Many times throughout history, especially in recent times as modern technological advances continue to push the boundaries of our capabilities as humans, we have asked, “if other civilizations exist out there in the cosmos, are they like us?”
Less frequently do we ponder whether this is something that should concern us; with humanity’s history of conquest, capture and colonialism, if alien beings were anything like us, what if they decided to act in this manner toward humans if they visited Earth?
Sadly, looking at things in terms of economics, we may have at least one assurance: if aliens are indeed like humans, there’s a good chance they’ve gone through recessions too, as well as the inevitable budget cuts that result from strenuous economic times such as those we face globally at present. Thus, it could be reasoned (albeit lightheartedly) that if aliens were really that much like us, they wouldn’t have been able to get their spacecraft off the ground in order to get here!
Take into consideration the current state of human space exploration as an example. Recently US President Barack Obama made a special VIP call to crew members aboard the International Space Station and the space shuttle Endeavour that various media outlets are now calling just plain awkward. The President promised that his commitment to NASA’s operations “is unwavering,” and that he is “committed… to continuing human space exploration in the future.” However, many astronauts feel less than certain, especially after the White House announced plans to squelch a new spaceship proposed by NASA only weeks ago. At least for now, since budget cuts and the recession are preventing space organizations from getting off the ground with future projects, it looks like we might be staying earthbound for a while!
Indeed, taking the argument in this direction is a bit tongue-in-cheek, although it could become an item of concern again once we take the approach of the speculative physicist. What if we consider that civilizations advanced enough to travel through space and reach us here might also have evolved more as a society, learning better ways to cope with scarcity? Still, there’s also the lingering possibility that they might have coped with lacking resources in more confrontational ways, like conquering other neighbors in their galactic regions and claiming their resources.
As suggested by Stephen Hawking in his book A Brief History of Time, using communications systems like the SETI program to signal brothers from outer space could be more likened to flagging down intergalactic bullies. Rest assured, if this were the case, they’d likely be interested in more than just stealing our lunch money! Let’s just hope, as stated earlier, that maybe aliens in neighboring galaxies are enduring periodic global recessions like us… and that these might keep a few of them “on the ground!”