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How Do You Greet an Extraterrestrial?

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the what-is-your-policy-on-death-rays dept.

Sci-Fi 803

The LA Times is running a story about Earth Speaks, a companion project to SETI, which focuses on how we would communicate with intelligent extraterrestrial life, should we happen to discover it. Far more effort has been devoted to searching for signals or a means to communicate than the question of what we might say once contact is established, and the folks at SETI have set up a website to gather opinions on what the best questions and statements are. "So far, the messages break down into a few distinct categories. Some people want to throw a block party to welcome the aliens to the neighborhood. Others, less trusting, would warn the aliens that we've got guns and know how to use them. Another group, possibly influenced by having seen too many movies, would have us hide under the bed until they go away. 'If we discover intelligent life beyond Earth, we should not reply — we should freeze and play dead,' wrote one contributor." What would you say first to an alien?

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I know (5, Funny)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241707)

got any new porn we haven't seen yet ???

Re:I know (3, Funny)

ductonius (705942) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241735)

If not, at least they would bring a new meaning to the "Miss Universe" contest.

Re:I know (1, Funny)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241807)

Ah... the ZZ Top approach....

Warning them that we've got legs, and we know how to use them!

Re:I know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242013)

Or do you have a sister and how much pizza comes with her.

Re:I know (4, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242041)

Would help reduce several potentially embarrassing faux paus(es?), for instance, "Which hole should I put it in?"

Re:I know (4, Informative)

auric_dude (610172) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242067)

The complete protocol was detailed way back in 1988 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097257/ [imdb.com] and it seemed to work then so I reckon it will work just as well today

Re:I know (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242083)

Getting an answer in japanese, priceless!

Re:I know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242115)

Nanu Nanu

Squids (4, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241719)

We can't even communicate in any meaningful way with squids, which are genetically far more closely related to us than any possible extraterestrials. What in the world makes us think that it would be any easier to communicate with extraterrestrials?

Re:Squids (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241809)

That assumption is that for communication, sharing intelligence is more important than sharing genetics.

Re:Squids (4, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241945)

That assumption is that for communication, sharing intelligence is more important than sharing genetics.

One thing that all these discussions presume is that we would be able to quickly reach a way to communicate. More likely it would take a decade. But misunderstandings like say a the chimp biting your hand making someone angry would occur many times before that.

On the otherhand if an aliaen did show up on our doorstep then it would be one of two cases:

1) it was the first visit
2) or it was the first open visit after many many other visits.

in the first case the ship that arrived would likely be both of a technology far beyiond our own and at the same time extremely fragile it being at the limits of it's tenuous exitence after a long space journey.

So it might have some nasty weapons but probably nothing we should really fear or that we could not destroy.

Basically the vistitor would be here as our guest and at our mercy.

in the second case, it would be the visitors setting the agenda,

Re:Squids (5, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242103)

Why assume that if they find us, they must have sci-fi movie technology? Isn't it more likely, that they'd find us through their equivalent of a SETI project, or perhaps by saying "Hey, that planet over there looks like it might have some water on it. Maybe there's life there."

In which case, we might find ourselves receiving a weak signal from them many years later, and perhaps an un-manned (un-aliened?) probe many years after that.

No matter who finds who, it's likely that it'll take many years just to let the other know they've been found. Distances measured in light-years suck like that.

Re:Squids (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242019)

In that case, why have we as a society still failed to find common ground with Dolphins?

Re:Squids (2, Funny)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242081)

Are you suggesting that the reason we can't communicate with squids is because scientists have been trying to make love to them all these years? Instead of sharing intelligence?

Or did I misread something? Because that's the most disgusting thing I've ever heard. :)

Re:Squids (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241825)

I don't think genetic kinship matters, instead it would hinge on the aliens' intelligence (more specifically, capacity for information processing). If the aliens are just at the level of fungus, it would be hard to discover them in the first place, moreover their existence wouldn't matter much anyways.

Re:Squids (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241969)

What if they turn out to be like niggers? Smart enough to communicate, but incapable of civilization. Maybe we'd better think twice before opening this can of worms....

