The year is 2121, it has been only six months since we made contact with alien race A, we don't know very much about them except these things:

  1. They have many military spaceships made of technology unknown to mankind.

  2. They always wear space armor, so we don't know how they look like, except they are humanoid.

  3. They came from another galaxy.

And now they are asking for our help to wage war against alien race B in the same galaxy, they want:

  1. Our resources : water, food, minerals, natural gas, petroleum and much more.

  2. Our men and women to reinforce their fleet: they will be given a special training, weapons and armors.

And of course they will reward us with:

  1. Access to their cutting edge alien technology.

  2. Alien engineers to build high-tech based services on earth: advanced hospitals, factories, ...etc.

Bear in mind that we don't know the true intentions of alien race A (whether they are good or bad) and we also know absolutely nothing about alien race B, why should we help them or why should we refuse ?

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    $\begingroup$ So... if we refuse gently, will we be the next random target for them? Did they speak about this? $\endgroup$ – Confused Merlin Feb 19 '16 at 9:06
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    $\begingroup$ What a wonderful opportunity! We can send all our violent criminals away to die in another galaxy, as well as selling our unhealthy processed foods, lead-laced drinking water and worthless climate-destroying oil. Planet Earth is open for business! $\endgroup$ – Cyrus Feb 19 '16 at 13:19
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    $\begingroup$ Hmmm... sort of like a certain country (USA) helping two other countries wage war on each other (Iran, Iraq, Reagan era). We'd do it as much because humans are ahles as for the goodies. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Feb 19 '16 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ Obviously a scam. They are intergalactic Nigerian princes. Or... They are doing it for entertainment. They are setting up the equivalent of a cock fighting ring and We are actually alien race B. $\endgroup$ – Mr.Mindor Feb 19 '16 at 16:07
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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't ally with anyone who is so popular at home that he has to come to an another galaxy to find friends. $\endgroup$ – Karl Aug 28 '16 at 23:22

17 Answers 17


If I was in charge of formulating Earth's response, I'd be highly suspicious why an alien species seemingly more advanced than us would need our resources and personnel. For resources, they ought to be able to get most inorganic stuff from asteroids and gas giants. Organic stuff one would expect them to be able to synthesize. As for staff, what kind of military work would not be more reliably automated than handed off to a comparably primitive client species like us, involving not just time-intensive training, but particularly the risk that eventually those primitives might use the weapons against their masters.

Thus, I would suspect that they have serious issues with logistics and their supply chain - considering they came from another galaxy, this might not be surprising, depending on what abilities of travel and transport they have.

So I would ask them for demonstrations of their military might, arguing that understandably we would not want to become entangled in a war on the losing side. As we are talking space war, supposably the demonstration would involve at least one of their ships. I would try to aim for a very specific demonstration. Perhaps have them destroy Pluto in the presence of human observers (obviously scientists and military people amongst them).

The purpose of this exercise would be to first check whether they are really quite as powerful as it seems, but also to give us a chance to get more data about their technology before committing to a decision. Even just from watching their ship approach, pick up our team of observers, getting them to Pluto, we could infer quite a bit about their transport system, their source of energy, material science etc. From watching them destroy Pluto something about their military technology.

Only after would I decide, and even then I'd try to stall. I'd also make it a condition right from the start for them to have a permanent delegation on Earth, in a location of our choosing. Again, this would give us opportunity to watch them and learn - even if they have some sort of fantastic energy shield completely opaque to our instruments around their embassy, the mere existence of this shield would teach us something. Besides, I would insist on personal meetings for any sort of negotiation, quoting cultural bias as a reason. That way, they'd be forced to either leave their compound or let humans enter regularly - in either case, at least for small windows of time that fantastic shield/screen would open a hole, allowing us to once more try to gain more data.

In all of this, I would constantly act like a car salesman who knows their customer really needs a car really urgent and also knows that the customer knows that he knows. Because in essence, we are in just such a situation - they obviously need us and they obviously cannot get what they want by force (if they could, they'd just do it, considering they are obviously not against violence on principle).

