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If an alien race visited us, is there any possible reason they would care to interact with us? They would already have a percentage of light speed, access to many worlds, technology unimaginable by us. Interaction would be on the same scale as us to Cro-Magnon man or lower. Their culture would not even have the same goals as us. Would they interact?

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    $\begingroup$ Why would you assume they have tech much greater than ours? It might be a ship that traveled sublight with cryo bays. This might be the first and only world they visit --- theirs was dying and they came to the only solar system in their range. $\endgroup$ – SRM Feb 28 '17 at 6:39
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    $\begingroup$ @SRM Bear with me. Any alien species that can arrive here in sublight spacecraft with cryo bays would be so far in advance of us technologically it wouldn't be funny. It's not like we're zipping around the cosmos in our own sublight vessels with cryo bays. Any alien spacecraft will need about 400 million times more energy to go interstellar than our best efforts. If they have decelerate too their vessels energetically go up another factor of 400 million. If their home planet was dying, I'd be worried. $\endgroup$ – a4android Feb 28 '17 at 8:31
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    $\begingroup$ Wouldn't you like to have a chat with ants if you could? $\endgroup$ – tuomas Feb 28 '17 at 10:10
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    $\begingroup$ Obviously, the answer is "no", since they haven't yet. $\endgroup$ – ths Feb 28 '17 at 10:53
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    $\begingroup$ On the flipside, when us humans finally get space travel, would we stop caring about interacting with aliens since we'd no longer have need to? If your answer is "no, of course not", ask yourself "why not?". I suspect the answer for the aliens would be the same as the answer for humans. $\endgroup$ – Pharap Feb 28 '17 at 14:49

14 Answers 14

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Three scenarios come to mind, based on the assumption that there is nothing to learn about technology from humans and the idea that we are "rare":

  • We are a curiosity. We are a strange creature to come across in the universe. Perhaps the aliens have all the physics and chemistry figured out, but when it comes to alien (alien to them, that is... us) biology and psychology, there could be research to be done. Certainly, the vast universe, there is virtually endless possibilities... you just cannot pretend to know all there is to know about alien biology and psychology. In addition, we, humans, certainly are not all over the place. More research needed, do experiments! Let's see how they react to this bacteria.... hmm... it makes red dots appear in their skin, good, good.

  • We are an endangered species. Why do we keep zoological parks? Is it because we may need some precious resource, or is there some knowledge these creatures may have that we need? No, it is because it is an effort to preserve and document creatures. Although this actually makes a good argument to declare Earth a... ern... "galactically park", that is meant to not be disturbed. You can come and watch rare creatures! Just keep your distance and do not feed the humans!

  • We are entertainment. Derived from the idea above, we may not be in a zoo, but we may be in a circus! - Aliens secretly control politics and the media. They cause misinformation, scarcity and wars! It is all to have us come up with new inventions, fight for resources, and feed media production... all for the amusement of aliens. After all, they have interstellar travel figured out; it is not like there is much more to learn. Nobody exists on purpose, Nobody belongs anywhere, everybody is goinna die, come watch the humans.

So, is our planet a laboratory, a natural reserve, or circus?


Ok, here are some more hitchhikeresque ideas:

  • Everything grows somewhere. In the vast universe, full of possibilities... there is no need to build anything. You just have to figure out where does it happen naturally and pick it up. Maybe we manufacture some material (that doesn’t happen in nature), and they just take it. Or for the more dark variant... we are delicious!

  • We are in the way. A wormhole network goes across the galaxy. Turns out, we are just in a bad location. Since aliens need to demolish Earth for their circumvallation route. They may as well take advantage of the planet first... extract any useful resources, perhaps use it as test ground for a few weapons. Eventually demolition will come.

  • We are a threat. This sounds weird, but it just happens that we did not know what we were doing. Our experiments with nuclear energy and particles accelerators are messing up with the higher dimensions (heck, in fact, that is what we want to do). Such a primitive species with access to that technology is a risk; they need to keep close watch on us. Insert ancient gods plot for a darker twist.

