At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of the Sciences in San Jose, scientists debated whether sending radio messages to possible alien civilizations on distant planets would be a good idea. Such signals or messages could be sent with the help of signals aimed at areas in our galaxy where earth-like planets and life are more likely to also exist.
Steven Hawking seems to be totally against this initiative, calling it catastrophic. He explained back in 2010 that alien civilisations, some of which may be more technologically advanced than us may thus come to our planet and exploit its resources.
“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,”
As far as the communication method is concerned, scientists from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) are of the opinion that sending an active signal in order to search for alien life, an action called Messages to Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI), is far more efficient than using radio telescopes for detecting unusual signals.
METI signals are meant to be sent to parts of other galaxies where planets that resemble Earth’s structure could contain life. The impressive discoveries made by the Kepler space telescope, which found more than 1,000 Earth-like planets in nearby galaxies encouraged the messaging initiative, despite older warnings made by scientists.
Among less threatening concerns is the one belonging to radio astronomer Frank Drake, who said the METI signals are a waste of time right now. He explained that what humans are attempting through these signals is comparable to trying to send emails to unknown email addresses belonging to someone you don’t even know.
Hawking’s warnings received even more attacks coming from colleagues who are more than intrigued by the SETI activity. Dr. Douglas A. Vakoch, Director of the Interstellar Message Composition program replied:
“If we can come to understand the messages of an independently evolved civilization, if we can get a glimpse into how they experience their worlds, we will have a mirror to hold up to ourselves, giving us a deeper appreciation of what makes us distinctively human.”
For a lot of people understanding the context we are in is more important than staying away from risks we can’t even conceive.