bear.

So, let's say he does tell others in the scientific community about it. Does this trigger an unstoppable worldwide chain of events?

2. So, after a couple of years (if we last that long), the scientific community all unanimously agree it's ET calling. Should we call ET back?

3. Who has the authority to make this decision to call ET back? And how would you ever come to consensus on this question in a World with so many cultures and ideologies?

4. Is there a human being, or group of human beings, who even have the right to make this decision to contact ET?

....and here's where it starts getting skeery....

5. Inevitably, after a while, someone is going to be bent on contacting ET regardless of what everyone else thinks. Even if the World agrees, "BAD BAD IDEA", there will be some person or group who will say "Screw 'em...we're gonna do it anyway!!" Whether it be from greed or lust of power, someone will do it. So once the discovery is out in the public, is there any way to STOP mankind from reaching out to ET? (see question #1) And is there a moral justification for doing this?

6. On the one hand, one could argue that it is the very nature of mankind to seek knowledge and understanding. On the other hand, one could rejoinder that it is the process of Natural Selection and the notion of 'survival of the fittest' which motivates mankind to seek knowledge and understanding because with it comes wealth, power and survival. Both noble causes, but completely different reasoning. Which path is morally correct?

7. What motivations would a real ET have for contacting us in the first place? Is he just seeking enlightenment, or does he want something.

8. Where is he, WHAT is he, what is his world like? Does he have something we want? All questions which would be in the forefront of different people's minds, but would "curiousity get the better of the cat" (as it were)?

One 'phone' call which would most likely permanently change the course of human history for all of civilization, possibly for the better or possibly for the worse.

So what if ET really did "phone home"...then what?

I wonder.




posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 01:56 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

i did respond but don't have permission to post in this forum!!!!! i am not retyping, but, i think 3 4 and 5 (from the top of my head went)

Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster / Chuck Norris
edit on 2016-07-31T14:04:55-05:002016Sun, 31 Jul 2016 14:04:55 -0500bSunday0407America/Chicago162 by corblimeyguvnor because: changed from 2 3 4 to 3 4 5



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 01:59 PM
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I think the "evidence" we have already, albeit most circumstantial, shows that they are here already.
I also think that the lack of any electromagnetic signals detected really mean that they have another way of communicating that we cannot yet receive, transmit or decipher.

Even if we did receive something, the vast time difference to get a message out is most likely in the hundreds to thousands of years in transit, so phoning ET is really out of the question.

It is also a "Careful what you wish for" scenario as well. We do not really know why they would want to contact us, and most likely in the same context of one of us trying to communicate with a cow. What value would that communication be, if they are advanced enough to be here?

History has shown us what happens when advanced civilizations encounter the lesser advanced. It usually does not go so well for the latter. I would say that laying low is the best option when you do not know what you are dealing with.



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 02:01 PM
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"moral, social, and ethical" kind of beg the question for me. With 7 billion people on the planet you will have answers to those kinds of questions all over the board. There isn't one answer, and for there to BE one, it would have to be enforced. So I look upon the implications here from a more practical, i.e.: non-moral, non-philosophical, standpoint.

1. The first issue is that people will claim that it's a conspiracy by TPTB to enforce a move toward a global new world order. In other words, the communication is fake. No one will be able to shake this belief because, you know, chemtrails are real.

2. the second issue involved the Laws of Physics as we know them. Assuming this "communication" did not come from within our solar system, you'd have to postulate FTL travel to even begin believing this. It's certainly possible that our radio waves could have reached nearby stars by now, so we COULD get a communication back. But what practical consequences come from that? We can't get to them; they can't get to us. So it's a pen pal relationship with a very long time between letters.

You could say, well, add in that FTL travel is possible, or inter-dimensions, but that's faking it and putting this in the realm of science fiction. We don't have Warp Drive. Jodie Foster is an actress, and our present-day science says it is impossible. There's been a lot of speculation about parallel universes, but we simply do not have the scientific infrastructure to support that and String Theory doesn't cut it.

Now I'm not claiming that all this is actually impossible. Perhaps some 21st century Einstein will come along and say, "Hey, kids, you're banging your head against the wall. The door is over here." and we'll all be enlightened and none of what I said is impossible will be impossible at all. A breakthrough of that kind could happen.