Addendum:

  • Refuge, the home planet of the aliens is dying/has been destroyed. They have found a "nearby" planet with abundant natural resources and potentially habitable. Of course, that's Earth. These aliens either try to surivive hiding from humans, or try to settle in some inhabited land... or they will try to get rid of humans.
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  • $\begingroup$ Of course we are a threat. The aliens know they themselves were once primitive. In time, Earth would learn how to travel the cosmos with advanced weapons. $\endgroup$ – DrZ214 Feb 28 '17 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ Some stories also used the "We are an energy source" concept, based on the fact that humans have some unique traits that are not found elsewere and can be exploited for energy generation. $\endgroup$ – BgrWorker Feb 28 '17 at 16:16
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A good example to go from here is how technologically advanced powers interact with vastly less advanced ones on Earth today. In today's world of VR, reusable rocket ships, and online Worldbuilding forums, there are still many societies that still live in what is essentially the stone age. Generally speaking, modern interactions with them tend to involve National Geographic reporters visiting them as a curiosity. For Aliens to venture to Earth in the first place they'd have to be curious, so I can definitely see a tourism/research angle.

Also, humans tend to have a kindhearted streak, and there's no reason why Aliens shouldn't feel the same way. As such, an Alien Peace Corps could be possible, giving us advanced medicine and the like out of altruism's sake. For that matter, Alien UN Interventions could be a thing to prevent Earth wars.

Finally, many criminal organizations will exploit defenseless tribal groups to take advantage of their land/resources/manpower. Even if alien governments keep humanity at arms length, if we truly were that defenseless then some aliens would almost certainly come here and try to exploit us.

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    $\begingroup$ A good example of "how technologically advanced powers interact with vastly less advanced ones on Earth today" is also to look our impact on various types of animals, insects, and microorganisms. We don't even need to intentionally interact to have an enormous effect on them and the environment they need - the side effects of us being there are completely enough to dominate the fate of a species. $\endgroup$ – Peteris Feb 28 '17 at 9:35
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    $\begingroup$ Your answer reminded me of an interesting view on the Predator movies, being that Predator is actually a rich dentist-like guy in his home world, going on a fancy trophy hunting safari, much like rich folks here on earth do when hunting big game in Africa. $\endgroup$ – Raf Feb 28 '17 at 10:30
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    $\begingroup$ They could also be 'helping' us through what looks like altruism but what is actually closer to exploitation. See the Aschen storyline from Stargate as an example $\endgroup$ – Robotnik Mar 1 '17 at 4:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Bert - we're worried that bacteria from our ships could pollute our search for extraterrestrial life by accidentally providing said 'life' for us to 'find'. That has nothing to do with preventing human-caused alien diseases. $\endgroup$ – Robotnik Mar 1 '17 at 4:25
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    $\begingroup$ Are you sure you meant to write "criminal organizations" as opposed to "governments and/or corporations"? $\endgroup$ – DRF Mar 1 '17 at 14:19
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We don't know much about other sentient beings. We might fascinate them if we're unique in some way.

For example, aliens would likely not be surprised that we have wars and quarrels, since they stem from basic Game Theory - unless they happen to be monadic species (e.g. Whole Ocean Being or Sentient Star) - in this case existence of great multiple of similar sentient beings who appear and disappear might intrigue them to no end.

Another consideration aliens will not be surprised by love - unless they are reproduced by pollination or are hive species. In this case, the whole idea of love between two sentient beings might draw them immensily. We think of us as of very cynical species, but for really competitive aliens we might be the Verona of the galaxy. Come to think of it, every person is not only theoretically capable of feeling love, but is supposed to find it!

We don't know how we are unique but I assume we might hit at least something. The way we eat? The way we talk? The idea of poetry or music?

In our own world, India and Japan seem to be examples of cultures with innate curiosity pull.

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Some aliens will interact...and some will not.

Without commonly accepted "real" documentation of alien beings visiting Earth to use for reference material in an answer, I will answer based on personal experience of observation of an intelligent species currently on Earth - ourselves.

