WE ARE THE ALIENS WE HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR
(quick…tell Fox Mulder!)
This post is intended to be a quirky and fun self-examination of our species. Since we do not openly acknowledge contacts by another ‘sentient off-world species’, we can only guess at what these aliens would be able to do..…through this comparison, do we find ourselves looking in the mirror? Just remember to not take this too seriously; have fun with it.
- Aliens and humans have interstellar probes and space travel
For those of you who believe [:-)], we have been to the Moon several times. We are planning to go in the near future, especially as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic develop the space tourism industry.
The Voyager 1 probe that was launched in 1977 left the Solar System in 2012 and entered interstellar space. The Cassini probe of Saturn was terminated in 2017 by letting it fall into Saturn. Venera 7 which was launched in 1970 landed on Venus. Vikings 1 and 2 (1976) landed on Mars. So we have a history of sending our probes to other planets and making terrestrial contact with the surface of a planet.
To stretch the limits here, is the human project of sending probes any different than aliens crashing ships or sending probes, such as with the fabled Area 51? What if we unknowingly send objects to a planet that other lifeforms consider to be their own planet? What if we have changed their societies by showing up ‘unannounced’? What if we have unknowingly violated intergalactic treaties? The aliens, like us, probably struggle with these issues, for we are no longer making fire on just our own planet now.
2. Aliens have robots
Aliens probably have robots, and we have robots. Robots are great for doing repetitive tasks or tasks that could be hazardous, such as welding a car chassis, working with nuclear or chemical wastes, or the really scary prospect of interfacing with humans. I am sure that there is an alien society that has its share of get-it-bots that run around a warehouse just like the ones that Amazon is implementing in its warehouses. I am confident that an alien species, one that could fly all the way here, could have learned to have their robots work with them and not replace them. That is our goal as well.
3. Aliens use artificial intelligence
We are catching up, but we have a long way to go. Just imagine the number of languages, glyphs, and scripts that an alien species would have to speak as it traverses the galaxy. There are almost 7,000 languages spoken on earth, and even if 75% of them become obsolete by 2050, that still leaves 1,750. Artificial Intelligence (AI) would be readily deployed as a universal translator. It has to be adaptable and fast, which AI typically is. Languages that are based on mytho-historic story lines or metaphorical languages would probably be hardest to translate; “With Sails Unfurled” if the Trekkies get the reference. Not all meaning can be synthesized down to math or binary languages because the words convey sounds and sounds convey context. Aliens probably visit worlds many times over a span of history, and one could imagine them saying “the last time we were here we were talking to the dolphins and the whales”. Flying through the galaxy, every planet could have 1,000 languages, so that is a very large database. One needs not only language, but contextual metadata as well. For this reason alone, AI would be a have-to-have in the alien world. I have heard that some people can speak seven languages; I am good for bits and pieces of four….a thousand, no way!
Now throw in the logistics of space travel and the distances and travel routes between stars and the data can be overwhelming. It would be interesting to talk to the aliens to see how they addressed the issue of runaway AI, such as the potential Facebook scenario where the negotiation bots developed their own ‘language’. There is so much to learn.
4. Aliens probably use 3D printing
Why wouldn’t they? We are working on printing houses, organs, and all manner of manufacturing goods because it is efficient. Wait till you get to your ‘printed’ McChick Nuggets! Printed with your favorite flavor, no sauce needed. Ahh kobe steak, right off the spindle: a little soy sauce and you’re good. Just let it sizzle on the hibachi grill! Seriously though, 3D printing, when we get it worked out, is very efficient in terms of inputs. It is not a leap to think that an advanced civilization would have learned to manufacture the goods they need, in space while they travel, using a printer and a program. If we would do it, wouldn’t they? Can you clothe and house your populations using 3D printing? Isn’t that easier?
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
5. Aliens probably manage themselves with a unified government
We have been on the way to this concept since 1948 in leaps of fits and starts. Everything is an evolution. There is probably not one alien unified government type as it depends on the aliens and their preferences. There might be a corporation, or a hive, militaristic, socialistic, merchant focused, or they might be tribal. Aliens and ourselves probably share the same scenario; you are never done evolving. You think you are complete and then either an asteroid hits, you run into a more powerful alien race, or you move up a dimension and you have to start over. I doubt that the egalitarian Prime Directive of non-interference is wide spread, you have to be traveling through space for a reason, and their has to be a ‘payoff’. This payoff is probably in the modality of an exchange of energy at some level. In all of the science fiction I never hear of aliens having elections…why is that? One can only hope that power is wielded justly throughout the universe. If not, we have written a Declaration of Independence before, we can write another one.
6. Aliens and humans can terraform a planet
We have been doing this for years. The lost of forests and habitat, one city’s developer application and planning commission at a time, has created a large loss of habitat. (Slowly the water heats, and the frog stays still). We dam rivers and can change their course through the landscape. We alter the acidification of the oceans and the composition of atmospheric gasses. We mine with huge open pits, and we build cities everywhere. As humans we seem to have the same mantra as the science-fiction Borg do: ‘You will be assimilated. We will add your technological and biological distinctiveness to our own”. We burn forests to make room for farms. We extract large amounts of energy from the planet, and we use nuclear and chemical weapons that cause the same level of destruction as a tsunami. We travel and allow invasive species to migrate across the planet.