But we're not there yet.



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 02:05 PM
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a reply to: charlyv

I was avoiding the physics of the transmission by consciously omitting ET's location so as not to get into a time dilation which is more scientific than the moral / ethical focus.

But yes, absolutely there is the very real potential of getting into a "Careful what you wish for" scenario!



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 02:12 PM
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a reply to: schuyler

Yes, as I noted, I left out ET's location intentionally to avoid the whole FTL and physics elements of the discussion.

I can remember as a young boy in the 60/70's watching an episode of The Outer Limits (I think it may have even been the 1st one) wherein this fella makes contact with an ET (from Venus) I think it was. I don't remember the exact details, but he basically gives them directions to Earth and invites them over. Of course the whole thing turns into a nightmare when the super-aliens show up and start taking over the planet. I can remember being captivated by the moral / ethical conundrum created by such a scenario.

It may well have lead to my pursuit of physics in college.




edit on 7/31/2016 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 02:12 PM
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originally posted by: Flyingclaydisk
a reply to: charlyv

I was avoiding the physics of the transmission by consciously omitting ET's location so as not to get into a time dilation which is more scientific than the moral / ethical focus.

But yes, absolutely there is the very real potential of getting into a "Careful what you wish for" scenario!



The other side of that perhaps, with a super advanced extraterrestrial race, that they are advanced enough to realize that they should leave lesser developed planets pretty much alone as far as contact and interaction. They may need something here, and that is probably why they visit us. Basically, I guess they can take what they want, as how could we stop them?



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 02:13 PM
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a reply to: FlyingclaydiskI'm sorry we are a mite too late to hide from ET. We have been advertising our presence for over 100 years so if they are listening they will already know we are here.
As for telling if we've recieved a signal let me say that there is a lot more people than Seti listening in.



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 02:17 PM
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a reply to: crayzeed

Ah, but there's another way to look at this...

From an evolutionary standpoint, humans on Earth are somewhere just left of the middle on an evolutionary timeline. This means there should be civilizations much less advanced as well as those significantly more advanced elsewhere in the universe. And this number of discrete advanced intelligent civilizations must be near infinite. A large subset of these intelligent species would, in the course of their evolution, strive to understand the basic laws of physics.

They would discover things like electricity, magnetism, strong and weak atomic forces, etc. They would also discover radio in some form. However, being far more advanced than Earthlings, they would have made these same discoveries millions upon millions of years ago. Their RF signal "bubble" would extend millions of light years further than Earth's. So, while they might not have discovered us (yet), we almost certainly would have discovered them by now.

This is the concept upon which the SETI program is based. The search for extraterrestrial life began in the late 1800's, and was more formalized into SETI in 1971.

So, what exactly has ET "phoned home" to us since 1971???

Exactly zero.

Is it possible this is just a statistical anomaly? Yes, but statistically speaking it is unlikely.

If extraterrestrial life does exist in the universe it is likely so far distant from Earth to make it very unlikely to be discovered during human's little blip of existence on our little blue orb in a distant 'average' solar system.

Conclusion: "ET, phone home!"....crickets

In any case, if it does just turn out to be a statistical anomaly, we as a civilization should be prepared to deal with some of the implications and questions such an event would cause.



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 02:20 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

So often, I don't take things seriously, but in this one instance, I will try.

If I could imagine an intelligent, space-faring race, I'd have to ask myself, "What would it benefit them to contact us"?

If they have access to a myriad of planets, and a myriad of resources, then why bother with an obvious primitive war-like species?



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 02:28 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

It may be that earth is on a quarantine list.

Like were on some prison island with a sign: CONTACT EARTH AT YOUR OWN RISK!

If you looked down on the earth and saw wars, mass murders, crime, disease, and all the usual wonderful earth based issues, would you be anxious to get involved with such a species?


I think not




edit on 31-7-2016 by Willtell because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 02:30 PM
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a reply to: Willtell

Well, that depends; it's a matter of perspective really. If I looked down on Earth from say a desolate home planet similar to Mars, or the Moon, that might give me pause to consider it.

