"There are so many Star Trek spin-offs that it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that Star Trek is an accurate vision of the future. Sadly Star Trek does not take into account the stupidity, selfishness, and horniness of the average human being.”
– Scott Adams, “The Dilbert Future” 1997
“Of the gods we believe, and of men we know that by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can…you know as well as we that right, as this world goes, is only in question between equals in power; for the strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must.”
-Thucydides (c.460 - 400 B.C.), The Melosian Dialogues, “History of the Peloponnesian Wars”
Dr. Hans Zarkov (Topol): “We are only interested in friendship. Why do you attack us?”
The Emperor Ming the Merciless (Max Von Sydow): “Why not? Pathetic earthlings. Hurling your bodies out into the void, without the slightest inkling of who or what is out here. If you had known anything about the true nature of the universe, anything at all, you would've hidden from it in terror.”
- Flash Gordon (1980)
I agree with Anonymous Conservative, as harmless as this quest to find extra-terrestrial civilizations sounds, it’s a bad idea. As a practical matter it could backfire disastrously should it succeed.
The scientists are clearly ‘r’ strategists seeking free resources. Both in the form of grant money to provide a steady job for themselves, as well as in their hopes to make contact some super-advanced and benevolent race who will bail us out and solve all our problems for us. One that will share their knowledge with us and show us how create everything we need and want, enable us to stay young forever and help us travel to other planets where we’ll meet hot-looking green alien women who’ll want to have sex with us. The history of our own world teaches us that when a very technologically advanced culture encounters a much less advanced culture, the less advanced culture comes to grief. Even when there is no ill intent on the part of the advanced culture. In “Democracy in America” Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about how even the French settlers in North America couldn’t compete with more advanced and ambitious English colonists, which caused most of the French to retreat back to Quebec rather than expand across the continent.
Thus it seems likely that a truly benevolent space-faring culture might have a policy akin to the Star Trek “prime directive” and would decline contact with a less advanced non-space traveling culture such as ours for fear that the cross-cultural contamination would destroy us.
But on the other hand, any space-faring civilization that WOULD deign to answer our call and contact us would be unlikely to acquiesce to our wishes. As AC postulates a sentient species who is able to cross the interstellar void is likely to be highly ‘K’ selected, having undergone a massive culling and eugenics program to improve the species on its home world. How could one launch years long deep-space exploration and colonization missions with crews of absent-minded, contrary and impulsive dolts who act out disruptively when they get the least bit bored? So it’s logical to suppose that such a space-faring race would probably have rid themselves of slackers and defectives long ago so they could focus their economy on space travel, rather than the transfer of wealth from makers to takers. What we are learning is that when resources become abundant in a society ‘r’ strategists reproduce in greater numbers resulting in moral degradation and a waste of resources leading to civilizational collapse. A civilization that survived to master interstellar travel would have had to have overcome and moved past this cyclical degradation and collapse.
“If there is intelligent life that can understand the message, it will likely have survived post-scarcity, and thus be heavily K-selected and heavily in-grouped. Only a species that decides to actively purge it’s r-strategists as a conscious application of a designed Darwinian selection pressure will avoid the degradation that is inherent to post-scarcity. If such a species sees any advantage for its people in conquering us, it will if it can.”
“And if it is more advanced than us, it will likely have already figured out r/K Selection Theory, and view our approach as an indicator of our species’ r-selected status. That means a species that has consciously designed to kill every r will get a message from an r-idiot on another planet looking to make friends.”
This species would quickly be able to discern from monitoring our media how gullible we are and how we are hoping for a deus ex machina from outer space to come and save us from ourselves. It could play out like Hernando Cortes’ expedition to Mexico, only worse.
Of course there is a third possibility. Given the vastness of the Universe even if there are other intelligent species somewhere out there, it is quite possible that they are so far away from us we might never meet them. That is actually the best option we can hope for since it would mean we will have any earth-like planets we manage to discover in this part of the galaxy all to ourselves. We won’t have to fight to find new worlds to build on anew.