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    $\begingroup$ Long and detailed first post. Let me be the first to welcome you to the site. $\endgroup$ – J_F_B_M Feb 19 '16 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ I would ask them for demonstrations of their military might : hope they don't misunderstand us and demonstrate their might on poor planet Earth instead of Pluto, and that will teach us not to question them in the future. $\endgroup$ – Javert Feb 19 '16 at 14:08
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    $\begingroup$ Indeed - Hiroshima was a fantastic demonstration of the military might of the US, after all... $\endgroup$ – neminem Feb 19 '16 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ I'd be highly suspicious why an alien species seemingly more advanced than us would need our resources and personnel. The classic trope for stories like this is "please, people of Earth, the Beneveloids need your help. We are a technologically advanced, enlightened race under siege by the warlike Malevolons, who destroy everything in their path. We have the technology to produce weapons, but we abandoned violence long ago and we lack the skill to use them effectively. Please lend us your expertise and save us from Malevolon annihilation... and did we mention Sol is next in their path?" $\endgroup$ – Mason Wheeler Feb 19 '16 at 19:46
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    $\begingroup$ Such a demonstration would be great: they'd back up their claims with actual proof, and the debate on pluto being a planet would be settled. $\endgroup$ – Alex Zuan Aug 26 '16 at 13:22

I'd like to submit my take on this situation:

These aliens presumably have the weaponry to blow us to bits and then take our resources. Or work out a deal with say .. China .. and destroy the rest of the world, leaving behind a single population with which they are partners (or the masters of)

Instead however, they offer us technology and an alliance in exchange for resources and military personnel, whom they are willing to support (read train, clothe, arm, etc.)

This sounds like a very generous deal, and while your initial reaction might be that "it's too good to be true", and to wait for the other shoe to drop, I'd like to point out that if these aliens had magic-like mind control tech, or wanted to otherwise screw with us they could do it without announcing it to the world before hand.

And so, I think their offer is genuine. They may not be saints, but the fact that their first reaction is to offer to trade with us, not simply enslave mankind and take what they want is telling.

I think they are demonstrating honorable behavior, and can be trusted.

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    $\begingroup$ You mentioned something very important with the "China" example : there will be a conflict of nations here on Earth between those who support accepting the alien's offer and those who refuse it and consider them a threat. $\endgroup$ – Javert Feb 19 '16 at 14:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Javert - there may be, but whomever accepts the offer will automatically have the upper hand (alien tech), so it would be a short-lived conflict. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Feb 19 '16 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ Manga - Cannon God Exxxaction - "Peaceful" aliens come to Earth, offer trade, offer advances in technology. After we adopt their tech (including into all our military tech), they reveal that A> they were giving us stuff that was about 100 years behind their real tech level, and B> everything they gave us has a back door off switch. They announce they're taking over, then turn off all our military tech so we can't even fight back. $\endgroup$ – Tiwaz Tyrsfist Jul 31 '16 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ @TiwazTyrsfist - 1) if they are so advanced they can take us over without first giving us any tech 2) humanity would figure out what's what, and find the switch. We're not idiots, and we don't blindly adopt foreign tech in sensitive applications without understanding the consequences. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Jul 31 '16 at 20:21

In this situation I think we would have little choice. They are technologically superior and so far ahead of us that we would not be able to stand against them.

What we would do is start using our internal divisions on earth as an excuse to do the minimum possible to help race A while at the same time trying to gain their technology and work out how to defend ourselves.

In the meantime we would investigate race B and try to work out which side (if any) we actually want to be on in this war.

Note that quiet a few of your premises seem...strange. Galaxies are a long way apart, that's a lot of distance to take a few soldiers. Additionally human soldiers are already becoming obsolete, what would an advanced alien race with far superior tech ever want them for?

