(ORDO NEWS) — In this first episode of Our Space Neighbors, Avi Loeb talks about the challenges that may arise in the future when trying to communicate with aliens.
Recently, I was invited to participate in an interdisciplinary discussion with linguists and philosophers, coordinated by the Inter-Faculty Mind-Brain-Behavior Initiative at Harvard University. The conversation will be devoted to the problem of communication with aliens, as shown in the movie “Arrival”.
Wars constantly breaking out on our planet show how difficult it is for earthlings to communicate with each other, even if they have one planet and communication devices. Incomplete information about the intentions of the opposing party leads to suspicion.
And a one-sided desire for dominance, fueled by a sense of superiority, can lead to confrontation. This dynamic is not only prevalent in international relations, but also in academia, business, and personal life.
And it can manifest itself even in a virtual environment such as the Metaverse, where the task of translating experience between human languages and cultures will be solved by advanced artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms.
But the meeting with an extraterrestrial culture can be indirect. It can be assumed that a billion years ago, aliens on a distant exoplanet around another star decided to advertise their existence or thoughts by distributing leaflets throughout the Milky Way galaxy.
Like letters in the postal service or messages in bottles floating in the ocean, physical objects traveling through space have the advantage of a means of communication that can last for billions of years, longer than the lifetime of their parent stars.
The rate of escape from the Milky Way is tenths of a percent of the speed of light, which is about ten times faster than the chemical propulsion we have used in spacecraft so far. At such a speed, less than the characteristic speeds of stars, the cosmic leaves would be tied by gravity to the Milky Way.
And, moving through our galaxy for billions of years, they may be discovered long after their senders have disappeared. On the other hand, electromagnetic signals travel at the speed of light and leave the galaxy in a single pass lasting only tens of thousands of years – just a few millionths of the age of the Milky Way
And even during this limited time, they can be detected – with a delay that takes into account the time of their passage, only for the time of their transmission.
Interestingly, the first interstellar object, Oumuamua, was presumed to be a flat, thin object based on the change in reflected sunlight from it while tumbling, as well as the excess repulsion from the Sun that it exhibited without a cometary tail.
Perhaps Oumuamua does not look like the famous comets or asteroids, because it was a thin sheet from a past civilization.
A more advanced form of indirect ET encounter involves an AI system that is intelligent enough to act autonomously based on the blueprint of its manufacturers.
As AI algorithms will be able to solve communication problems between human cultures in the Multiverse, the same could happen in the real Universe. In this case, we will be able to comfortably communicate with a fairly advanced form of astronaut AI, since they will know how to translate the content they want to convey into our language.
Our civilization constantly demonstrates the low quality of human interactions, which constantly lead to destruction, not cooperation.
It remains to be hoped that the encounter with extraterrestrial AI will be an instructive moment for humanity and lead to a more prosperous future for all of us.
After all, natural selection is based on “survival of the fittest”. Those who survive the longest had to be able to understand those around them. Otherwise, they could face the risk of losses in conflicts when one last blow would put an end to their existence.
The key to longevity is pursuing your goals without risking your existence. And there is no better tool for the final task than exceptional communication skills.
Our language is limited by our imagination. Therefore, it is important to remain open to a reality we never imagined as a means of enriching our vocabulary.
The cave dwellers would have a hard time conveying the new experience they encountered when they first visited modern New York, in part because the gadgets they will see have never been experienced in their natural habitat.
But after interacting with these gadgets for a while, they might accept them, like the rest of us – as useful items with new qualities.
This adaptation will be reminiscent of how humans interacted with each other long before modern medicine explained how their internal organs worked. In the same way, we can use the display of a mobile phone without knowing how this gadget works.
Good communication skills on either side are only possible with a good understanding of those on the other side. They are an oil that minimizes friction with the rugged terrain of reality. Understanding the components that make up reality outside of ourselves is the key to our survival.
After all, dinosaurs didn’t study the sky with telescopes. As a result, when the Chicxulub meteorite fell to earth, its message, unfortunately, was one-sided.
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