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Does Active SETI Put Earth in Danger? 647

Posted by Zonk
from the omg-greys dept.
Ponca City, We Love You writes "There is an interesting story in Seed Magazine on active SETI — sending out signals to try to contact other civilizations in nearby star systems. Alexander Zaitsev, Chief Scientist at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Radio Engineering and Electronics, has access to one of the most powerful radio transmitters on Earth and has already sent several messages to nearby, sun-like stars. But some scientists think that Zaitsev is not only acting out of turn by independently speaking for everyone on the entire planet but believe there are possible dangers we may unleash by announcing ourselves to the unknown darkness. This ground has been explored before in countless works of science fiction most notably "The Killing Star," a 1995 novel that paints a frightening picture of interstellar civilizations exterminating their neighbors with relativistic bombardments, not from malice, but simply because it is the most logical action."
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Does Active SETI Put Earth in Danger?

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  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:58PM (#21688052) Homepage Journal
    Yes it does.

    We should conquer and colonize another planet first, then send active SETI signals from there instead.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:11PM (#21688304)
      Actually, it is very dangerous. The signals have been causing a certain alien's garage door to open and close relentlessly ever since they started, making him very angry and he's up to Illudium Q-35 now.
    • by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:13PM (#21688342) Homepage Journal
      Don't think of it as active SETI,think of it as a survey marker for the new hyper-space bypass.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        I'll drink a few pints to that.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Hyper-space bypasses are planning matters. They have nothing to do with whether or not we send signals into space.

        I'd be more concerned about what we're sending being interpreted as an insult, except that the subsequent invasion force would probably be eaten by a small dog.

    • by Flibz (716178) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:14PM (#21688370)
      They, for one, should welcome their human overlords...
    • by DrYak (748999) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:27PM (#21688610) Homepage

      The Enemy is Us


      Which probably could explain why aliens might be more pacific than us.

      What I'm basically saying, is that "peace" is a prerequisite for achieving "space age",
      because "space age" comes only far later after "big weapons" in the technological development,
      and without "peace", a civilisation may blow it's entire planet at the "big weapons" stage, long before being able to achieve "space age".

      Just look at our history :
      As you said, our own worst enemy has always been ourself : the other humans against which we engage war.

      Specially in recent history, we've reached the point where some population have enough warfar technology and power that they might oblitared the whole planet if weapon escalation runs out of control.
      Nuclear stockpiling and M.A.D. programs are the epitome of this situation.
      MAD fundamental premise is that nobody will attack because everyone dies in the process of retaliation that follows (except maybe a bunch of politician hiding into caves with lots of young pretty nubile girls, isn't it, Dr Strangelove ?)
      MAD seeks to make atomic war an unaffordable option because of too high cost.
      The implicit consequence is that if someone played fool anyway, we WILL all definitely stop existing.

      And at the same time, we haven't even reached true space travel yet, and we're very far from being able to do it on a large scale. We can only plant a couple of flags on our moon, and send two motorized webcams to the directly neighbouring planet.

      An alien race that is able to detect us AND come toward earth to meet us, must necessarily be extremely advance, far beyond the point at which we are now. Which would possibly mean also having gone through a long story of dangerous technology (military and such).
      If that alien race wasn't deeply motivated to be peaceful, they'll have had a lot of opportunity of blowing themselves up with all discovery they had the time to make before achieving space exploration.
      Only a race that repress its tendency to kill everything can survive technology.

      Even we as human have a small tendency to try to refrain of causing too much destruction.
      In antiquity, pillaging and burning down to grounds enemy cities has been standard military practice, even told in classical literature.
      In the middle ages, having a lot of deaths during wars was considered pretty normal.
      As history progressed more dangerous technology has become available, people start being reluctant using it. Moral value change.
      MAD was a pissing context without (hopefully) any real intent to engage all those nukes.
      Even if atrocities are comited during modern conflict, those are much more criticized by the public (see current opinion about Irak or the various massacres and ethnic cleansing happening under dictatorship).
      Slowly we are discovering that hurting each other may not be the best procedure.

      A lot of the "modern" forms of conflict have moved to much more political and commercial ground. Emerging country don't long anymore to conquest foreign land, only to capture their markets.

      Thus maybe, we ourselves will be able to survive until space age without blowing ourselves up with all military technology we may invent in the process.