  • $\begingroup$ Additionally human soldiers are already becoming obsolete, what would an advanced alien race with far superior tech ever want them for? ManPower, maybe they have to have more People to mount and operate all the fancy weapons. It's no problem for them to build them in short time, but their reproduction cycle is taking too long.. $\endgroup$ – Bounce Feb 19 '16 at 12:49
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe humans are smaller but still intelligent creatures. If you need a intelligent-entity-controlled craft, but can make it half as big because it only needs to contain a creature half the size, that's a good reason. $\endgroup$ – Pimgd Feb 19 '16 at 14:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Pimgd Or drop the pilot entirely and have it flown by a computer. A fraction of the weight, can cope with much higher g forces, no need for life support, doesn't get tired, etc, etc $\endgroup$ – Tim B Feb 19 '16 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ @TimB As I was saying, if you need an intelligent-entity-controlled something... something for which computers would work, but not as good. ... It's a possibility? $\endgroup$ – Pimgd Feb 19 '16 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Pimgd Not really, not if their tech is enough ahead of ours for not just interstellar but intergalactic travel to be possible. At that point AIs will be so far ahead of people that best case scenario we're basically pets/friends/companions. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Feb 19 '16 at 14:45

So, assuming that this is legitimately a choice, and not a veiled threat:

Why we should refuse: Because it's an incredibly shady deal...everything about it sounds like a lie.

Their request for raw resources (water, food, minerals, etc) in particular sounds like misdirection. As in "Hey, we really need to buy resources from you, and if you could spare some people also, that'd be great". They'd be able to tell from monitoring our radio transitions that we are a species well accustomed to bartering, so trading goods for information would not be unusual to us.

The problem is that there's absolutely no reason for them to come all the way to another galaxy to get things like water or minerals (these could be easily claimed from literally billions of uninhabited worlds, or even asteroids).

That leaves one thing: people. They came to an entirely different galaxy and came to Earth in particular to get humans.

Why we would accept: Because, when it comes to humanity, there is no "we". Multiple nations would make deals with the aliens to prevent their competitors (even allies) from gaining unilateral access to literally superhuman technology.

Even within nations which absolutely refuse to deal with the aliens, there could be corporations who make secret arrangements to secure unique technology.

At the lowest level, we're just a mob of individuals, and the aliens would get at least some volunteers. Some would be thrill-seekers, or soldiers of fortune, or scientists, or those who feel there's nothing left for them on Earth.

In the end: Even if the volunteers were to return one day, and confirm that everything the aliens said was true...how could we know that the people who returned are the same ones who left, rather than clones or other simulacra? How could we know that their minds and memories still their own?

Humans, as a species, would probably never wholly trust the aliens until we gained power over them--it's just how Natural Selection made us.

  • $\begingroup$ Exactly, maybe the whole war thing is just one big lie to conduct experimentations on humans who volunteered. $\endgroup$ – Javert Feb 19 '16 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Javert An alien race with that much power would not need our cooperation to get people to experiment on. They need not even alert us to their existence (that serves their purposes better). $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat Sep 2 '16 at 14:50

Idea 1: Alien Romans

Simple, the aliens are in the same sort of situation the Romans were in during the collapse of their empire. For those of you who do not know, for various reasons, the Western Romans conscripted barbarian tribes into their armies. These tribes usually lived on the border between the Empire and the regions controlled by even more barbarous tribes. While Rome spent her own citizen armies fighting civil wars, the Barbarians became simultaneously more powerful and treated worse. Eventually they got fed up with it and invaded the Empire under chieftans such as Alaric of the Goths and divvied up the western empire into rival kingdoms.

Now, this alien empire is fighting a space-equivalent of a "barbaric race", and has decided that Humanity, having made it this long without destroying itself with nuclear capabilities and having very strong martial traditions from millenia of warfare between rival states, would make a great client species and an adequate buffer between themselves and the even worse "barbarian" aliens.

They[the "Roman" aliens] present this to our diplomats, and while somewhat insulted, key officials agree to the conditions in the hopes of taking advantage of the collapsing empire, grabbing as much tech and technology they can before the inevitable collapse that is soon to come. After we have their military technology, we do not need to remain beholden to the aliens, and can take control of the ships with humans aboard and become the most powerful race in this galaxy.

Idea 2: Alien supply lines

While the benevolent Graxoblox have the ability to take our world by force, they have not become a multi-galaxy empire via military conquest alone. Most of their "empire" is comprised of client species that have signed treaties with them for technology. These species are very gradually integrated into the Imperium over millenia. They have recently established a foothold colony in our galaxy, and have encountered several species hostile to this agreement. The time and energy required to travel between the expanding void between galaxies is prohibitive to military encounters, and the vanguard of the force needs somewhere to resupply.