Re:Squids (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241827)

We can't even communicate in any meaningful way with squids, which are genetically far more closely related to us than any possible extraterestrials. What in the world makes us think that it would be any easier to communicate with extraterrestrials?

Apparently you are unaware of Japanese tentacle porn. We've got that angle covered, thankyouverymuch.

Next.

Re:Squids (1)

fatmonkeyboy (257833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241839)

Squids can't broadcast and receive messages from outer space.

If we meet a race of beings that are capable of broadcasting messages over huge distances, maybe we'll have more in common with them than we do with squids.

Re:Squids (2, Interesting)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241891)

unless they are an insectoid race devoid of intelligence which has evolved radio and FTL senses to help it find food (us) and coordinate attacks.

Re:Squids (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241965)

I think that at a certain point "intelligent" (adaptable) species just learn and develop so fast that "dumb" (complex-instinct driven) species can't keep up.

If the insects of alien insect planet were bathed in radiation for a billion years and finally gained the ability to give birth to microwave telescopes for finding alien prey, the humans of Earth planet could spend 250 pretty normal years on a scientific revolution and end up with flight control computers and a rocket-based nuke delivery system for annihilating alien insect planet.

Re:Squids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242023)

kekeke

Re:Squids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241855)

Mathematics (especially Logic) and Physics, things that the aliens must have discovered to communicate with us, but the squids haven't yet?

Re:Squids (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241869)

It would indeed be difficult, and I suspect that the "communication" that would be possible would not really look much like the common use of the word. However, there are certain reasons for optimism:

Unless the laws of physics are a good deal weirder than we think, we already know a great deal about what math aliens would have to know to talk to us. We could also reasonably suspect some knowledge of physics, astronomy(adjusted for their location of course) and similar knowledge. It still would be far from easy; but if you are talking to somebody across interstellar space, you can make a decent number of assumptions about what they know, unlike the squid case.

I'm not expecting any heart-to-primary circulatory nodule chats with green babes, of course.

Re:Squids (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241979)

Even if we can't really communicate with them we can observe them. Lexical analysis alone would keep scientists busy for decades.

Re:Squids (2, Funny)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242063)

You bring up a good point. Monkeys and chimps share up to 90% of their DNA with humans, and yet the last time I tried to teach my capuchin sign language, I got beaned with a fecal fast-ball.

Yeah, I think it's that 10% responsible for our neocortex that's going to make a difference here...

Obviously the first question is... (5, Insightful)

ItsJustAPseudonym (1259172) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241721)

...do you actually have any green women in bikinis?

Re:Obviously the first question is... (2, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241781)

Or 3-boobed women![NSFW!] [dirtyrottenwhore.com]

Brbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbr!

Offer them a subscription? (3, Funny)

scsirob (246572) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241725)

We should definitely show them that we are rational, well behaved lifeforms, with broad interests and predictable interaction

For starters we can offer them a free subscription and RSS feed to /.

Oh wait...

Re:Offer them a subscription? (5, Insightful)

youn (1516637) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241789)

> We should definitely show them that we are rational, well behaved lifeforms, with broad interests and predictable interaction

You think we should lie to them, right off the bat?

Re:Offer them a subscription? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242075)

Except we're really not all that well behaved. If they're up there watching anything we're doing, don't you think they'd pay attention to things like war, or raping our planet?

The same way we greet niggers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241729)

With a rope and a pickup truck.

With Apologies to H.Y. (1)

mr_bubb (1171001) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241731)

"Take my wife, please!"

Re:With Apologies to H.Y. (1)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241749)

its not he same without a rimshot

childrens books (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241743)

just like young children are taught, they could be provided with material for understanding the english language and using it to communicate with us

as they would be more technologically advanced, it shouldnt take too long for their linguists to understand

otherwise, long lost languages like sanskrit which virtually operate on a flowchart could be used as well

Racism (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241745)

It's racism to assume they're not just like us.

Aliens are equal to us. They're just as nice as us. They are probably not coming here to take over and harvest us for our organs.

Repeat this 100 times daily. Don't be an interspecial racist.

