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Intelligent life is more likely to be like the Borg than Vulcans, according to Stephen Hawking. Hawking says humans should try to avoid contact with intelligent aliens.  (Source: National Geographic)
Don't count on friendly aliens, like ET, says Hawking; they're likely looking to conquer, colonize, and exploit

Stephen Hawking, 68, has long suffered from a motor neurone disease that has extremely limited his powers of communication and movement, but that has never stopped him from  making important contributions to scientific theory.  Hawking just finished up a three-year project, a TV series called Stephen Hawking's Universe, which will air on Sunday May 9 at 9 p.m. on the Discovery Channel.

In the show he will offer up some controversial assessments on extraterrestrial life and what it might be like.  

Hawking is a firm believer that alien life does exist.  The universe contains hundreds of billions of galaxies, each with hundreds of millions of stars, many which have been shown to have planets in orbit.  Numbers virtually guarantee that life has evolved elsewhere, Hawking believes.  He states, "To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational.  The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like."

So what might these extraterrestrial species be like?  Hawking believes that most are likely "simple" species, similar to those that have evolved on Earth; ranging from microbes to land animals.

However, Hawking believes there is likely intelligent life out there.  And he's frightened by that possibility.

The aliens in Hawking's vision would be much like the malefic beasties in the blockbuster science-fiction flick 
Independence Day.  He describes, "We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach."

He says that humans should try to avoid alien contact as we colonize space.  He states that such contact would be "a little too risky".  What would result?  He states, "If aliens ever visit us, 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."

In addition to his theories about vicious aliens, Hawking suggests that based on examples of life surviving on Earth in extreme environments, life could be found in unbelievable places, such as in the center of stars or even floating in interplanetary space.

Hawking's colleagues concur on this point.  Lord Martin Rees, a British royal astrophysicist, told his students in lecture earlier this year that humans might not be able to recognize or understand forms of life they stumble across in space.  He states, "I suspect there could be life and intelligence out there in forms we can’t conceive.  Just as a chimpanzee can’t understand quantum theory, it could be there are aspects of reality that are beyond the capacity of our brains."

How close could primitive life be?  Professor Brian Cox, University of Manchester's "rockstar physicist" suggests we look in our own solar backyard.  He says that Mars, Europa (a moon of Jupiter), and Titan (a moon of Saturn) are likely places to find it.



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No Offense
By Reclaimer77 on 4/26/2010 1:44:10 PM , Rating: -1
I respect..well, I USED to respect Hawking. But no offense, he's going off the deep end with these opinions. I'm actually sad that someone I have respected, and read his works, is using his position as a trusted name to spew these completely unfounded and completely unoriginal "predictions". The entire premise of his statements are, to me, shocking that they came from such a genius. This is proof, yet again, that intelligence and wisdom do NOT go hand in hand.

Now before I get into it, let me say that I completely sympathize with the fact that he's stuck in a chair, and isolated from reality as everyone else experiences. But maybe that's the problem I have with these quotes of his, they are isolated from reality. Like most of his work, they have no practical application or can't even be verified. This reads less like science, and more like the musings of a bitter disabled simpleminded ordinary.

quote:
"We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.


Right.. Because mankind is just SO terrible?? It's so terrible that a man who is stricken with a neurone disease can become a wealthy well respected titan of his trade, when just a few years ago his ass would have probably just died. God, mankind is just disgusting isn't it Stephen? Love, compassion, music, art, self sacrifice etc etc.. nah, we posses NONE of these.

Man = bad . The premise of any Liberal mind. Sigh, I expected so much more from him.

quote:
I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach."


Baring the OBVIOUS ripoff of Hollywood this opinion is, it also is a contradiction. You can't have a super advanced space race, capable of massive Star Wars ship technology, who ALSO can't develop renewable resources. Think about it idiot! If you can travel across galaxies, aren't you past the point of needing ANYTHING on your planet that you can't replace, substitute, or engineer? Also, wouldn't you be capable of fixing any problem to the planets environment that you supposedly caused to get to your advanced state in the first place ? The answer to these questions is YES.

This is called "Critical thinking". And I'm just shocked at the lack of it in these statements. Coming from the man who made a living off of doing it! What happened to this guy ?

quote:
"If aliens ever visit us, 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."