The Groxblox diplomats make it clear to us that we can either A.) Support the Groxblox Imperium as a client species, keep much of our independence, and recieve technology and other rewards for our allegiance, or B.) They will find another species who will, then they will come back to wreak revenge on us once they have been resupplied and place us under the rule of said other species. They would, in this case, also have to provide some sort of proof of their power as other answers have stated.

Idea 3: Alien race B is a danger to all life in the unverse and A can prove it.

The age old enemy that everyone shares. Think of the Flood in Halo, a parasitic race that will devour all carbon-based(presumably) intelligent life in the galaxy. Alien race A does not have enough forces in this cluster to guard all the races threatened by the "Flood". Alien race A views itself as a guardian race, and cannot abandon us to the scourge, but it cannot protect us. They would have to prove that this species is a threat to us, possibly by bringing a sample for us to examine. The aliens might be planning to use us to man our portion of our galaxy as we are a numerous, warlike species that has acquired nuclear technology and not blown itself to kingdom come.


I think a lot of answers are flawed in that they consider what the entire Earth's response will be, and not what certain Earthlings responses will be. We are, after all, a group of individuals, not a collective.

The first step is to think about what aliens might want from us. As JDLugosz points out, they probably don't want our resources, since those you can find anywhere. And they probably don't want our technology, since they came from outside the galaxy to find us. And they probably don't want something undefined like our 'potential' since I assume they want to win the war now and not wait until we transcend into something better than what we are now. So that means, they want us for our species' biology.

There are many options for what could be so unique and useful about us, especially if intelligent spacefaring species are vanishingly rate. If there are are only a few dozen civilizations in the space era in the galaxy, that makes it relatively likely that our extra-galactic visitors decide we are the best placed to help them. What we will not be useful for is any sort of space combat. But what if their biology is poisoned by oxygen and they want to invade and occupy the homeworlds of a species that lives in an oxygen atmosphere? What if they or their enemies are evolved to 'see' in the infra-red or ultraviolet spectrum, and there is some tactical advantage to being able to see in the 'visible' light spectrum? What if, as opposed to the big alien theory, all aliens really are little green men of varying sorts, and big mean violence prone humans have a huge advantage in combat.

Here on earth, there are plenty of advanced weapons to be found, yet in the record of (near-constant) wars over the last 20 years, in Syria, Congo, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and more, almost none of these weapons were used. AEGIS destroyers never took on fleets of cruise missiles, submarines and airfraft carriers never played hide-and-seek, F-22s never went head to head with SU-30s, and certainly no-one has nuked anyone else in while. Instead, almost all the killing is being done with technology at least 100 years old, semi-automatic rifles, mortars and light artillery, and the odd machete. Maybe this is the war these transcendantly technological aliens are fighting, and they need some real backwards violence prone hillbilly/jihadi/Albanian gangster species to get into it.

In conclusion, if aliens want help in war, they need us because of our physical characteristics, backwardness, and propensity for violence. If that is the case, they absolutely do not need to come asking the UN for permission. They need mercenaries, and those are easy to find on this planet. Since they will be able to offer pay that simply cannot be found on Earth, volunteers will be everywhere. Think of how easy it was for the colonial powers on earth to enlist poor Indians/Africans/others into colonial armies, then multiply that by a thousand. Hell, if they asked younger me 10 years ago (around the time I dropped out of college and got shipped off to Marine boot camp about 6 days later) I would most certainly have said yes. They'll get their mercenaries.

  • $\begingroup$ excellent. I would like to add - we would like to test our weapon of mass destruction against something that isn't humans, so secret agreements and other conspiracy tactics from government's side is possible. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Oct 18 '16 at 4:05

The main reason to accept this deal is that, even considering the excellent reasons others have posted that explain why we should be skeptical, refuse, etc., the bottom line is that gaining intergalactic space travel, or weapons/technologies that push us much closer towards a viable interplanetary, interstellar, or intergalactic society, is such a huge incentive for humanity as a whole and world leaders specifically, that it'd almost be impossible for at least one nation to resist making a deal. The best outcome for humanity is that, in an effort to avoid creating serious imbalances in power, the world would unite at least partially, and send a number of soldiers from each military as a "Human Expeditionary and Exploratory Force" or something along those lines, and have had the opportunity to train with and adapt to the alien technology provided. This would in some senses be similar to the U.N.; countries that send soldiers to act as Peacekeepers are paid extra, outfitted by the U.N., and then get to take that equipment home with them once their service is complete.