ETA...oh, I was never really suggesting ET had any friendly intentions. In fact, I've specifically left this out because we likely wouldn't know what intentions ET had until we reached out to him. (My 'chat you up' reference was purely tongue and cheek).






edit on 7/31/2016 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 02:38 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Voices in the science community have been discussing the implications for decades.

Some think it's a great idea to send out signals and call them in like a river pilot and lighthouse - "We're over here! Say hello! Come and visit!" They've been trying since the 1960s with maybe the most famous being the gold disc on board Voyager. There was a more recent one that sent messages to a star system and I can't remember which group did it.

On the other side, guys like Stephen Hawking take the view that ET civilisations will be predatory as hell and best to be avoided. Some of the theorists who look for artificial artifacts and intelligences share the view that it's best to know who they are before giving out our addresses and telephone numbers - number 1 rule of dating. It's been argued that we might not be able to the signatures of Intelligence because they're all deliberately keeping their lights under the proverbial bushel.


"If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans," he said.

Prof Hawking thinks that, rather than actively trying to communicate with extra-terrestrials, humans should do everything possible to avoid contact.

He explained: "We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet."
Stephen Hawking warns over making contact with aliens

Personally, it reminds me of bad horror movies. You know *that* one where someone wonders into a creepy old house and hears a noise. Instead of staying quiet, they start shouting "Hello?? Hello?? Is there anyone in here??!"

We all know how that ends



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 02:38 PM
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The aliens are afraid of human beings.

Just like we are when we enter a lion’s cage without a bazooka

They know humans are too emotionally unstable to know about aliens for a certainty



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 02:48 PM
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The alien phenomenon I personally believe has multiple possibilities.

One is, I believe, that they are here because of the nuclear bombs and the potential humans have garnered to blow up the earth and other parts of the solar system.

The aliens, though, understand that to reveal themselves has positive and negative ramifications therefore have done a contact effort piecemeal and where it won’t be a certainty.

Human beings are just too fragile for this to be revealed completely.

You have to understand that if that is going to happen the aliens WILL THEN HAVE TO CONQUER HUMANITY!

Why?

They’ll either have to heal humankind, destroy us or control us



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 02:49 PM
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originally posted by: DBCowboy
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

So often, I don't take things seriously, but in this one instance, I will try.

If I could imagine an intelligent, space-faring race, I'd have to ask myself, "What would it benefit them to contact us"?

If they have access to a myriad of planets, and a myriad of resources, then why bother with an obvious primitive war-like species?

For the same reason we would, Cowboy.



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 02:51 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

As far as I'm aware there is no obligation to tell other than a moral obligation , sooner or later I think a discovery of that scale would leak out so I think we would be told if the signal was confirmed.

I'd imagine first contact would be assigned to the UN but depending on the distance of the signal's origin it would be a very long time between messages.


edit on 31-7-2016 by gortex because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 02:56 PM
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a reply to: Klassified

I'd think of it from a cost-benefit angle.

We can't be so unique that an alien race would expend so much energy/cost to just "study" us.

I just don't see the feasibility in it.



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 03:03 PM
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We should have talked about this more but the current climate is not suitable for this. Too many people who are still afraid of the great unknown all around us. Some still believing we are the only ones. And enough people who deem anything which has to do with aliens as mentally ill.

Some scientists have said the universe is likely teeming with life. We should be preparing for the worst. We might be like the native americans back a few centuries who might have thought they were the only ones on the planet, or at least had no idea of europeans. Imagine if they had someone who said they weren't alone and they should prepare for the war because some day white people would find them. We should be like that, unite and put all our efforts into building up a huge force so we are able to defend ourselves in case it is necessary. We could have at least thought up many different planets and civilizations, like in movies only more educational and scientific, less suspension and thrills. That way if we ever get contacted, or find some other civilization, we might be able to quickly understand them and their motives. But as it is we are completely unprepared except what we know of Hollywood stuff and that is often very unrealistic and might get us all wiped.
edit on 31-7-2016 by johnnyjoe1979 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 31 2016 @ 03:32 PM
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originally posted by: Flyingclaydisk

1. First off, what obligations does the discoverer of said signal have to tell anyone else about it at all? By not telling them he could be imposing some injustice on the human race of galactic proportion. By telling them he could very well be solely responsible for the end of civilization as we know it. Pretty big cross to bear.

