War or cooperation: How will humanity respond to the first contact with aliens

In space fiction, meeting with extraterrestrial civilizations is a very popular plot. Often in such stories, an advanced alien race arrives on Earth and offers peace and prosperity, but behind this act of altruism, they hide their main secret from us. Often this secret is an evil intent to destroy humanity. Various evil intentions may be hidden under the mask of help, but the result is always the same. Therefore, science fiction has taught us in advance that the first contact with highly developed aliens can end very badly for us. But really, how bad can it be? This question is addressed in a new study using game theory and the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes.

The first contact will be more like the movie “Arrival” than “Independence Day”. Authorship: Paramount Pictures

Attempts to use our own history as an argument against contact with aliens often point to the colonization of America by European colonists. This led to the genocide and destruction of Native American civilizations, and therefore many people believe that the arrival of aliens will necessarily lead to a bad result. However, there is one significant difference. European colonists arrived with criminal intentions of conquest and exploitation, whereas alien civilizations may arrive with a desire to find a common language and help humanity. In the movies, such first contact often occurs after the arrival of a massive spaceсraft. But most likely, the first contact will occur through the radio. So, we need to take a more flexible approach to this issue.

Hobbes Trap and Schelling’s Dilemma

One such approach is the Hobbes trap, also known as Schelling’s dilemma. Let’s imagine that you get lost in the woods and meet a stranger. The best result for both of you is to work together to get out of the forest. But you don’t know if you can trust this stranger. He may also decide to kill you to get a hold of your belongings. Therefore, your first natural reaction can be quite instinctive — an attack for your defense.

The radio telescope will be the first tool for communicating with an extraterrestrial civilization. Photo: Unsplash

Although cooperation would be the best option, it is safest to prevent a possible threat. The general conclusion is that human contact with alien civilizations is more likely to lead to their destruction than to an alliance. This is one of the possible explanations for the Fermi paradox and why, so far, we have not found any aliens.

Cooperation is better than war

But in this new article, the author tries to prove that Hobbes’ logical move is not always correct. The trap arises from the fact that both sides adopt an approach aimed at avoiding risk. They think it’s better to be safe than to take risks. However, the author suggests an alternative – a reward-based approach, which, in his opinion, may be more effective. 

The first contact will not happen because of the arrival of alien spaceсraft. Image: Science Alert

The author’s argument is that contact with an alien civilization can provide us with a significant amount of information about them. We will know that they also evolved in this physical universe, facing the same evolutionary challenges. We will know that they have reached a level of technological development that requires interaction and cooperation. And if they are able to travel in interstellar space, then they have probably successfully overcome social and environmental challenges.

Finding a common understanding

And although we are not aware of their intentions, we also understand that cooperation and information exchange can lead to common benefits for both sides. Therefore, the most appropriate strategy may be to apply a positive approach. This is probably also the best strategy for the aliens, who seem to understand this perfectly.

Based on this, the author creates a set of axioms of first contact, which define the basic rules of interaction with alien civilizations. In a general context, these axioms indicate the possibility of communication, the need for caution and the hope that the first contact is likely not to be a threat to existence.

When people cooperate and trust each other, our world becomes safer and better. This is also possible in the relationship between humans and aliens. And only time will tell whether we will be able to find a common understanding and reach a mutual comprehension with these mysterious creatures from outer space.

Earlier we reported about how there were four evil civilizations in the Milky Way.

According to Universe Today

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