Monday, May 03, 2010
Stephen Hawking's recent comments on aliens have been getting quite a bit of attention, resulting in a flurry of interviews among experts including Neil deGrasse Tyson, who had been looking forward to a quiet evening at home.
I'm more inclined to agree with this opinion though, that alien races capable of space travel would almost necessarily have to be peaceful, as the more war and strife there is the less progress is made, the greater the chance for catastrophic weaponry to be used in early modern history, and so on. Even humanity is growing more and more peaceful (now at the lowest number of conflicts per capita ever) and educated as time goes on, and it's only with this massing of mutual peaceful potential that we've been able to explore space and keep it peaceful thus far. Had humanity been more violent by nature we may have wiped ourselves out during the Cold War.
The extreme distance argument is also worth keeping in mind too. Setting out across the ocean to find raw materials and precious metals is nothing, absolutely nothing compared to the time and effort it would take to travel light years from one system to another, and given how unexceptional our solar system is it's hard to imagine why anyone would come all the way out here just for resources.
But yeah, this is just speculation on speculation. We still have absolutely nothing to base these theories on besides what we know about ourselves, and a sample of one doesn't really tell us all that much. In the meantime our radio bubble is continuing to expand. Our closest neighbours (those within 14 light years) have been within it since about World War II.