The fact is that it is unlikely that a signal could be received by just one station, or one monitoring individual, without that event setting off an automated chain of communications to several other people, institutions and receiving stations. But if we are asking, whether there is a moral obligation on the part of a body, to alert the general public to the fact of this signals existence, then of course, yes there is. All efforts to discover alien life begin and end with the people of this planet, their curiosity, and their willingness to fund efforts to explore the universe, both publicly and privately. There are no bodies on this planet who are in a position to legitimise secrecy, without that secrecy on this matter, constituting the theft of intellectual property from its owners.

Understand, if you intercept my mail, I am coming for you with a brick bat. If you intercept a message meant for a world, and keep it for a few, we come not with bats, but with blades.


2. So, after a couple of years (if we last that long), the scientific community all unanimously agree it's ET calling. Should we call ET back?

I believe we should, depending on the nature of the message of course. If the message is "stay on your rock and we will never bother you. Leave, and we will maim the strong and enslave the weak." Then that's a different kettle of fish entirely, but without knowing either way, it's impossible to make a value judgement about that.


3. Who has the authority to make this decision to call ET back? And how would you ever come to consensus on this question in a World with so many cultures and ideologies?

Only the entire mass of the population of the world, in concert, drawn to a world wide ballot of some nature, perhaps on the net, perhaps otherwise, would have the clout to make that choice.


4. Is there a human being, or group of human beings, who even have the right to make this decision to contact ET?

No. Only the entire mass of the people living on this world at any given time, have the right to decide on something as massive as this. No smaller sample group would be representative in any case, and frankly, it is too big of a decision to trust a small group to make, without being influenced by money, power, or fear.


....and here's where it starts getting skeery....

5. Inevitably, after a while, someone is going to be bent on contacting ET regardless of what everyone else thinks. Even if the World agrees, "BAD BAD IDEA", there will be some person or group who will say "Screw 'em...we're gonna do it anyway!!" Whether it be from greed or lust of power, someone will do it. So once the discovery is out in the public, is there any way to STOP mankind from reaching out to ET? (see question #1) And is there a moral justification for doing this?

There is a way to ensure no one is sending signals to outer space without the permission of the people of earth, and that is to have the precise same level of security at transmitting stations which could conceivably send a signal, as already exists. Most of the highest powered mechanisms which could be used to communicate with outerspace are quite well looked after, in terms of their security. And as for moral justification, of course. If the people are not comfortable with sending a return message, then they have spoken, and no individual has the permission to go against the will of the masses for his or her own gain.


6. On the one hand, one could argue that it is the very nature of mankind to seek knowledge and understanding. On the other hand, one could rejoinder that it is the process of Natural Selection and the notion of 'survival of the fittest' which motivates mankind to seek knowledge and understanding because with it comes wealth, power and survival. Both noble causes, but completely different reasoning. Which path is morally correct?

Actually, many of the people through the ages, who have had the most important ideas about science, enlightenment, and the gaining of raw data, have NOT benefited from it themselves very much, certainly not when compared with those who have perfected the technologies and methods of study that those early pioneers discovered. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge, study for the pure love of study, has greater value than all the mission oriented science that has ever been done in the entire world. Learn because of the love of the subject matter, or do not learn. That is the way I roll anyway.


7. What motivations would a real ET have for contacting us in the first place? Is he just seeking enlightenment, or does he want something.

8. Where is he, WHAT is he, what is his world like? Does he have something we want? All questions which would be in the forefront of different people's minds, but would "curiousity get the better of the cat" (as it were)?

One 'phone' call which would most likely permanently change the course of human history for all of civilization, possibly for the better or possibly for the worse.

So what if ET really did "phone home"...then what?

I wonder.




As to the motivations, nature, attitude and so on, of an alien species, who the hell could possibly say? There is no way to know without conversing with that species, and so it is impossible to say.

My attitude to all of these things is that they are immaterial. The only key questions for me are as follows: Do my fellow humans value the pursuit of knowledge above the pursuit of safety and comfort? I do, but if I am in a minority in that regard, then it is likely that if it ever came up, we would never find out anything other than our own limitations, rather than the true nature and extent of life in the universe.




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