Second, the aliens' need for our resources could prove extremely profitable for our planet. Instead of harvesting our own planet for these resources, we could demand some unarmed space ships, then jointly create a corporation that mines and harvests many of these resources (except for food) from other planets in our solar system. Those proceeds could then be directed towards creating a multinational government and accompanying military which has the explicit purpose of providing a legitimate human political entity with which to interact with this alien species, and to further explore and colonize our solar system and surrounding ones.

The arrival of a technologically advanced race that is part of an intergalactic community in which conflict clearly is present would also likely force humanity's hand because, like it or not, one way or another we are now known to that community as a whole and thus in sudden and desperate need of leveling the playing field to an extent.

I think that it's unlikely that this alien race would need resources from humans, because intergalactic travel strongly implies that they also have the ability to easily extract resources from planets, asteroids, etc. I would like to offer some other possible explanations that they would need human military support, however.

  • This alien race could, in the vein of the Romans, consider humans as potentially useful and valuable auxiliaries, with compensation in the form of citizenship/trade/etc.

  • Similar to the Krogans cited above, they may be in need of help on the ground

  • perhaps they're fighting a primarily ground-based, urban war, when they're used to fighting mostly in space, and after stumbling upon us, they concluded that our knowledge of infantry combat could be valuable as trainers/advisors/shock troops

  • the war they're fighting is at a stalemate and they're trying to find a way, any way, to break it, and view humanity as providing some kind of advantage, minor or major


Now this is an unusual scenario, but the closest parallel that I can think of is the Krogans of Mass Effect. It's complex, but the whole gist of things is that the rest of the alien races weren't strong enough to fight the Rachni (bugs from Starship Troopers). Why?


These guys are extremely intelligent, amphibian people who have made large leaps and advances in the natural sciences and biology. Unfortunately, they are physically squishy, have short lifespans and aren't really that great at waging war since most of their people are intellectual types. Your PHD in neurobiology and nice guns isn't going to help you survive harsh conditions and grievous injuries.


Space elves with long lifespans that have powerful biotic powers, but also have an incredibly low reproduction rate and a culture that's more focused on the arts and humanities. Magical powers are cool, but the lack of heavy ordinance and a large regular army stops them from fighting a conventional conflict.


Collectivist bird like warriors that invest most of their resources into waging war. Their soldiers are mobile, relatively durable and possess the resources to field support vehicles. They're about on par with humans, so most of their might comes down to tactics and technology as well. Unfortunately, they still don't have the physical durability to wage an extended war on ground against a horde of space insects.


A technologically primitive but physically strong race of alligator like reptiles. These guys can take large amounts of damage, they're extremely strong and can carry a lot of ordinance, and they're aggressive. All they need is some alien tech to get in the fight against those nasty space bugs.

Why would aliens need humans?

Maybe those aliens have some physical limitations that stops them from fighting a prolonged conflict. Being technologically advanced does not ensure that they are also physically fit to fight a war. Every conflict is won by putting boots on the ground.

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    $\begingroup$ Initially I was bemused by your long diversion into the specifics of Mass Effect, but you're right: the key question is "why do you need humans?" Unless the humans can get a convincing answer on this point, they should be very suspicious. Then there is the little question of whether it is entirely ethical or wise to jump straight into a war even if the aliens are sincere. $\endgroup$ – Lostinfrance Feb 20 '16 at 13:38

We are a sizable force

Are you familiar with the Big Alien theory? Basically it says that aliens are likely bigger than us, live on smaller worlds and exist in smaller groups.

How can we know this? Well, mathematics says that if a person does not know what group they fall in, we are likely to fall in a common one. There are four steps here;

Step 1: Consider the following sentence;

"I am more likely to have a common blood type than a rare one"

Does this seem reasonable? If you disagree with this statement: Gather some of your personal data and compare it with the global population. These can include country of birth; blood type; hair colour; and so on. Do you find yourself falling into the higher population categories? This data should lead you to conclude that you are an ordinary human - your properties reflect the global distribution.

