The METI project (Messaging to Extraterrestrial Intelligence) seems more a chapter of human vanity than real science and, as many scholars suggest such Stephen Hawking, it can be risky, dangerous, because it could attract an unknown hostile civilization to our tiny planet with unthinkable consequences. It is by sure a very pessimistic speculation, but it is so far as the most prudent one. Just think if the Aztecs would start to send messages on bottles across the Atlantic to possible intelligent civilizations in unknown continents telling where they were located, how their people were organized and how much gold they had… Something is sure: the Aztecs did not need to do so and they were found by Hernán Cortez, who in the name of an “intelligent civilization” destroyed their kingdom.
Searching for Earth-like-planets, instead, is a duty of all of us. It is because our human species is in constant move and our survival depends from it. We cannot wait the far long time when our sun will die and our human species and all life we know will end just in a supernova exploitation or a Neutron Star collision with Earth.
The best ethical principle I have heard on dealing with possible extraterrestrial life (intelligent or not) comes from Karl Sagan in the Cosmos’ chapter “Blues for a Red Planet“. He says:
“There would be a time when Mars is totally explored. What then, what we should do with Mars? If there is life in Mars then we should do nothing to disturb that life. Mars then belongs to the Martians, even if small they are: microbes.”
There are some principles we should start to develop in the event we find life in other planets and we could reach to those planets:
- Care for our own planet. We should increase our duty to preserve life on earth and to appreciate the earth intelligence. When we look for extraterrestrial intelligence, we should know also that we have many species that are intelligent on earth out of the human being and in many cases we are not honoring those intelligent beings.
- Humanity as a whole. In any extraterrestrial event, for good or for bad, humanity must stand together in unity, above political principles, religions, financial interests, races, cultures or languages, including all humanity, the most advance and the most natural civilizations.
- Respect for extraterrestrial life. We don’t have the right to destroy, alter or transfer extraterrestrial life. We do so only in the event of a mutual danger, hostility from that extraterrestrial life against us in the intention to destroy us, or in the fact that moving such extraterrestrial life would mean its salvation before any tragic event.
- Not imposition. We restraint from imposing our ideologies, cultures, religions or thinking to any extraterrestrial civilization that is less developed than our civilizations. We take care than our interchange with such extraterrestrial civilization is made in a context of equal opportunities and mutual benefits. Any cultural acquisition from such less developed civilizations would be done only from a sole decision of such civilization.
- Not discrimination. We are going to avoid any discrimination on species, as we do with human races, before extraterrestrial civilizations in the case of a friendly co-existence, even if we go to stay in their planets or if they come to stay in our planet. Any co-existence with extraterrestrial life should be fully documented by our scientists to avoid natural disasters such as transmission of unknown diseases or any other natural effect that could put in danger such co-existence.
- Universal customs. We must agree in a universal custom in the event of a cultural interchange with extraterrestrial civilizations, meaning that extraterrestrial objects, technologies, biological material, etc, should be examined and approved by a global authority, as well as objects, technologies and biological material from earth intended to reach other living planets.
- Conquest and sovereignties. We understand as the concept of conquest only the space appropriation of planets or astronomical objects without civilizations, even natural civilizations such some of the ones we have on earth. In the case we find a natural civilization (not technological) living in a planet, we recognize the full sovereignty of that planet and its solar system to that civilization, either if it is much less advanced than our civilization. At the same time, we reject any intention of any extraterrestrial technological civilization to conquer our planet or our solar system, either it would be a part of it or a whole. We should include all the solar system as the full sovereignty of humanity, including all astronomical objects under the gravity of the Sun. We recognize a share sovereignity of the solar system only with any extraterrestrial civilization that comes from the same soslar system. In such case, we should celebrate agreements under the common fraternity of a single star: the Sun.
- Universal legislation. We should celebrate agreements with any extraterrestrial civilization to impose a common legislation that allows an universal co-existence in peace and harmony.
Messages to extraterrestrial life
There are some points we should consider:
The Earth is sending messages into space since we created the radio. It means more than hundred years ago (Dvorsky, 2013.) If there is extraterrestrial life in other solar systems of galaxies, they could detect us from many other factors:
For example, they could figure out that life is here by analyzing the spectrum of reflected ultraviolet, optical, and near-infrared sunlight from the Earth’s surface and atmosphere. Or, an ETI could learn of our technological civilization by detecting artificial nighttime lighting of large urban areas, or by detecting exaggerated amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (Dvorsky, 2013, para. 15)
Now well, we have to consider that intelligence life does not mean only fellows like humans. In our planet we have several intelligent beings such as the wales, dogs, cats, lions, etc. They all are intelligent lives. If you send a radio message to the Amazon forest, all those intelligent animals will be unavailable to get such message and to answer to it. Therefore, it is probably that there are planets with intelligent life but not technological intelligent life (TIL) like us. When we send messages into space, it would be detected and answer only by TIL. It is probably that humanity is the only TIL in the universe or it is also possible that the next TIL is farther than what we can imagine and so our messages would reach in millions of years.
Recently neuropsychologist Gabriel G de la Torre concluded that our humanity lacks the enough preparation to contact extraterrestrial life. Most people in all our planet does not know what it is about. We don’t know the Universe. Torre proposed to increase knowledge on this topic through education and I am fully agree, but adding also movies! Normally people know about UFO stories and many believe in them. Right now some speculations about MH370 Malaysian flight disappearance finish in stories like multi-dimensional gates and UFO kidnapping (I believe more in a terrorist hypothesis that Kuala Lumpur is hiding.) We have also thousands of movies and science fiction books, many of them with good principles. With the evolve of astronomy, we can predict a great evolution of science fiction material (I dream to see a movie with interestelar crafts where we can see how to resolve the problem of gravity and distance and that explosions on space don’t have sound, as it is in an empty space: see this awful film of a battle on empty space with sounds as they were inside the planet… ignorant script writer…) One thing we should know: in the case of an extraterrestrial contact, militaries and politicians like the President of US (as it is always in all movies) must be kept far from the extraordinary event. The most authorized bodies would be of course astronomical institutes like NASA, anthropologists, universities and the United Nations… another group that should keep as far as possible from that event is the one of religious leaders… they would create a big mess and the aliens could think we are a hostile species.
I don’t think aliens have reason to invade the Earth. We are talking of high technological civilizations, of course. Karl Sagan had the idea that more advanced civilizations to humans would be rather peaceful, because they would overcome the point of selfdestruction… we all are in that point… just watch tonight the international news and you will understand what is about that point. This idea of Sagan was very optimistic and influenced our current search not only for intelligence life but habitable planets. But high technological civilizations could be hostile as well. Anyway, you can read here a good reflection from io9 why aliens could come all this way just to invade the Earth.