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flutherother's avatar

What are the chances aliens would be benign?

Asked by flutherother (30158points) February 17th, 2015

If we were to encounter an alien civilisation what are the odds it would be:
a) Helpful and encouraging to humans
b) Neutral
c) Hostile.

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23 Answers

ucme's avatar

They could be either of those, people will tell you any alien life form that has the technology to reach our solar system, by definition, must have hostile intent.
I don’t hold that view, there are any number of reasons why they might attempt contact, we won’t know until it happens.

flutherother's avatar

OK, but I was looking for percentages. Obviously there isn’t much to go on but what is your gut feeling 100% hostile, 100% benign or some percentage in between?.

ucme's avatar

Ok, if I was to bet on it, i’d ignore the favourite (hostile) & gamble on peaceful/helpful.
Expect a decent payout at odds of around 2/1

talljasperman's avatar

They will be friendly until we piss them off. About the good news, and crazy laws. Someone will take a pot shot of the spaceship with a rifle and start a war.

tinyfaery's avatar

50/50 We have no other information to make any other estimate.

ragingloli's avatar

In my estimation, not good.
On earth, in general, intelligence is a property of predatory species, humans included.
An alien civilisation is therefore more likely to arise from a predator than not.
Instincts are hard to beat, and unless they have bred or engineered those traits out of their genome, they will still have those.
Take humans. You call yourself civilised, but even western nation still wage war, still oppress their citizens, their entire economic system is based on exploitation and quasi slavery.
Not to mention, that every bit of technology that would enable you to travel to the stars is the result of war. Rockets: a self propelled bomb. Computers: a tool to control weapons and crack enemy encryption. nuclear energy: a big fat bomb. Space stations: orbital weapons and espionage platforms.
Go out into space, meet an alien civilisation, and your initial intent may be benign, but once politics and economic interests come into play it is only a matter of time until it would degenerate into a repetition of history.
And there is also a simple rule that I think can be safely assumed: Any alien civilisation will place a higher priority on their own existence, safety and agendas, than yours, or that of any other civilisation that is not their own.

ucme's avatar

It may even depend on circumstances, whether they come to us, or we stumble across them.
Territorial instincts could kick in if, many years from now, we somehow make first contact.

flutherother's avatar

@ragingloli I like your analysis, but wouldn’t warlike tendencies be more likely in recently developed civilisations. Wouldn’t long established civilizations have mellowed over time? We have only been ‘civilized’ for 5,000 years or less, what about a 100,000 year old civilization or one a million years old?

ragingloli's avatar

To put it in other words, you probably will not find a lot of Vulcans. You will not find a lot of Klingons either. But you will encounter lots of Romulans.

In regards to themselves, perhaps.
In regards to other civilisations, I would not count on it, especially since they can not be sure about civilisations alien to them.

elbanditoroso's avatar

No way to know.

If they’re smart enough to have explored the galaxies, then one would hope that they are sufficiently intelligent to be befriend a lesser civilization like ours.

But there’s no telling.

I can predict though – in an intergalactic war between Earth and any other opponent, Earth will lose big time.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Well, let’s think about the odds. How many human encounters with new life forms or even new human civilizations have begun with benign and respectful negotiations? Pretty much none. Why should we hope to be treated any better?

stanleybmanly's avatar

@ragingloli Following your argument, in view of our own plight, isn’t it reasonable to assume that those predatory aliens will have mastered and subdued those tendencies if they have avoided their own self destruction long enough to advance well beyond us? It is rather clear that our own civilization is already at a stage that a few determined lunatics stand a reasonable chance of destroying us all.

ucme's avatar

Fuck it, maybe they’ll turn out to be thick as shite:

stanleybmanly's avatar

@elbanditoroso If they’re smart enough to have explored THIS galaxy, they’ve probably taken a look at us and decided to restrict any living thing from approaching our barbaric world. The smart thing would be to quarantine this violent place and wait for the occupants to either blow themselves out of existence or learn to master their homicidal tendencies. If forced to bet on whether or not we will make it, my money’s on no.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I have a feeling that if we ever develop the technology to wander a good distance away from here, we will be rudely confronted by the galactic police with the humiliating news that violent emotional animals with lizard hind brains are not allowed outside their zoo.