Re:Racism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241919)

They're just as nice as us. They are probably not coming here to take over and harvest us for our organs.

You just contradicted yourself.

Welcome! (5, Funny)

devman (1163205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241753)

I, for one, would welcome our new alien overlords.

Re:Welcome! (4, Insightful)

TeamSPAM (166583) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241811)

This is probably one of the few threads where this meme is on topic. To put this in perspective we are probably the native american indians greeting the european explorers. And we know how well that turned out for them.

Re:Welcome! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241915)

To put this in perspective we are probably the native american indians greeting the european explorers. And we know how well that turned out for them.

Woo! We get to run the intergalactic casinos!

Re:Welcome! (1)

slarrg (931336) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241917)

And, WOW, aren't those beads shiny! Let me have them.

Re:Welcome! (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241843)

I would vote for Kodos.

Was this sponsored by ABC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241755)

"We should watch the new ABC series V for tips."

Our guns vs. theirs (4, Insightful)

oneirophrenos (1500619) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241757)

So we've got guns. I wonder how intimidated a civilization that has the technology to traverse light-years through space would be of our bullets and bombs. If they wished to annihilate us, I wager they'd be able to do it without even giving us a chance to react. If an alien race should contact Earth, I think our best bet would be to at least assume that they have peaceful intentions.

Or (1)

linumax (910946) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241975)

If an alien race should contact Earth, I think our best bet would be to at least assume that they have peaceful intentions.

Or they could just be assholes. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Our guns vs. theirs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242005)

If you can move a spaceship then lobbing a few asteroids in our direction would be easy.

Re:Our guns vs. theirs (2, Interesting)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242051)

>If they wished to annihilate us, I wager they'd be able to do it without even giving us a chance to react.

It would be trivial. ET is not a signatory on any of our international laws and treaties. They could concoct a biological weapon that doesnt require any more advanced science than we already know. They could bombard the planet with these weapons, kill only humans, and keep the planet for themselves. I think the hawks need to realize how delicate human life is and the weaponry to destroy all human life has been even in our hands for the last 50 years.

Re:Our guns vs. theirs (5, Insightful)

RsG (809189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242053)

So we've got guns. I wonder how intimidated a civilization that has the technology to traverse light-years through space would be of our bullets and bombs. If they wished to annihilate us, I wager they'd be able to do it without even giving us a chance to react. If an alien race should contact Earth, I think our best bet would be to at least assume that they have peaceful intentions.

^ What he said ^

Seriously, people. Whoever it was from TFA who suggested "we've got guns and know how to use them" as a response was clueless.

If an extraterrestrial species is remotely close to human beings technologically, then there is no way for them to reach us anymore than we can reach them. Interstellar space is a wonderfully effective buffer. If we're communicating with a neighbouring species via radio, with no chance of visitation, then we needn't worry about hostilities. Try to imagine fighting a war between North America and Australia without ships, missiles or aircraft. And that analogy vastly understates the distances involved.

If they can reach us, and we can't reach them, then threats or hostility is a non-starter. Any spacecraft capable of crossing the gulf between stars is very likely so far ahead of us that we'd be unable to scratch the finish. And any craft able to cross that distance at a significant fraction of the speed of light is, by definition, able to render this entire planet sterile by way of a RKV. Think muskets vs. nukes here.

Re:Our guns vs. theirs (1)

Quinapalus (1335067) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242071)

I agree.

The fact is that the US military today could annihilate any army on that was on the planet in World War I. A mere 90 years of technological innovation separates the two. I doubt only 90 years of technological innovation separates us from any aliens we would meet. Now imagine a few thousand years of technological innovation! We'd have about as much chance of fending of aliens as the Australian Aborigines had fending off the British.

Roll for initiative... (5, Funny)

The_Chicken_205 (723443) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241763)

Roll for initiative... :D

With a phone? (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241767)

they seem to be interested in phones... "ET Phone home"

Well, let's face it... (4, Funny)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241769)

...any alien that lands on planet Earth will likely be pale-skinned, dressed in strange clothing & only grunt monosyllabically at you having been sat in front of a console screen for the past 50 years - so just practice your alien communication skills on the average British teenager...