      But probably, the first alien race that will meet us will probably be peaceful because other wise, by then, they won't exist anymore.
      • by _Sharp'r_ (649297) <sharper@noSpAM.booksunderreview.com> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:35PM (#21688720) Homepage Journal

        Only a race that repress its tendency to kill everything can survive technology.

        Here, let me fix that for you:

        Only a race that repress its tendency to kill itself can survive technology.

        What eliminates a race that focuses all of its agression against others not of their race? It makes a great external enemy that allows the race itself to work together with a common bond, at peace with itself.

        It's just too bad that we turn out to be one of those "others", huh?

        Oppresive regimes to this all the time on earth, using an "external" enemy to create peace at home in furtherance of opposing the "greater enemy".
        • by Pharmboy (216950) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:51PM (#21692248) Journal
          I also find it ironic that people make these broad claims "if it wasn't for war, just think how far we could be with space", when in fact, the opposite is likely true. Not trying to be rude, but war brings us many neet things, some of them faster than without war, some are only a result of war. Sick, but true:

          Jet engines, radar, rockets, encryption, and thousands of other inventions exist solely because we were looking for better ways to kill people. We got to the moon in the 60s because of a space race /cold war. How many others have gone since then? Exactly none, we won, no one else was interested enough to spend the money.

          As you point out, there is nothing quite like the bond of like minded people when you have a common enemy, be it across the ocean or on another planet. Half the planet uses the U.S. as the common enemy, we use terrorists (used to be communists), etc. If someone would just land here and shoot off a few rounds with a 'ray gun', maybe we could all get along, but we need enemies. We must, since the dawn of time we have always had them.
          • by CarpetShark (865376) on Friday December 14, 2007 @09:27AM (#21696382)

            if it wasn't for war, just think how far we could be with space", when in fact, the opposite is likely true. Not trying to be rude, but war brings us many neet things, some of them faster than without war, some are only a result of war


            This is pure fallacy, although I appreciate that you used the word "likely" rather than speaking in absolutes. Generally, good education comes in peace time. Sharing of ideas comes from openness and trade with other tribes/cultures. Rockets are probably based on fireworks (and aerodynamics), which are based on so-called gunpowder -- something that was not used destructively for for many years after its creation. Radar came about in war, yes, but all of the technology leading up to it was developed in peacetime. That the first need to make the next leap came about because of war is irrelevant; the technology was there, the progress was ready to be made, and if the technique was needed, someone would have made that leap.

            As someone once said, "the tradegy of war is that it uses man's best to do man's worst". War is destructive, not creative. Those involved in war often claim credit for things either through delusion, or power. That does not mean that the warlike people, warlike ideals, or even warlike circumstances are the reasons such things exist. I'm sure da vinci would've preferred to work on less lethal things, if less lethal people had held the money and power.
          • by gnuman99 (746007) on Friday December 14, 2007 @02:51PM (#21700416)
            Sorry, but bullshit.

            Most efficient jet engines are for commercial planes. Everything else you mention was advanced because of stability where it was invented, not destruction. Just look at how much positive science is coming out of Palestine or Iraq or Afghanistan. The last one should be the pinnacle of human knowledge - they had was for almost 30 years now!

            Military is waste. Period. Anything positive that comes out of it is not by design, it is purely as a side-effect.

            It wasn't the military that got us to the moon. It wasn't the military building ISS. If it was up to military, we would not even have something like Hubble because it is useless.

            Anything positive comes out of the military it is only a side-effect of its intended purpose. And that purpose is to kill and control.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Lijemo (740145)

          What eliminates a[n alien] race that focuses all of its aggression against others not of their [species]?

          Ecological destruction?

          Actually, a big part of the process of civilization and enlightement is expanding the idea of "we". From "we" being just our family, just our clan-- to hey, the people in the next village are human to-- then realization that someone who doesn't look like you is human, too-- then the realization that if all we worry about is humans at the expense of other life-forms on the planet, we end up destroying ourselves anyway, therefore for our civilization to survive, we need to expand "w

      • by Toonol (1057698) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:46PM (#21688928)
        Every technological advancement that we have ever seen has been created by a warlike species. If you want to extrapolate from a sample of one, space-faring aliens to be just as warlike.
      • by Pad-Lok (831143) <jouni@karlsson.sci@fi> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @06:06PM (#21689348)

        What I'm basically saying, is that "peace" is a prerequisite for achieving "space age"

        No, that would be "rocketry" followed by building the "Apollo Programme".
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Blakey Rat (99501)
        What I'm basically saying, is that "peace" is a prerequisite for achieving "space age",

        I've always thought this was BS.

        because "space age" comes only far later after "big weapons" in the technological development,
        and without "peace", a civilisation may blow it's entire planet at the "big weapons" stage, long before being able to achieve "space age".