STEP 2: Imagine you have woken up with amnesia and have forgotten where you are from.

"I am more likely to have been born in a high population country than a low population country"

This follows from the blood test statement in Step 1. Imagine a new sensitive blood test which identifies your country of birth. The countries will small populations ike Andorra are the rare blood types, while the larger countries - any which have a population over 10 million - are the common blood types.

STEP 3: Now imagine humans have already colonised other planets such as Mars. These colonies are just like new countries, except a little further away. So in line with step 2, we must conclude that:

"I am more likely to have been born in a high population planet then a low population planet"

STEP 4: What if those colonies on other planets had not travelled from the Earth, but had evolved there?

If we reach the same end result via a different route, why should our beliefs differ? These steps bring us to the conclusion that, if other sentient species exist, we should expect ours to have an unusually high population. Take a look at the pie charts below to get an idea of just how different we may be.

If we reach the same end result via a different route, why should our beliefs differ? These steps bring us to the conclusion that, if other sentient species exist, we should expect ours to have an unusually high population. Take a look at the pie charts below to get an idea of just how different we may be.


On the left we see the different populations of all the countries in the world. Most are less then ten million. On the right we see exactly the same data from a very different perspective: the distribution of population sizes if you were to interview everyone and ask their nationalities. The larger countries are counted much more often, so now most are over 100 million. You will very rarely meet someone from a country with a population of under 1 million. The same applies to population of aliens;

enter image description here

magine that planet populations are distributed in the same pattern that the countries on Earth are, just with a higher average value. If our population sits roughly mid-way through the right hand chart, then that is what an individual should to experience. In terms of citizenship among intelligent individuals, we are oridinary. But in that case, most planets will have a very much smaller population. In this simplistic example, most intelligent species have populations of under 60 million.

Using some simple physics and fancy mathmatics, which you can read on their site, we can assume the likelihood of the following sizes;

enter image description here

Knowing that species with smaller sizes have a larger population density, we can assume aliens live on smaller worlds and exist in smaller groups, due to the fact that being larger is more likely.

What does this have to do with war? Well, using this theory, we know we exist as a species with a larger population than most. By this logic, we are the ants and aliens are the beetles and the spiders, they can kill dozens of us, but as a whole we have strength in numbers, making us a powerful force for an alien military.

  • $\begingroup$ The population reasoning is heavily flawed. Alien species are a complete unknown quantity. If you're isolated on an island, you can reason that a small island has a small population - notably your lonesome self - and a large island would have a large one. However, this does not take into account that every landmass on earth has been ravaged by plague and you're now the last surviving human. No matter how much of a statistical spin you put on it, all you know is that you're on an island. Put differently, you're making a statistics-heavy argument with a statistically-insignificant sample. $\endgroup$ – UIDAlexD Aug 22 '16 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ @UIDAlexD the website explains it better, I had to cut a lot away. $\endgroup$ – TrEs-2b Aug 22 '16 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ A friend and I had the same idea but with different reasoning. Getting off Earth is fairly difficult, to the point that we're actually near the gravitational limit for space exploration (I've read this elsewhere, but I can't recall the source.) Since we're near the highest possible gravity that still allows us to get off-world, we're far more likely to encounter light-worlders than heavy-worlders, and lower gravity would mean they can easily evolve larger bodies with weaker muscles. TL;DR If they're in space they're bigger and weaker than us. $\endgroup$ – UIDAlexD Aug 22 '16 at 19:29
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    $\begingroup$ An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician were on a train heading north, and had just crossed the border into Scotland. The engineer looked out of the window and said "Look! Scottish sheep are black!" The physicist said, "No, no. Some Scottish sheep are black." The mathematician looked irritated. "There is at least one field, containing at least one sheep, of which at least one side is black." $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 23 '16 at 14:31
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    $\begingroup$ «I am more likely to have been born in a high population country than a low population country» suppose 999 countries with population 100 and 1 country with population 5000. 999×100+5000=104900. A randomly chosen person has a 5% chance of being from a big country. Your argument doesn’t consider the relative distribution and the fact that smaller groups have a larger combined total. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 26 '16 at 12:39

To me this seems more like a test. Since traveling from another galaxy is generally a fantasy even among visionaries of worm holes and ultra warp drives.