To serve aliens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241771)

It's a cookbook!

Your Papers Please... (4, Funny)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241773)

Please fill out these entry visa papers or we'll have to ask you to leave...

Knowing the internet... (1)

BertieBaggio (944287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241777)

If we're lucky, they'll ask someone from the internet who would say something like "O HAI ALIENZ".

If we're unlucky, they'll contact one of the YouTube comment posters.

Not Guilty! (1)

siloko (1133863) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241783)

err, dude, we were joking!

Nuke 'em from orbit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241785)

... it's the only way to be sure.

A notice of lawsuit. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241787)

Citing that evidence suggests that they have been monitoring earth broadcasts, and that their planet is not within the distribution zone of the earth's intellectual property, and that royalties must be paid immediately for the past 50-100 years of received carrier wave based entertainment that they have received free of cost.

Further, a gag order is hereby issued forbidding the aliens to discuss either this suit or the entertainment materials (hereto fore "content") with any other audience, known or unknown to the residents of earth, until after trial or settlement has been concluded,

Yadda yadda yadda

Give us all your money,

Signed, the MPAA and RIAA industries.

Re:A notice of lawsuit. (1)

gznork26 (1195943) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242027)

On the other hand, the first alien visitors we get could be some lawyers serving us with papers...

+ + +
"Yes sir, Mr. Nagle," I told the debriefing officer, "that's what they said when they handed us the papers."

The five of us had just returned from what was supposed to have been the first stage of a long-delayed Mars colonization project. Had everything gone as planned, we were to have stayed for five years, helping groups of volunteer colonists set up their habitats and showing them how to use all of the special equipment. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way.
+ + +

The story is called "Site License", and you can read the whole story here:
http://klurgsheld.wordpress.com/2007/06/05/site-license/ [wordpress.com]

P. Orin Zack

Obligatory qoute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241795)

All your base are belong to us?

TITS or GTFO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241801)

TITS or GTFO!

Nanu! Nanu! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241803)

Nanu! Nanu! is the way to go!

Read FootFall (4, Informative)

RichMan (8097) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241813)

Anyone thinking about how we greet aliens should realize several things
      a) anyone in orbit is in a very powerful position. Essentially the ultimate higher attack position.
      b) anyone arriving in orbit has very advanced technology
      c) kinetic energy

Read Footfall, it posits aliens with the barest of interstellar travel capabilities arriving
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Footfall [wikipedia.org]

Yo Mama (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241815)

Yo Mama's so fat, she's the reason Pluto was reclassified a dwarf planet.

Freeze and play dead? (5, Insightful)

johannesg (664142) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241821)

Freeze and play dead? Someone really should have thought of that _before_ we started broadcasting radio and TV and a planet-wide basis. Those waves really don't stop when they hit the outer atmosphere you know... By now we should be fairly well-known in our galactic neighbourhood.

As for talking about our guns, whoever shows up here has already demonstrated massively superior technology to ours (we are not showing up on _their_ doorstep are we?) so antagonizing them might not be such a great idea either.

So yeah, by all means let's throw a party and hope it isn't us that ends up on the barbecue...

Re:Freeze and play dead? (1)

UncleWilly (1128141) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241999)

I am fairly certain I read someplace that the big-science-brains determined that earth's radio & TV signals get lost in background "space static" pretty close to our solar system (1-2 light years?)

To answer the original question, "Should we reply, and if so, what should we say?" First off, let's assume the aliens are really close, say 50 light years away. It would probably take 100-200 years to dialog with anything more than math. By then we would have learned so much more (about the aliens, and things in general) as to make our dialog obvious.

Having said that, we should mention the tax breaks we can offer them for relocating a space hub to Mars.

Re:Freeze and play dead? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242055)

As for talking about our guns, whoever shows up here has already demonstrated massively superior technology to ours (we are not showing up on _their_ doorstep are we?) so antagonizing them might not be such a great idea either.