        To quote Brain Guy in MST3K: "Our race is pacifist. We kill only out of personal spite."

        Not using big weapons doesn't imply peaceful, it only implies not using b
    • Re:The Enemy is Us (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 0xABADC0DA (867955) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @06:01PM (#21689242)

      We should conquer and colonize another planet first, then send active SETI signals from there instead.
      Send out signals from a planet -- lol.

      Build a partial dyson sphere around a somewhat nearby star, even just a vast network of satellites, and use them to turn the light of the star on and off to send an unmistakable binary message. Occasionally this binary message can contain the encrypted 'log' of visitors, so that we can find out about them from any vantage point in the universe (but they ostensibly can't locate us like with some directional signal, unless they can trace our 'subspace signature' somehow).

      This would over time 'draw' aliens to the star while giving some protection against hostile civilizations. We should be looking for something grand like this, not some 'hydrogen times pi' nonsense.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 13, 2007 @04:59PM (#21688088)
    Has this man figured out a way to send signals faster than radio frequency or light? Surely, evidence of our noisy bickering between each other will be interpreted long before his signals anyways. And what about the satellites we have cruising away from our solar system?

    I don't think what Active SETI does is really going to matter at this point in time.
    • by eln (21727) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:06PM (#21688204) Homepage
      It doesn't matter how many radio or TV or any other kind of signals we pollute space with. Everybody knows that we aren't going to be contacted by any alien races until we build a warp drive so they can detect the warp signature.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        You got moderated funny, but I wouldn't be surprised if you are correct. In order to maintain a civilisation over even a small number of star systems you need either faster-than-light communication, or much slower-than-human life cycles. Having two or three generations between sending a message and getting a reply simply would not work. You might send out your latest technological developments, and receive others, but there would be little personal communication.

        If there are aliens with a spacefaring

    • In one acronym: EIRP (Score:4, Informative)

      by mangu (126918) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:35PM (#21688730)
      Radio and TV are broadcast to people here on earth. Those signals are broadcast in a way to propagate over the earth surface, not to outer space. They are sent in a way to maximize their intensity here [wikipedia.org].


      Radio and TV signals will not be propagated very far into space because they aren't directed there. Sending signals to other stars, OTOH, would direct the transmitted power to outer space, not to the earth surface.

    • by xPsi (851544) *
      Time scales are a problem, but so is power. Although we have been broadcasting radio and TV signals from earth for a while, the signal power at any meaningful distance scale is really, really small. From wikipedia [wikipedia.org] (in turn summarized from the SETI FAQ [setifaq.org]): "SETI estimates, for instance, that with a radio telescope as sensitive as the Arecibo Observatory, Earth's television and radio broadcasts would only be detectable at distances up to 0.3 light years. Clearly detecting an Earth type civilization at great d
  • It's too late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KillerCow (213458) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:01PM (#21688108)
    If you read the second link

    ...the television broadcasts we have so rashly been transmitting to the stars for the last 50 years..


    Stopping people from deliberately sending signals is not going to make us invisible. We've been sending signals for decades.
    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      Stopping people from deliberately sending signals is not going to make us invisible. We've been sending signals for decades.

      It might be worth it, in that case, to try send out some signal explaining that the really powerful signals they get are just television. I'd rather the Vulcan survey ship not see American Idol, but if we've got no choice about it, we might as well try to assert with a different broadcast that, despite all the other evidence, we are in fact 'intelligent' beings.

      Or maybe I speak too soon.

    • by had3l (814482) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:17PM (#21688432)
      Yeah, and we all know that we shouldn't send mixed signals to our enemies. That's why I propose we nuke the moon to prove we mean business.
    • by cmacb (547347) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:19PM (#21688468) Homepage Journal
      Not too late...

      If these alien civilizations support the MS Outlook protocol we can simply send out a retract message and clean it all up before they notice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zoomshorts (137587)
      Yes we have been sending crap into the known universe for 50
      or so years.