Some people on Earth are very ego-centric, living lives that involve primarily only themselves and their closest circle of people, be it family, neighbors, coworkers, community members, etc. This circle extends out as large or as small as they choose, and differs over time as their life experiences and environments change. These kinds of people do not venture out of their created circles at all to investigate or participate in the goings-on of other circles near or far. They may be struggling just to find their next meal and a safe place to sleep, or they may very involved in a rich, activity filled life that keeps them extremely busy from dusk to dawn...but still within their own circle of involvement.

Other people on Earth are different than this in that they feel a connection to all other people (and any life species, really) sharing time with them on this planet. While they usually also have an internal circle, they do not have hard boundaries to their "circle", which is really more of an amorphous, blobby sphere of inclusivity that allows them to bring in any and all people they connect with as they go about living. They tend to seek out new experiences and find ways to interact with many different kinds of people, sometimes just to learn from others, sometimes to help or inspire others, and sometimes to teach and share something of themselves with them.

Then there are the many people who fit somewhere in between the descriptions of these two kinds of people.

If the actions of any of these kinds of people occurs at others expense too excessively, be it on a small or large scale, naturally this gets curbed eventually by counteractions of protective, helpful types.

So...

Of the other intelligent species ("aliens") around, some will fly right on by, all involved in their own circles of life and pay us no attention, if they even notice we exist.

"Hey Mom, were those lights on down there on that planet?!"

"Stop trying to change the subject...we were talking about how you are going to call up and apologize to the neighbors the very second we drop back in to Fornax..."

You might wonder if an exception to this might be if the alien is in a circle of struggling for their next meal and notice we happen to fit their idea of food, but this is extremely unlikely, as I suspect the nature of inter-stellar or inter-dimensional travel is not something they can attempt in that state. Think of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, alien-style. Those at the bottom of the pyramid are not practicing their cross-space travel skills. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs

Some will be right down here in the thick of us -- highly interactive and involved--here to learn from us, help or inspire us, or teach and share something of themselves with us.

Some will fall in between those extremes, and more randomly pop in for a quick look-see or maybe a more extended stay, depending on how things are going in their own "circles".

And when some aliens cause excessive harm to people here, they will eventually be dealt with by the more protective, helpful types.

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  • $\begingroup$ That is an interesting idea Earth as a Zoo for endangered species, with more thought a short story could be made $\endgroup$ – Rick S Mar 3 '17 at 6:25
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They are interested in grasshoppers, which they find fascinating. We happen to inhabit the same planet as grasshoppers, and they have to deal with us in order to study grasshoppers.

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  • $\begingroup$ That idea has never poped into my mind humm then we think they are here for us and we cant communicate with them because they are decedents of grasshoppers $\endgroup$ – Rick S Mar 3 '17 at 6:32
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There is youtube channel Primitive Technology, it's about showing some primitive ways of doing things, a pretty successful channel, and why people watch it. Sure they do that for different reasons, and not all do watch it.

If we would discover a stone age humans on a planet - it could be like a time machine for us. Same way as researching Mars can be a time machine in the past of our planet, Dr. Robert Zubrin, "Why Should We Go To Mars?".

Same way as astronomers look in the past of the universe.

If one is smart enough he can extract useful data from different kinds of opportunities, even if they may look a bit unusual at first glance "Tokyo rail network designed by Physarum plasmodium".

One of the reasons to talk to others is to be affected by the interaction in a way you would not influence yourself in absence of the interaction. In that sense talking to the ants is a very interesting thing, they are interesting creatures, and sure there is a good channel on youtube about them AntsCanada.

Even if you on the way of creating or have created the model of everything, like I suggest in the answer to the question Aliens are on their way. What can cause them to not understand us? (discussing model thing is significant part of the answer) and your possible knowledge is really superior to what we already have or will have in near future, even in the case you would like to interact with the species to test you model, to test you approaches, your ways of "talking" to them - just to use the opportunity to validate and check your model, to find things which are not known by the model.