I don't think that's a given. The only two things we're lacking in order to make a slow-boat colonization ship to another planet is:
1) Hibernation technology
2) The economic dedication required to do so

You can easily imagine an alien race within about 10-50 light years having both of these things available to them, and coming to earth. It's quite possible they'd come here and be utterly flabbergasted at cellphones and the Internet. I've been toying with a science fiction story based around that idea, but I'm not that great a writer.

Bonus: because of the travel time, at the time they began the trip, they probably wouldn't have been able to observe any evidence of technological civilization on the planet, so they'd be expecting to land somewhere uninhabited.

Wrong question (1)

kylemonger (686302) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241823)

The question presupposes that talking is the correct response. If intelligent aliens visit us here in our solar system we can reasonably expect to be enslaved or slaughtered. Interstellar space travel is a stupendously expensive undertaking, and anyone attempting it will expect a return on their investment at the end. And if you believe in Vinge's technological singularity, the visitor will no doubt be from a post-singularity culture. In that case your chances of being simply engulfed courtesy of that culture's hard-takeoff are close to 100%.

So, forget talk. Running or fighting are your choices.

Take off and nuke the site from orbit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241835)

Um, I mean, freeze and play dead.

There is no way to be "Silent"... (2, Insightful)

NukeDoggie (943265) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241851)

They would be advanced enough to hear us like we hear them... We emit lots of noise without trying. We would have to face them head on and with as little fear as we can, which means each nation would try to oneup each other in favor, and then war would ensue...

Find out what their motives for being here are (2, Funny)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241853)

I'd ask them if their political views are left or right wing.

What would you say first to an alien? (1)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241861)

"I can haz cheeseburger?"

Don't play dead (5, Interesting)

Pinckney (1098477) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241863)

If we are actually noticed, the problem with the "freeze and play dead" suggestion is that it if it works, we risk convincing them that we are mostly harmless, unintelligent creatures. Earth then begins to look like a habitable, unoccupied planet ripe for colonizing.

While a display of martial might would serve to make the earth look less available, it also risks making us appear savage and again, unintelligent. It might make them feel justified in subjugating us and colonizing earth.

Safest is probably a policy of partial isolation. We should greet others firmly, while revealing little of our own cultures and history. Be respectful, and allow visitors to see a strictly controlled show. Given time, this can be relaxed. If they do seem interested in colonization, prepare for war. Demand commitments to peace and respect for our territory that, if broken deliberately, will give us moral high-ground in counterattacking. But if this should occur, act quickly to establish laws of war--display an aura of civility and discipline. Conversely, if they are interested in an exchange of knowledge, be open and willing--say nothing of atrocities and wars, and let the borders be opened slowly. Control their perception of us, so that we may appear to be a mixture of cultures that they could ally themselves with, rather than merely subjugate.

Re:Don't play dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241929)

nuke em from orbit, thats the only way to be sure... oh wait that would be us presumably...

Typical Slashdot Reader Responses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241867)

"But does your advanced Zarnax-12 computational system run Linux?"

"Wow, Zarnax-12 computers! Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these!"

"Okay, I've successfully installed Ubuntu Linux on the Zarnax-12, but I still can't get dual-monitor support, and it's not recognizing the alien T'Ralfaz sound card."

Obligatory Movie Quote (1,000 quatloos to the first person who recognizes this)

"...if they're more advanced than us, they should be nearer to the Creator..."

I would say... (1)

PhysicsPhil (880677) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241873)

Does your spaceship run on vacuum tubes?

stupid thought experiment (3, Interesting)

heptapod (243146) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241895)

Eight forms of human language remain uncracked by modern linguists [newscientist.com] . Surely trying to speak Ventaxian and understand their communication will be nigh impossible. Heck I don't think their characters have been encoded into unicode.
Let alone knowing how their transmissions are encoded or even if they have a concept of DRM. If we don't know their codecs then those broadcasts will simply fall into the cosmic background radiation and remain lost to us until these aliens do something as gross as landing on the White House lawn and actually share their technology via their universal translator.
Who's to say they're even going to be interested in humanity at all. They may decide that ants have a far older and more interesting worldwide civilization which fits their xenothropic principle rather than appealing to our hubris that nigh-hairless primates are the pinnacle of culture and society upon this ball of mud.
On the bright side this guy says it'd be easy to figure out the grammar of a living alien language [telegraph.co.uk] but there's still the problem of idiom which would only serve the muddy the waters of communication and possibly precipitate conflict.

