A team of scientists from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland wants to come up with a plan for what to do if humans encounter aliens.
With the help of experts from all over the world, they want to draw up reliable protocols and treaties, as well as evaluate any evidence of the existence of intelligent civilizations.
Their preparatory work will take place at the university’s new Research Center for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).
No life outside of Earth has ever been discovered; there is no evidence that alien life has ever visited Earth. However, this does not mean that the Universe is lifeless, except on Earth, according to NASA.
The space agency says: “Although no clear signs of life have been found, the possibility of extraterrestrial biology – the scientific logic that supports it – is becoming increasingly plausible.”
One popular view is that our own existence is evidence that there is definitely life on other planets, since the probability that the Earth is a “single specimen” is almost zero.
However, one argument against this is: if there is extraterrestrial life, why haven’t we found any evidence of it?
Now, scientists have decided to prepare for a possible meeting and more fully study all aspects of this issue. They explained that it is necessary not only to coordinate expertise to assess the evidence, but also to consider what the social reaction of people might be.
The group believes that limited attention is being paid to the implications for society if alien intelligence is discovered. While the United Nations has processes and organizations set up to deal with the asteroid impact threat, there is nothing similar for extraterrestrial life.
In June, NASA announced the start of its first-ever study of unidentified aerial phenomena, commonly known as UFOs. They establish which observations are natural and which do not merit further study.
As for social interest, scientists note that it has grown significantly in recent years. The reason for this is both the discovery of thousands of planets around distant stars in our own galaxy, as well as potential signs of life on planets as close to us as Mars and Venus.
“The potential discovery of microbial life is likely to cause various kinds of anxiety that will follow the discovery of intelligent life – we as a species are completely unprepared for the latter,” the scientists explained.
Scientists will manage the entire process of finding evidence, confirming findings, analyzing them and interpreting language patterns, and managing potential responses. Scientists from the field of natural sciences and humanities will be involved in the work.
They will also coordinate with policy experts on message decryption, data analysis, space law, rulemaking and social impact strategies to help close the policy gap.
“Will we ever get a message from an extraterrestrial civilization? We do not know. We also don’t know when that will happen. But we know that we cannot afford to be ill-prepared—scientifically, socially and politically—for an event that could become a reality tomorrow and that we cannot afford to mismanage,” they explained.