posted on Aug, 24 2005 @ 08:49 AM
In the unlikely event that we somehow developed the technology for interstellar flight overnight, I think that any expansion away from Earth, or at
least away from our immediate solar system, would be extremely cautious. We have a fairly good idea what conditions in our own solar system are like,
so I would predict that there would be a rush by various nations to secure valuable resources in our own neighbourhood, so to speak. The effect would
almost be a goldrush scenario on a cosmic scale as different nations raced to lay claim to the best real estate. With this kind of technology, mining
on Mars and other bodies throughout the solar system becomes a real possibility and I am sure that nations would be eager to derive resources from
these newly available sources.
The reason why I think we would approach genuine interstellar travel with caution is the simple fact that we do not know what or who else is out
there. For all we know, the first aliens we encounter might view us as a threat and annihilate us. I am confident that the nations of the Earth would
work together to some extent to develop a series of defences to ensure the safety of Earth's immediate surroundings prior to any explorations outside
of our solar system. We could have early warning systems and long-range sensors on Pluto, weapons platforms at the outer edge of our solar system and
unmanned probes to send before us to at least give us an idea of what we might expect.
When the playground opens up, so do the chances for danger. Doubtless the human spirit and thirst for knowledge will overcome our trepidation, but
expect it to take a while. Star Trek is one thing. It is easy to venture out into the cosmos when you have friendly aliens supporting you and you know
that most of the aliens you encounter will be at your approximate level of development. The first aliens we encounter may be so much more advanced
then us that they might not even recognise us as living, sentient beings. We just don't know and that will slow any exploration or colonisation
As for uniting humanity, I don't think that the advent of interstellar travel, by itself, would prompt this. The primary reason is simply that, with
the opening up of the solar system and, later, other solar systems, there are more resources and more knowledge to compete for. Similarly, I think
that the discovery of a benevolent alien race would not automatically unify mankind. Although a joint group of human representatives would doubtless
be assembled, I can foresee different nations attempting to bargain with the aliens on an individual basis.
The only thing I can foresee that would immediately and automatically unify the human race would be contact with a hostile species of alien. Humans
are nothing if not survivors and I believe that if we were faced with the option of co-operation or annihilation, we would choose to pool our
resources and stand together as one race.
As humanity became more comfortable with space exploration and developed more and more colonies, I think that we would see some form of unified human
governing body to administer this new space empire. This would be especially pertinent as colonies became increasingly independent, in order to
prevent interstellar civil war.
On a slightly different point, I wonder what our reaction would be if we discovered that we were actually more advanced then most of the species we
encountered. What would our duty of care be then? I think it is also important to note that, in my opinion, it is dangerous to play with technologies
that we do not understand (as would presumably be the case with any form of overnight discovery of this magnitude). Would we go forth into space as
explorers, settlers, or conquerors?