Optimistic calculations predict that we are one of millions of communicative, intelligent life-forms in the Milky Way; so it seems suspicious that we haven’t yet been contacted be aliens. Assuming that intelligent aliens do exist, what possible reason could they have for avoiding us?
Any alien civilisation advanced enough to contact us would have to weigh up the benefits and risks of initiating contact. At first thought it may seem that an intelligent alien civilisation would want to form a long-term alliance with us; however we can quickly realise that we have nothing of value to offer them.
- If an alien civilisation is advanced enough to spot us and initiate contact, then they can ascertain that our scientific knowledge and technologies are inferior to theirs. So we have no knowledge to offer.
- If they wanted slaves, they could use robots or genetically engineer a slave-species from scratch. They wouldn’t waste resources capturing us and transporting us to their home planet / planetary system. We have no labour force to offer.
- If they needed resources, they would harvest nearby uninhabited objects. We have no useful resources to offer.
- If they were desperate enough to need help in an interplanetary/interstellar war, we have no way of getting soldiers / resources to them quickly. So we have no military prowess to offer. (It is worth noting that while they wouldn’t directly contact us for help; they might send out a galactic distress call that we could intercept)
An advanced civilisation attempting to form an alliance with humans is akin to humans attempting to befriend a colony of ants: it’s futile and it ain’t gonna happen.
Even if we one day become technologically advanced enough to offer value to alien civilisations, they may refrain from initiating contact through fear. We would be probably be classified as an ‘extremely immoral, potentially malicious species‘, and would be treated with severe caution. Here are some reasons why:
- Omnivorism: much of the planet consumes sentient beings for the sole purpose of satisfying their taste buds, even when it is cheaper and healthier to go vegan. It shows how we value our own species above all others.
- Borders: our planet is separated by hundreds of borders. These borders limit the movement of humans and uphold inequality. They show that even within our own species we value certain groups above others.
- Violence: we are an intrinsically violent species. We are constantly fighting wars, committing global acts of terrorism or killing innocent people with drone strikes.
- Possession of nuclear weapons: 8 countries possess nuclear weapons. A nuclear war could render the Earth temporarily uninhabitable, and we almost had one back in 1983, yet we continue to possess these weapons of mass destruction.
If an alien species discovers us, they would closely monitor our behaviour and upon discovering how immoral and violent we are, they would likely devise a plan to protect themselves from us. Aliens may be treating us the way you would treat a pack of lions: with fear and caution.
We should consider this approach for our own endeavours: humanity seems to have an unhealthy obsession with contacting aliens. Maybe we should dial back our efforts lest our insatiable curiosity result in our demise.
Until we buck up our ideas, intelligent aliens aren’t going to want to mingle with us. The only evidence of intelligent aliens that we can hope for will be in the form of a distress call, a ‘message in a bottle’, or unintended radio transmissions.