Ok, ignoring the obvious liberal clique about whites vs. Indians and how terrible "we" are. Does this make ANY fukin sense?? For one thing, the Aliens would be FAR more advanced than we were when we met the Indians. Secondly, what could we possibly have that they would need from us?? North America had massive untapped land and resources etc etc. What do we have?? Some plutonium, water, and oil? WoW I'm sure a race that can travel galaxies would be really interested in that crap, right? NO!

So let's piece together the mans train of logic, shall we? Because, in his eyes, mankind is a terrible primitive exploitative race, who is using up all the resources on Earth.. a super advanced but ALSO primitively viscous alien race, who also used up their planet, would come to Earth. Umm, you can't have it both ways.

This is called "projecting". Based on his own concept of humanity, he has projected that his theoretical aliens would have the same "terrible" flaws as us, but simply be more advanced than us technologically. To say his premise is flawed is being extremely kind.

Now, everyone has a right to an opinion. But when you are a trusted name in your field, capable of reaching and influencing millions of people, you should be a bit more careful in what you say. When you say some off the cuff stuff like this, there are going to be idiots that say "but Stephen Hawking said (fill in the blank)!!!". And you should be aware of that.




RE: No Offense
By Amiga500 on 4/26/2010 3:11:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Man = bad . The premise of any Liberal mind.


What does a man's political view have to do with what is basic historical fact? Is that your prime argument for anyone you do not agree with?

Name one exploration of new areas of earth (by the supposedly civil and comparatively advanced Europeans) that did not go well for the indigenous rival? Australia? South America? North America? Africa*?

*In addition you could talk about the extinction of Neanderthal due to Homo Sapien spread from Africa to Europe thousands of years ago.

As for what we have that they might want.... extended living space on what is a pretty nice planet. Y'know. The exact same reason as that of the Europeans that moved to Australia/South America/North America/Africa....


RE: No Offense
By aegisofrime on 4/26/2010 3:30:28 PM , Rating: 2
I thought one of the assumptions of Liberalism, in international relations at least, is the inherent goodness of humans.

There's a theory that for a species to be able to truly become space-faring, they would have to be united enough to be able to muster the immense resources for serious space exploration and travel. Such unity would mean that either they have learnt to put aside their differences and coexist peacefully, or one of their nations have managed to conquer their world.

Anyway, let's not make any assumptions based on ourselves. We are but one planet out of trillions. I'm surprised that such close-minded words can come out of Stephen Hawking.


RE: No Offense
By Reclaimer77 on 4/26/10, Rating: -1
RE: No Offense
By Frankenshteen on 4/26/2010 6:05:57 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
UUGHH !!! Didn't I already make this distinction? Steven is projecting what would happen if an super advanced alien race came to earth, based on how we handled things THOUSANDS OR HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO when we were less advanced, more ignorant, and less tolerant. Do you understand the problem with this line of thinking??


I must have missed the headline about the global eradication of war for territory.

Hawking was expressing how things might go down based on the only species he is able to use as a frame of reference.

Would things unfold in this manner? Maybe. Maybe not. Noone knows. Not Hawking. Not even you, Reclaimer77.

I don't think Hawking ever claimed to be an expert on extra-terrestrial life.


RE: No Offense
By iano80 on 4/26/2010 6:19:06 PM , Rating: 5
I think the point Stephen is trying to make is that the likelihood of a benevolent race showing up is less than a malevolent one. Imagine the scenarios of 3 advanced (interstellar) races passing by:

Incredibly advanced race A: Neutral - nothing to see here bunch of monkeys, move along.

Incredibly advanced race B: Benevolent - the best thing we can do for these people is leave them alone to develop themselves.

Incredibly advanced race C: Malevolent - nice planet.. useful servile race (if properly motivated).. we'll take it!

Of course you also have to take into account that just because you're advanced doesn't mean you're above hopping across the border if you see something you like (or perceive as a possible future threat). We might have been bad years ago - unfortuntely hundreds/thousands of years later - we're still at it (unless two world wars and several 'minor' conflicts since don't count).

And let's not even start on a 'space religion' - covenant anyone?

It all comes down to who's more likely to make an appearance and why. Stephen seems (rightly or wrongly) to think that maybe we shouldn't stick our heads above the parapet until we can actually compete on something close to a level playing field. I kind-of agree.


RE: No Offense
By bh192012 on 4/26/2010 7:54:41 PM , Rating: 2
As a person with American Indian ancestory I don't get Hawking's point. What about my life is so bad? That I'm not going to die when I get to 33? That I have a nice freezer full of Pizza Pockets? What?


