Did you know the SETI Institute has a Director of Interstellar Message Composition? I did not know that. I guess it makes sense. If we’re going to be communicating with aliens, we’ll want to be careful about the words we choose. Get it right, and we’ve got extraterrestrial friends, here to uplift us to the galactic community. Get it wrong and we might be looking at radio silence, or worse…
So how should we present ourselves to prospective galactic neighbours?
Douglas Vakoch, the aforementioned Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute has done some thinking about this, and recently wrote it up in an article entitled, How we Present Ourselves to Aliens.
The trick, of course, is to make a good first impression. When the aliens finally receive our first communications, we want them to be wowed. But should we hide our more violent tendencies, or is the best strategy to just be honest. Sure, we fight a few wars here and there, but that’s just a phase we’re working through.
Vakoch thinks that honesty is the best policy. Sure we’re flawed, but what member of the Milky Way club didn’t ravage society with constant warfare and nearly destroy their environment before they reached perfection?
The aliens might be touched at our honestly, recalling their own struggle to get to a stable, peaceful society. Or they might just send in the berserkers to wipe the violent apes off the planet.
And how should we communicate? Could we just transmit CAT-scans of the human body, demonstrating both our physique and level of technology. Or should the mathematicians do our talking for us, communicating in terms of pi until we’ve a mutual mathematical appreciation happening. Do we send our beautiful music, hoping their like it? But what if they hate it?
Whatever we say, and however we say it, that first impression is everything.
So let me know. What would you say, and how would you say it? And if the aliens actually replied, what would we do then?
Original Source: SETI Institute