      This timeframe is but a fly fart in a hurricane, galactically speaking.
      What makes anyone think that intelligent beings will be looking for
      old 'I Love Lucy' episodes, freely radiated into the cosmos?

      Not to worry. Please tell Al Gore also.

  • The UFO theorists (I try to keep an open mind, but I find the existence of UFOs less than probable due to lack of evidence) say that UFOs started visiting (or started visiting heavily) in the middle of the 20th century in response to the nuclear bombs going off. Perhaps someone more versed in science could tell us whether that or Hitler's speech at the 1936 Olympics is easier to detect from space.
    • That's pretty silly. First, on a cosmic scale, nuclear bombs are *tiny*. I don't see why they would be noticeable. At this point, we can't even figure out how to detect a planet as small as Earth orbiting even the closest star, and nuclear explosions are tiny compared to the size of the Earth.

      Second, even if you detected them, it doesn't seem like there'd be anything particular to flag them as a sign of intelligent life. They aren't a continuing pattern or signal-- they're just explosions. Explosions

    • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:57PM (#21689162) Homepage Journal

      Perhaps someone more versed in science could tell us whether that or Hitler's speech at the 1936 Olympics is easier to detect from space.

      I've heard that mentioned a lot, that maybe they'll see our Hitler broadcasts and immediately loathe us.

      Why?

      We think he was horrible, but why would we believe for an instant that an alien might think the same? Maybe some of the powers-that-be up there are scratching their chitinous chins thoughtfully, impressed that we have such men.

      • by cowscows (103644) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @06:31PM (#21689720) Journal
        At an even more basic level, even if an alien race was able to read the radio signal and construct it into an audio/video feed, would they really be able to understand it enough to form a useful opinion on what it meant? The idea of a universal translator is nice for sci-fi shows, but it doesn't seem very likely that a short speech meant for native speakers would enable someone(particularly someone with no previous knowledge of any human language)unfamiliar with the language to make any real sense of it. There just wouldn't be enough context to figure out the meanings of all those sounds. It's probably not even reasonable to expect an alien race to be able to make assumptions based on the speaker's tone and attitude like a human could.
        • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Thursday December 13, 2007 @06:54PM (#21690046) Homepage Journal

          Very true. But even if they did, would it sound inherently bad to someone who had no idea of our morality and values?

          Hitler: We must exterminate the Jews! They are destroying our society!
          Kodos: Wow. Whatever Jews are, they sure are causing that guy a lot of grief. Wonder if he gets it under control?

          Since only a small fraction of news on both sides of the issue was televised, ET might not have enough context even to know that we thought it was bad (although they'd know that at least some other factions didn't like him and his plans, even if they didn't really understand all the reasons).

    • by Trespass (225077) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @06:03PM (#21689274) Homepage
      People started seeing UFOs about the time they stopped seeing angels. Line noise.
  • Inter-stellar communication would almost certainly be perceived as representing the entire planet. No attempt at doing so should be made until some sort of world government has the authority to represent the entire planet.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    How many of you have considered the possibility of Crypto-terrestrials? We keep looking amongst the stars for other intelligent life while ignoring the evidence that it has been here on earth all along.

    Consider this - what if the intelligence behind UFO events, both modern and pre-1940's UFO events like Fatima or Lourdes - is the same intelligence that appears in stories of Fey folk (elves, dwarves, sylphs, succubi, etc)?

    What if we've been looking to the stars when in fact they've been here all along, just
    • Chariots of the Gods [wikipedia.org], read it, get a good laugh, it pretty much covers that topic.
    • by Sciros (986030) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:19PM (#21688460) Journal
      Oh well in that case our magic will work against them so we're fine. Magic doesn't work against extraterrestrials, that's the issue here. When dealing with aliens you can't just wave a wand or plant some beans or pull some sword out of a rock, no sir. You need to either use a gigantor gun with like twelve barrels and a 200-lb magazine that doesn't ever run out of ammo, or cybernetic implants in your body that give you superhuman strength and agility. And while we're not quite far enough on cybernetic implants and gigantor guns that non-Shaq people can even lift, magic's been around for years [lasvegas-nv.com].
  • by kaoshin (110328)
    Chickened of aliens? Bwak Bwak Bwak!!!
  • Most notably? (Score:3, Informative)

    by blincoln (592401) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:05PM (#21688168) Homepage Journal
    Saberhagen's Berserker series? Bear's The Forge of God and Anvil of Stars? What is this The Killing Star that you speak of?
    • Re:Most notably? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @08:09PM (#21691136)
      Even more notably, L. Ron (schmientologist) Hubbard's "Battlefield Earth", where a Psychlo reconnaissance probe picked up one of the Voyagers (in its own way a feeble attempt at communication) and backtracked the machine's course to Earth and ... that was that. After wiping us out with an invulnerable gas drone they simply moved in and began exploiting Earth's mineral resources. Conquest is easy if genocide is on the table.