Kropotkin's avatar

I think it would depend on their economic system.

An alien race of capitalists would come here to use us as slaves and deplete the Earth’s resources for a profit.

Pachy's avatar

If any terrestrial civilizations we meet are more advanced than we (a fair assumption), and using Earth history as a yardstick, I vote for C !!

kritiper's avatar

As in Star Trek, they would have something like the “Prime Directive.”

kritiper's avatar

@flutherother Being totally civilized is a concept that only an arrogant race such as ourselves can conceive. To some we may be civilized, to others, no. Some of us might be civilized, but definitely not all of us! My opinion? We are so NOT civilized! Any race of people visiting from afar would do well to keep their distance and their existence unknown.

talljasperman's avatar

For all we know they can all be tentacle raping perverts who love Star Trek and Dr. Who.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Thinking about the countries that participated in exploration and empire building, how many of those countries had a benign effect on the civilisations and cultures they encountered? While some actions might have helped the Indigenous inhabitants in some ways, mostly colonisers exploited the people they encountered and the resources from each country.

The explorers who went out to discover unknown lands took with them disease so even unintentionally, they weren’t benign.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It seems to me that the idea of us traveling through space to encounter an alien civilization far in advance of our own is not nearly as likely, as that far advanced civilization having discovered our existence already. After all, they must certainly have been at the traveling business a LOT longer than we. In addition the fact that they would have managed to develop such capabilities and avoided their own self destruction could only be likely if the creatures have acquired a level of emotional stability many stages beyond our own. That’s the BIG consideration. Can a violent war mongering civilization survive long enough to develop interstellar capabilities? Personally, I doubt very much if we’re going to get away with it. But suppose we manage to beat the odds? Now let’s suppose there are more advanced races roaming the galaxy, and they’ve been monitoring us. Now what might get them excited regarding our future prospects? Well it’s a curious coincidence that there’s been such a deluge of UFO incidents after our detonation of nuclear devices in the atmosphere. Perhaps E.T. alarmed by the implications, implemented emergency measures to archive every bit of data about our rock because of the high probability that we were on the verge of incineration. It’s certainly the route we would take, and we’re PRIMITIVE.

It’s all speculation, but consider an advanced race of creatures watching our appalling behavior down here. In view of our treatment of the other creatures here, let alone OURSELVES, does anyone suppose for a second that we will be permitted to spread this sort of crap throughout the galaxy?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

If they could get here, then they are more technically advanced and probably can do what they wish with us.

If they are anything like humans, then I wouldn’t bet on our survival. I cite the historic record when one technologically superior human population encountered one less technologically advanced. Invariably the more technically advanced attempted to annihilate the lesser, often successfully. From the Biblical wars of the Israelites against the whole uncircumcised world around them to our own Indian wars, population cleansing was the policy throughout known world history. Many times it was about land or some other natural resource wanted by the the more technically advanced culture.

Other times it was simply in order to eradicate people with different belief systems, such as the encounters between the Europeans—especially the Spaniards—and the aboriginals of the New World (and the Moors, and the Jews, and the Protestants…), or the National Socialists and the European Jewish population, or the eradication of democratic Kampucheans under Pol Pot, or the religious war between the the Hutus and the Tutsis, or the cleansing that is going on right now by the Muslim Sudanese government against the Christian tribes in Darfour. Or the sizzling crisis between the radically conservative, fundamentalist Muslims and the western developed nations and their allies—again, a promise of complete, thorough annihilation.

Why should aliens be any different? Why should they deal when all they have to do is take? After all, we aren’t them or probably anything like them. It’s very easy to kill other animals once you can convince yourself that they are lower in the in the evolutionary scheme, or without souls, or whatever.

We can only hope that, along with their technical advancements, they are advanced in other ways as well—and are nothing like us.

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