RE: No Offense
By Frankenshteen on 4/26/2010 4:22:08 PM , Rating: 3
Your points are diminished by your misdirected animosity.

Dr. Hawking was merely speculating. I'm not sure why his viewpoint is so absurd to you. His mankind, extra-terrestrial intelligent life analogy makes perfect sense. Read your history. This in not limited to colonial times.

Life in general is opportunistic and a species will do what it must to benefit the continuation of the species. Around the world, introduced species have wrecked havoc on indigenous ecosystems.

Your assumption that an advanced e.t. race capable of and actively engaged in interstellar travel is not in need of or pursuing anything in the universe is, at best, improbable.

quote:
Man = bad . The premise of any Liberal mind. Sigh, I expected so much more from him.


quote:
Ok, ignoring the obvious liberal clique about whites vs. Indians and how terrible "we" are.


Really? Come on. Don't make this into something that it's not.


RE: No Offense
By Reclaimer77 on 4/26/10, Rating: -1
RE: No Offense
By JediJeb on 4/26/2010 5:32:02 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It is the height of arrogance to claim that our own "history" should be applied when making an assumption about an alien species. This is all speculation . For all we know the "survival instinct" could be something completely foreign to another planet. Just because it works one way on Earth, does NOT mean it's a universal truth. Which is as possibility that shouldn't be hard to grasp for a man like Hawking.


Exactly! Mr. Hawking's is speculating what he believes, and you are speculating what you believe. Since there is no point of reference concerning alien life, then both speculations are equally valid. You can not postulate that one point of view is more valid than the other, so attacking one over the other is wrong. But when you so vehemently attack Mr. Hawking's opinion you are more or less proving his point. If you can become so aggressive over simple words, who is to say equal or greater aggression can not be displayed over something of a much greater importance as an entire planet.


RE: No Offense
By Iaiken on 4/26/2010 6:17:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You can not postulate that one point of view is more valid than the other, so attacking one over the other is wrong.


ZAT IS A BINGO!


RE: No Offense
By Reclaimer77 on 4/26/10, Rating: -1
RE: No Offense
By iano80 on 4/26/2010 6:40:47 PM , Rating: 2
If this was a scientific paper I'd agree, but this is one mans opinion. Even one of your quotes begins with 'I imagine they might'.

He's not saying the universe is full of nasties, he's expressing an opinion that he thinks the odds are they just happen to be the ones that will probably show up and theorising on why. After all, who wants to live on a poxy asteroid when you can live on that nice blue planet with plenty of beachfront property and lots of servants on hand (at least they better be if they don't want another probing).


RE: No Offense
By Reclaimer77 on 4/27/10, Rating: -1
RE: No Offense
By Frankenshteen on 4/26/2010 6:48:27 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
First off, anyone, ANYONE, bringing up the Indians in that way is left of center. I mean, you're joking right? Using the Native American card in a discussion about potential aliens?? Discussion over.


Joking? No. I didn't think of it in terms of race or political ideology until I read your ludicrous post. I read Hawking's quote in the spirit which I believe it was meant. That is, one example out of thousands throughout history where one people conquered another. The only one throwing race cards is you.

quote:
Pursuing what though?? What do we have that "they" could not possibly find on one of their planets, moons, or asteroid??


Your guess is as good as mine. Organic material perhaps. Life feeds on life. To completely dismiss the possibility of an aggressive e-t species with an interest in earth is silly.

quote:
Ya, that's what I thought. You have no idea.


Go change your tampon.

quote:
This is all speculation.


Exactly!


RE: No Offense
By JediJeb on 4/26/2010 4:45:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Baring the OBVIOUS ripoff of Hollywood this opinion is, it also is a contradiction. You can't have a super advanced space race, capable of massive Star Wars ship technology, who ALSO can't develop renewable resources. Think about it idiot! If you can travel across galaxies, aren't you past the point of needing ANYTHING on your planet that you can't replace, substitute, or engineer? Also, wouldn't you be capable of fixing any problem to the planets environment that you supposedly caused to get to your advanced state in the first place ? The answer to these questions is YES.


Ok I can think of one counter to this. Suppose the aliens have limited time to leave a dying solar system and the engineering they come up with to make it possible involves the cannibalizing of their entire planet, and to continue their travels this technology would require them to continue to cannibalize entire planets to maintain their existence. This would make the answers to those questions NO simply out of necessity.

