If you thought the only place in the universe where you have to worry about predator capitalists is on Earth … think again. Two professors in Germany have written a new book detailing possible outcomes of a human encounter with an intelligent alien species and in it they warn that our SETI messages sent into space may be attracting the wrong kind of extraterrestrials – namely, the capitalistic kind who will see only the financial gains to be had by exploiting (or worse) the physically, technologically and intellectually weaker species they encounter on this wet blue planet. Does this scenario sound vaguely familiar? Even scarier, human capitalistic space explorers could find alien technology that gives them an advantage over other humans and use it against their fellow Earthlings. Cue the Twilight Zone music.
In an interview with Bild, Michael Schetsche, a Research Coordinator at the Freiburg Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health and an adjunct professor at the Institute for Sociology of the Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, discussed the book “The Alien Society — Introduction to Exosociology” which he co-authored with his scientific assistant, Andreas Anton. He sees the second scenario – humans finding alien technology, whether current or an artifact – as the more dangerous one, because it could happen on the Moon or one of the asteroids we’re already visiting.
"Maybe it's space debris that a strange probe has left on the moon or in the asteroid belt. But imagine, the artifact is still functional. Maybe it is a drive segment intended for free space. Of course we humans want to explore that, we bring it to earth, experiment with it, activate it with overflowing curiosity. And then it rips away a quarter of the planet's surface."
On the other hand, the discovery of this technology may not destroy humanity on its own but instead be used as a tool by greedy states or corporations. Even the quest to get it and bring it back could be deadly.
"(It could happen) that an artifact discovered somewhere in the asteroid belt provides the reason for warlike conflict on Earth."
Schetsche recommends immediately setting up an international agreement to “subordinate extraterrestrial finds to the supervision of the United Nations" and let the U.N. determine how found alien technology is handled and when, if at all, it should be brought back to Earth. (A U.N. agreement on alien technology to prevent one nation or corporation from becoming almighty? Good luck with that.)
It’s the first scenario – that of contact with an extraterrestrial species with human capitalistic tendencies – that conspiracy thoerists like Alex Jones picked up on and screamed “GERMAN SCIENTISTS URGE TO STOP SENDING SIGNALS INTO SPACE TO ‘CAPITALIST ALIENS’.” (His all-caps headline.) Schetsche compares it to the European ‘discovery’ of America and the conquest of Africa. As Native Americans and Africans found out, overwhelming power changes everything.
"All action of nation states is based on power. The entire structure is obsolete in the moment in which an overpowering extraterrestrial actor appears in the sky. It would be a struggle between Bambi and Godzilla, and we would be Bambi in the case."
Even if the aliens are benevolent, human response to no longer being superior to everything could cause chaos.
"Even if people do not kill each other, direct contact can destroy the social, economic, political and religious structures of countries.”
Based on these speculations, Schetsche obviously thinks it’s better to be the discoverer, not the discoveree, and recommends that we stop sending signals to superior aliens, especially ones that might have the same conquer and capitalize tendencies as their Earth counterparts once and most likely still have (sorry Trekkies).
Should we stop sending signals and start sending more humans and exploration robots into space? That’s already happening. Should we fear contact with superior life forms? Look in the mirror. Should we trust those in power to do the right thing should alien technology be found? Look in the mirror again.
Either way, it looks like most of us will probably end up like Bambi.