I agree with other answers and comments of those who mentioned that it depends. That's true, there can be different cases, but the superiority of knowledge is not a reason to not interact, and I would say it's opposite of that. There can be an objection, in a case if they need undisturbed human behaviour, because how would our behavior be changed would we known for certain they do exist, but the answer again, depends on the situation, at some point it might be a good thing for them to let us know, or may not if they are not experienced enough or it had bad consequences for them or have some different goals.

So, the answer is yes, there might be reasons to interact with humans, not because they(humans) are so special, but because aliens may need that for their own reasons.(not exploiting, which is crappy idea, but as a part of their own ways of thinking and acquiring the knowledge for themselves)

One big X in the situation is the question - is there live in the universe except for our planet and if yes, then how often it happens. And if it is so rare how some of us expect it to be, then it might be an opportunity of the life for those aliens. However, I would recommend reading H. P. Lovecraft to raise awareness level and to think after reading on the question you ask, by imagining humans to be those aliens, and these Cthulhu's to be the aliens you consider to contact and to feel how would you be a bit worried about the destiny of your species. (or if awareness is high enough, to read something more relaxing)

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Space is big. Really big. Unimaginably big. Think of the biggest thing you have ever thought of. That is small compared to space.

Big.

Even for a type 2 civilization (capable of harnessing the entire output of a star), it takes a lot of energy to move mass at a noticable fraction of lightspeed between stars.

A planet is full of low quality computronium (life). The ecosystem is a type 1 civilization itself (in a sense), if not harnessed fully.

Imagine if Mars had a stone-age civilization on it. Even though we'd be able to fly there with really expensive rockets and land a few people and have technology like magic to them, the fact that they are there and we don't have to bring the stuff they have all the way from Earth would make them a valuable resource.

And Mars is close. Space is big.

If they are a type 3 civilization (have harnessed an entire galaxy), we are pretty sure they aren't in this galaxy (they are noticable); so they are even further away from home.

Now, as you know from history, while the "natives" of a lower technology area often are valuable and useful to the incoming high technology visitors, they do run into problems when the higher technology visitors manage to finance an entire colony and start an industrial revolution on their territory.

So this far from guarantees it will end well.

It could end poorly on really short time scales. You could imagine a starwisp (light, so cheap to move) arriving and finding our resources (like our ecosystem) useful, but quickly coopting our ecological support economy for something more useful (like, mass producing copies of itself).

This ends poorly for us, as we like having air to breathe.

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This is answered by a well-known principle in classical economics, David Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage. Ricardo showed that societies will trade goods even when on of the two has superior technology/resources such that it is able to produce every good more cheaply.

In a nutshell, when one society has superior production capability for every good, the total wealth for both is maximised by having the less efficient society focus on producing those goods for which their disadvantage is smallest, then trading it for the goods for which their disadvantage is greatest.

The aliens should be able to mine resources for their spacecraft from asteroids. But their production capacity will still be finite. They can simply make a little extra of some goods (probably high-tech stuff, e.g. graphene) and trade it for a larger amount of resources from Earth than what they could have mined with the same effort.

This can easily be extended to a trade in information. If humans are relatively better or worse at studying a particular discipline relative to absolutely superior aliens, the aliens can slightly reduce their manpower in the field at which humans are less bad to focus a little more of their effort in the field at which their advantage is greatest, then exchange notes. For example, they may want to just trade for our data on Earth biology instead of going to the effort of studying everything themselves even though they could theoretically do it better.

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If we assume that the alien race is capable of achieving a “percentage of light speed”, i.e. has no FTL technology that makes travelling the galaxy a daily trip, the space will still be a large empty void for them, which makes an inhabitable planet where you can stop, a valuable resource.

Travelling at e.g. 50% light speed still implies needing several years just to reach the next star. Even if you have enough can food for years, you might consider leaving the iron cage and walking under a real cloud a viable method for avoiding going mad.

It might be possible that searching for habitable planets to hop from one to another is the actual travelling strategy of the aliens.