      By broadcasting the way we are, we're making a couple of assumptions: a. that there are no alien civilizations out there to worry about or b. if there are, they're not actively hostile and capable of making something of it. Neither is a safe assumption. Granted, interstellar distances are a perfect defense against anyone near technological parity with us, but why would we assume that an alien civilization has advanced no further than that?

      Furthermore, some people maintain the (preposterous) belief that any race that is substantially more technically advanced than us would, somehow, have to be peaceful and beneficient. However, if they followed a developmental path anything at all like ours, they got that advanced by being anything but peaceable! Where did many of the historical discontinuities in our scientific and technical knowledge come from? Why, from the tremendous R&D investment the world's militaries command in times of war. I see no reason to assume that an alien race would necessarily be any different in that regard.

      Consider this: how many times in our own history has a culture been damaged or destroyed after encountering a more advanced one? Take our Native American friends, for example. The more capable society doesn't even have to be warlike either.
  • No danger - (Score:5, Funny)

    by no-body (127863) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:05PM (#21688174)
    by the time the signals sent out will arrive anywhere of significance, the disease "humans" will have been defeated by the planet's own immune system.
  • by stox (131684) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:06PM (#21688190) Homepage
    the other white meat!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Surt (22457)
      Funny but wrong, anyone who has ever eaten a human knows they are pretty much 100% dark meat (and not very tasty).
  • In a related story in Caveman Weekly, Torg, The Cheif Smartguy, for clan *Grunt* asks: OOGA BOOGA Should we go outside the cave or stay inside? OOGA OOGA!
  • by iago-vL (760581) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:06PM (#21688202)

    Even if aliens are out there listening, would they really care? I mean, we've all seen Independence Day and Signs and all the other movies where they do. But, when it comes right down to it, we probably aren't special enough to matter.

    Aliens powerful enough to matter would probably think of us like harmless bugs or small animals: sure, they take up some space, but they aren't worth the effort.

    On the other hand, if the aliens want a hyperspace bypass and Earth is in the way, we might all be screwed. :)

    • by davmoo (63521)
      I'm not sure it would really be a good thing if the aliens looked at us that way. After all, look what *we* do to harmless insects and small animals.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Or the Vogons [wikipedia.org] might care if our radio blasts are screwing up their satellite reception of the latest Pay Per View special of some poetry reading.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stmfreak (230369)
      Even if aliens are out there listening, would they really care?

      You're kidding, right?

      Assuming we progress to the point of cheap and common interstellar travel, if we suddenly heard of a primitive culture "over there" do you think it is more likely we would:

      a. shrug

      b. watch in horror as scores of independent missionaries from our own species descended on the helpless planet to bring them the word of <insert deity>.

      c. enslave them.

      d. set up trade negotiations for their resources.

      Looking to our own histo
  • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:07PM (#21688218)

    But some scientists think that Zaitsev is not only acting out of turn by independently speaking for everyone on the entire planet but believe there are possible dangers we may unleash by announcing ourselves to the unknown darkness.
    "Speaking for everyone"? He has a radio, and he's using it. This is speaking for everyone? When I toss a message in a bottle of the deck of a fraighter in the middle of the Pacific and it washes up on some tropical shore, I'm speaking for "everyone"?

    This idea is a stretch. Zaitsev is more or less free to "speak" to anyone he chooses.

  • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:07PM (#21688224) Journal
    Oh my god! I'll have to add it to my list, let's see...

    1. Fatal accident while driving
    2. Caught in fire at night while sleeping
    3. Heart attack
    4. Aliens attacking earth after sending out signals
    5. Cancer

    I had to bump "Terrorists attack Starbucks #528" off the list to make room
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by east coast (590680)
      I had to bump "Terrorists attack Starbucks #528" off the list to make room

      I thought Starbucks was the terrorists?