But, we also recognize our weaknesses about ourselves and we set aside areas of land for protection. We work to protect the natural world, and we know the value of it. We are evolving, and we are challenging out values. What does one tree mean? What does the forest mean? We are only a few thousand years out of the cave. We we are creating is evolving faster than we are, if that makes sense.
I can imagine that an alien civilization would do the same thing to a planet, especially in the pursuit of mineral resources for trade and energy. Very advanced civilizations might even consume the energy of an entire star for their needs. Probably the main issue in our galaxy, or even the universe, is the balance of consumption by the powerful against the right of a person/planet/star to exist and thrive. It is fun to think that aliens have come to our planet to watch our TV shows and movies just to get ideas on how to solve their problems! It may not be such a far-fetched idea that an alien race who has been highly evolved for eons has to use our entertainment to solve some crisis that they are experiencing, to take a step back to go forward scenario.
7. Aliens and humans manipulate DNA and genetics to make their life better
Given the rapid pace with which we have been able to identify what DNA is and how to manipulate it since Francis Crick and James Watson discovered it in 1953 has been amazing to watch. We have been using genetics for much longer than that though to make our world better, whether it is creating hybrids from peas or horses. Now the word chimera is coming back into fashion to describe genetic manipulations to make new creatures. Now we, via the Salk Institute, are trying to create human-animal combinations.
Wait, I have seen that before…where have I seen that…..Oh Yeah
Sekhmet – Ancient Egypt
We could probably all agree that we don’t really know our human past, or how long we have been on the planet. There are a multitude of theories, but we don’t KNOW. We are probably older than the Giza Pyramids and younger than the dinosaurs. Left to its own devices, life in a system will evolve genetically in light of changing environmental conditions, but we as humans didn’t seem to gradually change from a previous species. Everything we learn just creates ten more questions across the board.
It isn’t a far reach though to think that a civilization that is much more advanced than our own would do what we do by manipulating DNA. They would probably be much better at it. We manipulate genes and DNA, therefore they would probably be masters at the process. They could even make beings to help them, or wait on them, in places that are inhospitable to circuits and batteries/robotics.
8. Aliens and humans create electromagnetic frequency hotspots
There are perhaps 2300 satellites in orbit around the Earth, and more are added all the time. They communicate with the Earth via electromagnetic waves. Between the communications between satellites, from Earth locations to other Earth locations, and communications from Earth to space locations, the Earth is awash in a bright bath of electromagnetic flux. Even if Aliens use light or some sub-space frequency to communicate, they would still use a frequency. This use of a frequency would be most likely electromagnetic. We both would bathe our surroundings in EMF!
9. Aliens and humans have integrated communications
Aliens would have to have an entire network of integrated communications, such as our internet. There’s would probably be much more prevalent and would be saturated by the “Internet of Things”. They probably annotate their journeys in video logs, just like do.
10. Aliens and humans have advanced medical capabilities
Aliens would have to have advanced capabilities as well as the knowledge of multiple types of biologies, both natural and synthetic. Accidents happen to everyone at some point, and when you are in space you might not be near the closest starbase. Medicine and treatments would probably be infused with artificial intelligence, and connected to the ‘internet’. We humans are doing this now, so we are not dissimilar, perhaps only in the scale of technological capabilities.
11. Aliens and humans can scan planets electromagnetically
From a remote orbit, aliens would be able to scan a planet to determine a wealth of information about it. We do that as well. The European Space Agency has a the Proba-V satellite which scans vegetation, the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) scans the highest clouds, and Landsat, SPOT, and Eros are satellites that are used for remote sensing. We look at the visible, infrared, and ultra-violet spectrums, plus other electromagnetic frequency bands, to gather more data then we could see with our eyes. We have been scanning our planet since the 1970s, if not before. We also scan other planets and their moons.
12. Aliens and humans use advanced energy production methods
Aliens and advanced races would be able to use advanced production methods for their energy needs. This could include fission, fusion, solar, hydro, matter-antimatter, x-ray conversion, and ion propulsion. As far as I know we have created at least prototypes all of these except for matter-antimatter and x-ray conversion. Large scale x-rays occur around stars with black holes such as Cygnus X-1.
Energy development is one of the primary factors of the Kardashev scale which was developed by Nikolai Kardashev in approximately 1964. There are three general categories within this system:
Type 1 – can use all the of the energy that is delivered to the planet
Type 2 – can use all of the energy that is radiated by its own star
Type 3 – this civilization can use all of the energy that is on the scale of a galaxy
Note that this scale is humano-centric, it is defined in terms of our planet, star, and galaxy. Different civilizations will have different issues and sizes which will vary the amount of energy to them. There is probably a universal standard that an alien race developed long ago. Perhaps Earth is now a Type 0.4.