It has happened here before, that for one civilization to survive it must decimate another. Faced with following a path of utter compassion for others leading to your certain annihilation or a path of destruction of others leading to your survival, most choose the latter out of desperation. Therefore I believe the Mr. Hawking's assumptions are somewhat grounded in logical estimations. How many times do people do the right thing for purely altruistic reasons?


RE: No Offense
By bh192012 on 4/26/2010 8:03:45 PM , Rating: 1
Why would they fly 4,000 light years, passing up countless other systems with more resources to head to the one that would actually resist? Try to understand the size of the universe first, and the amount of energy it would take just to get here.

It's like trying to make the argument that if you get stranded on a deserted island, you shouldn't try to communicate to the outside world, because they may come kill you and take your 1 palm tree. Aliens do not want our resources period. I could at least accept an argument that they hate other creatures (religiously?) not from their planet as being possible.


RE: No Offense
By AssBall on 4/27/2010 5:24:12 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Aliens do not want our resources period.


What? I sure want THEIR resources. But it's nice to have an expert here. Now please take the anal probe out of your ass.


RE: No Offense
By JediJeb on 4/28/2010 4:05:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why would they fly 4,000 light years, passing up countless other systems with more resources to head to the one that would actually resist? Try to understand the size of the universe first, and the amount of energy it would take just to get here.


Well my point wasn't that they were passing up other systems just to get to ours, it was that maybe they were using up each system to get to the next. It was postulated as only one of millions of possible ways to move your race through the universe, to show that there may be one possible reason why they would be dangerous when everyone else was trying to say there would only be peaceful reasons for alien races to travel through our own system.

I also have a good understanding of the size of the universe, I have studied astronomy as an amateur for many years.

Energy requirements are very high, why else would you need to use up all the available resources in an entire solar system to move on to the next. If you read my original post it plainly stated that the alien race found one way to escape their own solar system that required the use of all resources in that solar system to move to the next, thus requiring the use of that next system to move to another and so on and so forth. Of course with our limited understanding now we do not know how much energy it takes to actually move from one solar system to another. It may require more energy than exist in a single solar system or it may require only a 9v battery, nobody knows what the future of technology holds. Before the invention of the wheel it took a large group of people to move a one ton object. Now with wheels I can push my vehicle which weight over a ton by myself( given it is on flat ground).


RE: No Offense
By General Disturbance on 4/26/10, Rating: 0
RE: No Offense
By bodar on 4/26/2010 5:34:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
These monkeys are at once the ugliest and the most beautiful creatures on the planet


http://www.ernestcline.com/dmd/


RE: No Offense
By Phoque on 4/26/2010 5:36:11 PM , Rating: 1
Reclaimer77, sometimes, I think you are an asshole. But mea-culpa, I surely am sometimes too.


RE: No Offense
By magreen on 4/26/2010 7:12:58 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
...a super advanced but ALSO primitively viscous alien race...

a primitively viscous alien race... ewww, sounds sticky :)
kinda like that primordial soup they serve in high school bio...


RE: No Offense
By thurston on 4/26/2010 8:13:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Think about it idiot!


You even called Stephen Hawking an idiot, now I don't feel so bad about when you did it to me.


RE: No Offense
By zodiacfml on 4/26/2010 9:16:44 PM , Rating: 2
i couldn't agree more but to me all his words seem publicity to me for his new show as the ideas don't make sense as you said.
one thing i agree to what he said is, alien life could be as diverse. if there's alien life advanced enough to get us, they knew of our existence centuries or thousands of years ago.


RE: No Offense
By AssBall on 4/27/2010 5:15:17 AM , Rating: 2
No offense intended, reclaimer, but watch his new stuff this article is talking about before you start assuming things. You are taking hand picked quotes out of context. That is what your hated liberal minded enemies are famous for.

There is nothing illogical about anything he says... the dude is not like suddenly a dipsh!t now. He explains alot of what he means really well and gears it toward a non scientific audience.

You can't have a super advanced space race, capable of massive Star Wars ship technology, who ALSO can't develop renewable resources.

ORLY? Would you please explain to us how to manufacture hydrogen for your thirty billion strong species after your sun goes nova and your gas giants have already been completely harvested?

But seriously, the new stuff he has is about interesting and informative facts and speculations for an averagely educated audience. Don't read too much into it before you lose respect for the guy. You say it is "projecting". Well yes that was the whole bloody premise for the effing thing.