      Oh, sorry, they're thieves. Wrong criminal. My bad.
  • So there are billions spend in both manhours and cold hard cash to find extraterrestrial life, unsuccessfully. Now suddendly there's a guy who thinks "hey, why passively listen. Lets actively send out some signals straight to some specific starsystems!"
    And suddenly the scientific community is freaking; "OMG! Lets not do that! What if they exterminate us!"

    What do those "some scientists" know more then we do?

  • If the basis of your 'article' is speculation whose sole citation is science fiction, send it to /dev/null next time.
  • Limited disclosure (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Empiric (675968) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:10PM (#21688292)
    I think we're okay as long as it's just sending scientific data that doesn't reveal much about our cultural predispositions.

    "You couldn't possibly have had anything to do with Designing us" should work.
  • They will come and discover that we develop lots of technology and then disable half of it ourselves with something called DRM. We would be looked at as about the level of a dog chasing its tail...

    On the other hand, hopefully they would figure we are too stupid to get near them and we are in a ghetto system anyways :(

    "Sorry we are unable to verify the license on your hyperdrive's software...please try again later or follow this link to purchase a new license"

  • by xPsi (851544) * on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:13PM (#21688334)
    We've already violated the prime directive by sending porn and rock music into space with the Voyager [wikipedia.org] and Pioneer [wikipedia.org] messages respectively. Should an advanced alien civilization find and decode the Pioneer golden record, their biggest worry would be to be sued by the RIAA for illegally downloading Johnny B. Goode.
  • Definitive novels dealing with intergalactic contact are Stanislaw Lem's Fiasco [abebooks.com] and Eden. [abebooks.com] I cannot recommend these books highly enough as explorations of human psychology and what-could-possibly-go-wrong!
  • by demon (1039) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:14PM (#21688378)
    Muncha-Buncha-Cruncha-Humans!
  • by deft (253558) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:15PM (#21688416) Homepage
    I think we can all agree... that if the american indians had sent out regular "message in a bottle" type items across the ocean, describing their society, level of technology, etc, the Europeans would have been much friendlier when they arrived.

    Or the europeans would have showed up alot quicker and did exactly what they did. I imagine they would have brought more guns though on that first trip.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NotQuiteReal (608241)
      Statistically speaking, guns hardly killed anyone.

      You'd just better hope those aliens don't sneeze on you!

  • by TrixX (187353) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:17PM (#21688446) Homepage Journal

    From TOA: Brin included a more disturbing possibility: Nobody is on the air because something seeks and destroys everyone who broadcasts.

    I have another alternative theory to explain why we have not received any signal: Every planet inhabited by intelligent life has considered the same possibility of the previous paragraph, so they are avoiding any kind of transmission just in case, to avoid potential detection.

  • or rather, in carl sagan's "contact"?

    the first visual broadcast transmissions we've sent to the stars was bloody farking hitler himself, addressing the 1936 berlin games

    THAT's our announcement to the galaxy

    could we have possibly done worse as a species?

    we stood up, we cleared our throat, and the first utterance out of our technological mouths and we go and godwin the whole of human civilization

    fark us
  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Orange Crush (934731) * on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:25PM (#21688582)

    Space is very big and it takes lots and lots of energy and resources to build a craft--even just a weapons delivery system--to cross the vast distances between stars. It would have to actually be worth it to attack us. Our planet and Solar System contain no resources that aren't readily available and easier to obtain much closer to just about any other star system.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cephyn (461066)
      Except maybe for xenobiological slaves or test subjects. Or for the intergalactic zoo.
  • by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @05:37PM (#21688742)
    . . . they'd probably have to hold a lottery to determine who would get to push the button.
  • Oblig (Score:3, Funny)

    by PPH (736903) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @09:28PM (#21691998)
    In Soviet Russia, overlords welcome you!

    (+1 mod point for a double meme reply)

  • Very Astute (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hackus (159037) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @10:36PM (#21692674) Homepage
    If we are to believe that natural systems, such as the earth really are quite common, then "prey" and "predator" relationships must exist at all levels in the Universe.

    So it is logical to assume that there are technologically advanced civilizations that prey on other civilizations for resources or food.

    After all, we do it in our own backyard, so why can't other civilizations?

    There is nothing in the rule book that I know of that says just because a civilization has conquered space travel must not be aggressive.

    We continue to advance, yet we are still very warlike.

    -Hack

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