So you have an alien race that comes from another GALAXY asking US for help when we can barely get off of our own ball of dirt, and have 1 space craft just leaving our solar system.

What could we POSSIBLY offer such a race other than shock troops to die as front liners or allow them to 'bypass' some treaty without breaking the letter of it?

So either they are testing us to see if we are ready to join a wider existence in inter-galactic affairs, or they need us as a species for their cause. Which could be a new species in their voting block, or one that hasn't agreed to some treaty and thus are exempt or as some kind of soldier sacrifice that means something more than droid ships but aren't their own people.

They are bribing us pretty heavily so no mater our qualms we would likely agree. And on top of that. They pose a huge threat, proof merely by showing up here from another galaxy in a time frame that allows for back and forth in a 'reasonable' manner. Otherwise they wouldn't 'need' our help. So we say yes, from both the bribe and the threat and try to learn what we have gotten ourselves into.


Plenty of examples in our own history of countries making alliances with a stronger country against others just because they seemed to have the better hand. Look at WWII and after. Obviously we are getting something material from them in return but more importantly we know nothing about race B. The only things we would know is what comes from race A. If they portray race B as the biggest evil in the galaxy and themselves as the only good thing that stands between us and them, we would help race A. People have done that plenty of times. Even more if, true or not, they make it seems like they are winning the war and our help would end it faster. we would be on the winning side. Simply put we would be the flea that feels stronger just because its on the back of the bigger dog. What seems weird to me is why would they want our resources, specially petroleum, when they travel through space and have a whole galaxy to use...should be a red flag.


On A Condition

They could be easily putting up a scam to get free resources.

1.Ask them to give you the weapons before you give the resources. At least you could defend yourself. If these are made from earth materials and not dark matter(eg. a highly concentrated laser) get a team of advanced scientists to replicate it.

  1. How many aliens do they have? Did the war just start or are they in the middle of one. If the latter, they may have been ambushed and a colony of a couple hundred thousand may have escaped on a pod, and they would have picked up our radio signals(real thing) and tried to locate the source. Then it may be a responsible agreement, assuming Earth followed rule No 1.

Some great answers, but I notice that nearly all of them focus on judging whether the Race A aliens are sincere. Um, even if they are totally sincere, joining an interspecies war is not the sort of decision you want to make lightly. Race B could be innocent victims whom Race A want to exterminate because of their completely sincere belief that anyone with more than four limbs is an abomination. Or Race B could be powerful and ruthless beings whose response to being bothered by a lesser race is to squash its planet as we would destroy a wasps' nest (Race A sincerely think that racial extinction while fighting against impossible odds is an honour that those nice humans would love to share).

All in all, I think we'd best be a little bit circumspect on this one. Tell Race A that we'll be right back to them with our decision just as soon as the U.N. committee containing representatives from every nation that we've set up to discuss the question comes to unanimous agreement.


reality-check fails

  • They came from another galaxy.

  • They want our resources : water, food, minerals, natural gas, petroleum…

Earth is an insignificant spec compared to a galaxy of hundreds of billions of worlds. Even within our own solar system you can find more water on Jupiter’s moons.

We will be searching off-world for resources ourselves! Why would someone come here for them?

See Can an interstellar war be remunerative from an economic point of view?, and Resources to justify long-distance space mining missions among others already discussed here.

  • $\begingroup$ Note that the OP used the reality-check tag, so answers of this form are OK. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 26 '16 at 13:02

The thing people aren't considering in this is the hidden price. Race A isn't asking for just people and resources. It's asking for humanity to add itself to Race B's shitlist. The very fact they are asking for humanity's help shows that they are uncertain of victory, so without knowing anything about B, joining the war is madness.

The historical analogy here is of Aristagoras enlisting the Athenians in helping his revolt against the Persian Empire. A decision that almost ended in the total destruction of the Greeks.


Why Humans Support The A

Humans are likely to side with Alien race A who we know, like and trust, against the reprehensible and totally alien B's, whom we have never met and only have A's propaganda as evidence. The unpatriotic pacifists will object and will be dealt with via government censure or public relations protocol depending on the regime of their local nation.