Now, there are several possible scenarios, all of them including some kind of interaction, ranging from

“This habitable planet is occupied by an alien race. Exterminate. Standard procedure.”

to

“Before we can go on a vacation at an unused place on that planet, we have to ask the indigenous people for a permission”

Even if the alien’s standard procedure is landing at a not-so-crowded place without permission, ignoring locals unless they become a threat, it might occur to them, that we are about to destroy the most valuable resource of the planet, the ecosystem, and decide to intervene.

Since being capable of travelling with a significant percentage of light speed doesn’t necessarily imply being capable of moving arbitrary large masses at that speed, it is still imaginable that they prefer to load food, water or other agricultural products at the planets they stop in-between their journey and let the primitive locals deliver them in exchange for some technology that isn’t above their heads. Some people even believe that this has already happened in the past (or may even happen today, without the public noticing).

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Short answer: depends

If you look at species on earth, behavior differs a lot. And all those species developed on the same planet, influencing each other and having the same ancestors somewhere (very far) down the line.
The aliens have (probably) no connection with us. They are likely to be very - well - alien. They may be very open and want to educate us, like we try to educate apes or pets. They may not even recognize us as living beings if we are too different.

They already be trying to make contact but we don't notice because of the difference. Or because we are simply to dumb. Or they may be training and educating us without us knowing, because they are so superior to us. (Like humans do with some animals).

Point is, there is absolutely no way to know. But there is much room for speculation. That's why there are so many SF-Stories about this topic.

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1. Depends on the competition.

If the aliens are at war with the Gazronk Empire, or have just discovered the Karixi who can offer a wealth of trade, they're not going to have much time to bother with us. If, on the other hand, we're one of the most advanced civilizations they've encountered so far, they might take an interest in us.

2. Are aliens going to be more intelligent, or just have more technology?

In the last 100 years we have progressed from a pre-computing society to a highly digital society that has achieved space travel. Maybe the aliens are similarly intelligent but have just got better spaceships. If so, they will surely be interested in learning how we tackle our "big problems" — life and death, unemployment, crime, big-city logistics. It's easy to say "oh, advanced aliens will have better solutions than we do", but these problems are inherently challenging and advanced aliens might still struggle with them.

3. Maybe the aliens really value diversity.

How did they develop such advanced technology, anyhow? Perhaps by allowing varied ideas to be pursued, fostering different approaches to things. Maybe they let fledgling planets develop in their own way, to see what creative solutions they come up with.

This isn't that different from us protecting and studying nature to find inspiration for new technology, like aeroplanes, medicines, etc.

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If you look at the recent discoveries of organics traces found on Ceres, the proto-planet in the Asteroid Belt, as well as other traces of organics on Mars and finally some of the creatures living in crushing pressures beneath the ocean near vents, you realize that Life as we always think of it, isn't the norm.

In addition, they won't necessarily travel in a spaceship or have a humanoid or other "animal-like" appearance.

They could very well be microbial yet very powerful. They could also just travel on or in an asteroid, this is also one theory that gets frequently mentioned when thinking of the origin of Life on Earth.

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There is a subculture that believes aliens are already here. (Think Roswell etc.) Members of this subculture tend to think aliens are here because they live here, they were here long before humans evolved. Humans may be less than a million years old and significant life on Earth is half a billion years old (microbial life several billion years old.) Examples would be 'reptoids' who are intelligent dinosaurs dating back to the Cretaceous (evidence includes Naga type mythology; the Ubaid figurines in the British Museum) and 'humanoids' such Homo Capensis dating back before the last Ice Age.

Then there is the Sitchin sub-subculture which holds that aliens came here about 200,000 years ago and created man from a pre-existing ape creature as a servant to mine gold. They needed gold to seed gold dust into the upper level of their home planet's atmosphere because the ozone layer was all gone. Evidence includes man's genetic unlikeliness (being a rushed job for a particular task) and his irrational pursuit of gold.

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From what I have read, which were all very good points I am going to go with Earth being a product made by a group that specializes in building rest and resupply worlds.Since FLT is not in possession of any known race these world would be cultivated in the paths of galactic highways. They started here in the Mesozoic period and set the world up to be self sustaining then we came along.

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