They Won’t Come in Peace

The renowned physicist Stephen Hawking once famously warned that humanity’s efforts to radio communicate with extraterrestrials could be endangering us. If the aliens that detect our signals are technologically capable of coming here — proof that they are far more advanced than we — “I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans,” Hawking said.

But how can we know the first thing about ET’s behavior, be it malevolent or otherwise? Shostak said we need look no farther than Earth. Aggression evolved as a trait among Earthlings because it helps us obtain and protect resources. Though aliens would have arisen and evolved under totally different conditions, pressure to secure finite resources would probably have molded their behavior, too. “I suspect resources would be finite anywhere in the universe,” Shostak told Life’s Little Mysteries.

Ragnar Larsen