13. Aliens use Weapons of Mass Destruction
Most advanced races, alien or otherwise, would most likely have to have the capability to enlist advanced weaponry to protect themselves against real or perceived threats. We have that capability now. Could we say that approximately 15,000 nuclear devices is sufficient to meet this definition of mass destruction? If an average size of a device is 10 megatons, then there could be over 150,000 megatons. We could probably end most life on Earth with that much power. The more insidious power comes from biologic or chemical weapons. Some could argue that our current manufacturing processes are a self-inflicted chemical attack, whether it is from the side- effect of production, such as with PCBs, or the mountains of plastics that circle in the ocean. Enough said I reckon.
14. Aliens and humans live in mega-cities
A mega-city is currently defined as 10 million people, living together in an urban area. Today, there are approximately 22 mega-cities on the planet. From a logistics and control standpoint, it makes sense to place people into dense concentrations so that they can receive services, work and play together, and minimize the impact on the local natural area from a foot-print standpoint. How many forests have fallen to suburbia? Are distributed living systems such as the sprawl of suburbia in the best interest of preserving the planet? Wouldn’t aliens use the mega-city concept since it is more energy efficient when dealing with large numbers of beings?
15. Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH) as aliens
Roughly 250,000 to 400,000 years ago, we, as the AMH, popped up. Unlike Darwin’s theory of steady and gradual evolution (phyletic gradualism), it seems that we followed the theory of punctuated equilibrium as theorized by Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould. As an AMH, we have differing characteristics from previous hominids that include greater speech capabilities, an appreciation for abstract thinking, and the creation of art. The differences also include skeletal differences, such as thinner bones and longer fore-arms. In fact, one could appreciate that we appear that we could have been ‘manufactured’ based on the number of references of the Golden Ratio or Phi that exist in the body. This ratio 1.618… and is found throughout the body of the AMH. Le Corbusier developed the following interesting image based on his study of Phi and the human body.
Although head shape (more of a forehead and the size of the area for the brain) changed dramatically, to a greater extent it matters more the neural density in the brain area. The neural density allows for greater processing, and given that the AMH had increased conceptual and speech capabilities, this suggests that we had an increase in neural density. With smaller bone structures, we developed technology to help us compete effectively in the world: blades and buildings. As far as we know… no other species developed our level of tool making and housing capabilities.
The fun question surrounds the punctuation in the punctuated equilibrium. How does the species come into being? We aren’t like that which came before…how did we get here 😉
16. Aliens and humans are harvesting species
This tool making capability enabled the AMH to succeed well as a harvester species, and by using technologies such as agriculture, we could harvest more at once. Today we harvest at a rate that, depending on who you talk to, almost meets or exceeds what the natural world can replenish. That is my definition of a harvester species, using what you need today, and migrating if you need to when and if the local systems crash (referencing locusts). Now we as AMH are beginning to migrate to the moons and planets, with one of several goals: to harvest energy and mineral resources. There is significant discussion of mining asteroids as well. A harvester species doesn’t ask who owns this area, they just take what they need. Isn’t harvesting what we are great at? Isn’t this the subject of many of our scary alien movies…where people are sucked up into space ships and their organs removed? They are harvested. Aren’t these aliens just being a harvester species, getting what they need? Is this concept really different from who we are? We only have a problem when we are the harvestee instead of the harvester.
To be fair, not all aliens might be harvesters.
17. Aliens and humans use holographic experiences and global memes
Humans use the entertainment industry to provide experiences and global memes (May the Force Be With You). There are many movies that have been transformative to society in general. Our education system is another provider of global memes. Each movie, tv show, book, or classroom can transform a society, and this is why during many times in history books were burned, from the Library at Alexandria to WWII, and times thereafter. These transformations create new realities within which one can exist. An early example would be the creation of the mytho-historic writings of the Greek or Norse Gods and Goddesses, and how those stories transformed their societies.
Aliens read Shakespeare…really! They probably had their own writers who write about similar things. “To Thine Own Self Be True” Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3….this is probably universal.
18. Aliens and humans work to understand our place in the Cosmos
Carl Sagan 1934 – 1996
We’re made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself. In 1980 the book Cosmos was written which seemed to bring the ‘out there’ down to ‘around here’. The work of the pioneer Carl Sagan, and others like him, has had profound impacts on our society and our view of ourselves. Now other great people are climbing the great ladder that he started, and adding their own rungs, advancing our knowledge.
For me it started with Carl Sagan and his saying “billions and billions of stars….” Thank you Carl Sagan. Where ever you are, may you journey well.
Where do we fit? Why are we here? Where did we come from? Are our distant ancestors ‘out there’? Are there ‘others’?
Now we can ask: Are We They? Are They Us, just separated by time?
Orson Well’s War of the Worlds radio broadcast in 1938 created a nationwide panic over an alien invasion. We as AMH modern humans have already invaded; we are already here. We have taken over. The only question is how much are we like our cousins who might be ‘out there’?