I suspect one world federal government would follow a few years after first contact, especially if The A don't want to deal with multiple competing countries leaders.

However, if The A are truly from another galaxy (not solar system) then we are truly doomed (assuming intergalactic travel is harder than interstellar travel the way interstellar is harder than solar-system travel).

Regardless of origin, The A's technological superiority means all scientific inquiry on Earth stagnates and ceases within a generation of first contact unless The A's are actively sharing knowledge. See Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End for detail on why. But the summary is that if your technology allows you to make fire and don't yet have a wheel, gunpowder and aircraft are unattainable in your lifetime and insufficient new scholars take up the field. Earth becomes a cargo cult.

Let us assume Humans like the "advanced civilisation" that The A offer. It could be like the Fuegians taken to Europe on the First Voyage of the Beagle - the savages saw no use for European culture.

Assume also humans have the capacity to learn the advanced mathematics, physics and engineering required to become equal citizens in the interstellar community. We will sign an alliance with A in return for their help in advancing human (or national) knowledge. Otherwise we become a cargo cult or suffer as all indigenous people have from colonial contact.

If there are some resources that are valuable enough to extract from Earth we'd share them. We'd have to take the A's word that they need the resources and were not just putting on a show (like the original series of "V"). Probably the only reason to harvest resources on Earth is that they are here and it is convenient as opposed to mining the asteroid belt and Jupiter's moons.

The War

Assume that inter-galactic war is affordable and prosecutable i.e. possible.

Human Troops

Now why would human troops be useful to The A in a war? Again we'd have to take The A's word on this.

What Intergalactic War Can't Have

  • The war must not be fought with autonomous drones (AI or programmed) or robots.
  • Manpower must matter on some level, so boots on ground wins the peace doctrine.
  • Faster-than-Light travel is convenient, practical, fast and cheap.
  • Faster-than-Travel communications is possible.

Possible Reasons for Human Troops


The A and The B have small populations, which probably means they are long lived and slow reproducing. They may have vassal/ancillary forces that are more numerous to make up numbers. And for some reason drones and machines can't fill out the numbers.

War on a massive distance/time scale

The war is so massive that it doesn't matter how many troops you have, you always need more. Time/Distance scale is endless. Technological advances make this tricky.

Interstellar Civilisation is wide and anarchaic

Everybody is taking care of Number 1 and there is no or very weak centralised authority or organisation. So this is more of a recruiting drive for the British East India company than The Few. The Proud. The Marines. Most of the war would be skirmishing.

The A or The B as Insurgents

A more modern take on this tale has either The A being an insurgency or responding to The B's insurgency. Rinse & repeat. Either way more troops are needed for suicide or policing.

Evolution and Psychology

What if humans were among the rare "intelligent" species still capable of aggression against sentient species? What if the normal evolutionary path to civilisation meant warring civilisations normally annihilated themselves before first contact. The A may not be psychologically able to pull a trigger in organised warfare. This is the Humans Are Warriors trope.




They want our resources and our people to fight. Meaning

  • their technology isn't good enough to work without our resources. It might be better than ours, but not million years better if they are jumping worlds to gather more.
  • their population numbers are low (probably because they have exhausted their resources).
  • $\begingroup$ I'm constantly amused by that exhausted they resources - and I'm seeking for wisdom: what that means and how it is possible. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Aug 26 '16 at 11:32
  • $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg it was a typo. I have "learned" english walking the talk. $\endgroup$ – celerno Aug 26 '16 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ u misunderstood, I'm not a gramarnazi, my english is far from noticing such minuscule details. I'm asking about meaning, what it means for you exhausting of resources in solar system/planet. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Aug 26 '16 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg Ups, yep I did misunderstood. Ok. If they want our resources, it means they have the technology prepared for them. So, this tells us that they used to had similar resources on their planet until they squeeze it. Also, if they need humans for their troops, it could mean their race is facing extinction. $\endgroup$ – celerno Aug 26 '16 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ So you talk about pure abstraction of expendable something as it could be named a resource, and do not mean something in particular. So we can't make some guesses how much of such we have, except of humans, if they could be such a resource. Ok, understood. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Aug 26 '16 at 23:23

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