But, scientists from different parts of the world have conflicting views on whether or not we should be reaching out to extraterrestrial life. Over in the US, NASA scientists have created a broadcast message that is being sent out into the ether to inform any aliens that might be listening as they travel along their intergalactic highways fiddling with their radio stations that there is intelligent life (well, ‘intelligent’ might be a stretch) humans living here on earth. This broadcast has been called the “Beacon in the Galaxy” and it’s kind of a greeting message to any aliens who might stumble across it in their travels.
This message contains basic mathematical and physical concepts that scientists believe will establish a means of communication, as well as information on Earth, the life forms here and our precise location. This is all well and good, but perhaps these scientists could also play the Triple J Hottest 100 for the aliens so that they have some certified bangers to listen to as they make their way over to say hello.
However, Anders Sandberg, a senior research fellow at Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, is concerned about this. “It has such a high impact that you actually need to take it rather seriously,” he told The Age.
Sandberg’s colleague, Toby Ord, agrees that just letting random life forms know about our exact location could be a bit risky. “The main relevant question is the ratio of peaceful to hostile civilisations. We have very little evidence about whether this is high or low, and there is no scientific consensus,” he wrote in his book The Precipice in 2020. “Given the downside could be much bigger than the upside, this doesn’t sound to me like a good situation in which to take active steps toward contact.”
It’s quite clear that different scientists have very different perceptions of aliens, probably based on what movies they were exposed to as children. Presumably, the scientists at NASA have only ever seen ET, whereas the ones at Oxford have probably seen the Alien trilogy, Independence Day and perhaps even Predator, which would explain their more cautious approach to informing aliens of where we live so as to avoid them coming down here and destroying/eating us.
So, if we want to keep aliens away, perhaps a better idea would be to just change the content of the Beacon in the Galaxy message. If we just blast Crazy Frog at them, there’s no way they’ll want to investigate the place from which that signal is emanating.