Why his politics concern you so much is also strange, considering most of what you said was opinionated assumptions, and, hell, he's British anyway.

Check out the new show, if nothing else it will make your kids feel like you did when you first saw him on NOVA, or read Brief History of Time.

Oh, there's no bombs or earthquakes or boobs happening today? Try not to avoid being baited by sensationalized media coverage.


RE: No Offense
By tmouse on 4/27/2010 9:10:00 AM , Rating: 2
Why I do not agree entirely with all of reclaimers points I do feel it's too bad Hawkins allowed his personal views to be whored for publicity for his show (he is smart enough to figure out speculating on evil aliens would get allot of news coverage). It happens all too often with celebrities, their public "presence" gives their opinions far more weight than they ever should have. I'm a bit surprised he has this view and cannot see how he could even possibly determine any probability on the motivations of unknown life forms. Extrapolating from our point of reference is pure folly. Yes there is life elsewhere, most will probably be simple forms. Very little will be sentient by our standards. Far less will probably be similar to us and less than that will probably follow a pattern of development that one can extrapolate our experiences onto them to determine their motivations and behaviors (and even within this small population there is probably a complete spread of civilization from tribal to far more advanced). So I think the probability that most of the life we encounter will not be harmful (or really helpful) is far greater.
Why does everyone think if their more advanced than us they will be incapable of recognizing us as intelligent life? We have begun to appreciate the rights of our own primitive cultures in a relatively short period of time and we even protect "lower" life forms far more than ANY other life form on earth (note I'm not saying we do not destroy many more but there is not a single biological example of any other species that actively preserves another species it doesn't get a direct benefit from ,while we have).
The enslavement statements are totally ridiculous, even using our own history. Slavery WAS a necessary evil to advance societies before industrialization, after all there would be little time to develop arts, philosophy and science to the levels the "advanced" cultures of their time did if they had to grow their own food. If we came across an extraterrestrial "primitive" species that had simple societies or anything we could recognize as technology I really do not feel our first thoughts would be lets enslave them and rape their resources (and I should note I am far from a believer in the inherit goodness of man). To me it would be highly improbable for a space faring race to still be using slaves.
As for the colony ship reaching us and finding it too costly to go back, I highly doubt any intelligent race would send massive colony ships out blindly to be surprised by the presence of advance life on the destiny world. First contact will probably be more remote than an invading army, after that the results will run the full gambit from help them, ignore them to destroy them, there is absolutely nothing to base the outcome on. The bottom line is take his view with as large a grain of salt as mine, neither of us has ANY information to draw ANY conclusions, although I wish fellow scientists would stick to speculating only in our own fields where we have at least some knowledge to base our ramblings on.


RE: No Offense
By Anoxanmore on 4/27/2010 10:44:25 AM , Rating: 2
quote:

Slavery WAS a necessary evil to advance societies before industrialization, after all there would be little time to develop arts, philosophy and science to the levels the "advanced" cultures of their time did if they had to grow their own food

No, as soon as you said that, you are offically an idiot.


RE: No Offense
By AssBall on 4/27/2010 3:02:18 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know.... it has some truth to it.

Pyramids
Feudalism
Industrialisation

Historically he makes a good point. And I wasn't aware that the "official office of idiot christening" was here to disinlighten us. I hope for your sake it pays well though.


RE: No Offense
By tmouse on 4/28/2010 8:35:11 AM , Rating: 2
I do not know if I should even dignify your response with an answer. It's easy for us to sit in our comfortable age and pass judgment while we feel morally superior since we simply do not have to do things other did. In THEORY a civilization could advance by a mutual agreement that some will do the grunt work to provide the basic necessities while others devote themselves to "higher activities" that advance a society above meager substantive existence. In practice it has never happened. Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Europeans and Americans ALL used slaves (sorry if I left out anyone but it's not exactly a great honor to be on the slavers list). I feel confident we would not be where we are today if it were not for the inspiration of the inventors living off the sweat and blood of an underclass. Hopefully we continue to reduce this process but in many ways we still profit either directly or indirectly from developing nations with cheap labor that employ less than nice methods on their people or use poorer neighbors. The hope is we May someday be in some form of equal and symbiotic relationship with each other, but even though its better today , let's hope others we may meet have worked out the solution (sorry if that's a little Disneyesque)


"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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