..Spam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241899)

..How do THEY handle spam?

Fellas, you must've missed a turn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241903)

That big rocky planet three-quarters covered with liquid water and filled with luscious plant and animal life? Yeah, our astronomers spotted that one too... it's waaaaaay over there thousands of galaxies away.

What about UFO's? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241907)

Should another civilization have the tech to be able to traverse space then what if they are watching us? Us humans like to think we have dominion over wildlife and we keep the exotic ones in threat of extinction in zoos. Well knowing how violent humans can be, what about us? Perhaps a higher intelligence already saw us and how we react towards ourselves and the environment. Perhaps they refuse to contact us due to this? Earth could be our "zoo" for all we know. Given that humans are prone towards self-destruction, what if we were labeled as a endangered species or an unknown tangent. Granted guns and bombs won't do much but don't forget the STOCKPILES of nuclear weapons powered by the very mechanics behind the sun itself. We could easily destroy our world with our current tech (and in some ways we already are).

First... (1, Insightful)

shellster_dude (1261444) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241927)

We would need to find intelligent life on this planet before we can find it anywhere else!

I've seen this in the movies... (1)

Phantom784 (973144) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241937)

They'll either already speak English for no good reason, or there will be an easily available universal translator to help out. Problem solved!!!

Communicate through imagery... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241939)

Simply show them LOLCATS and they will instantly become aware of the stupidity that is inherent to our species. They won't even bother enslaving us all.

I can see it now (4, Funny)

glwtta (532858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241947)

DAVIS: We are a benign species, opposed to interplanetary conflict, and believe in equal opportunity for all beings, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation or planet of origin
STAN: That's nice. Look, let me start over, OK? I want you to tell me what the people on your planet are gonna do to make Stanley H Tweedle a happier man
DAVIS: Is this right?
PRINCE: Stick to the cards, Mr President. All possibilities have been anticipated. Do not deviate from the cards
DAVIS: Congratulations on your birthday!

No one seems to have mentioned this....... (5, Interesting)

allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241977)

What if they were to arrive in our solar system and not care about us? I mean, what if they didn't care about lifeforms? It's a huge assumption that they are looking for others like them. That's a drive that seems to be uniquely human. As far as I know, no animal on earth goes around comparing surrounding species to themselves. I use the earth animal example because we have no other species to compare in the vicinity of our solar system. But back to the point, What if they arrive and simply ignore us?

Re:No one seems to have mentioned this....... (2, Interesting)

itamihn (1213328) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242057)

I assume _any_ intelligent lifeform, given enough time, will eventually either be curious enough to study us, or will want to fight for having a house in the beach.

Papers, please (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241989)

If they don't have valid passports, there's no way in hell they'll get into the US, unless they sneak in. Plus, wouldn't they have to send a passenger manifest first before they would be allowed to land?

Solved by NASA ages ago (4, Funny)

CaptainOfSpray (1229754) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241995)

Didn't any of you know? You say, "Gnorts, Mr Alien". Back in the 60's, NASA realised that the Apollo might encounter aliens on the Moon, so they named the leader of the expedition appropriately (in an anagram, to demonstrate our intelligence and puzzle-setting ability).

No pre-determined message (3, Interesting)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242001)

I propose a dynamic approach: learn as much as possible about them first. We may decide it would be disasterous to attempt contact, and that "playing dead" is the way to go. In any case we might discover that one approach will be better received than another; first impressions may make or break the situation.
All that being said, I don't think the human race is anywhere near the point where we SHOULD make contact with an extraterrestrial civilization AT ALL. We're still just slightly smarter animals at heart, once you strip away the thin veneer of technology and what we laughingly call "civilization". We can't even get along with OURSELVES and our own differences let alone a race that didn't evolve here. We're bigoted, racist, and sexist: We can't decide, AS A RACE, whether we owe our existence to one supernatural being or another, or did we evolve? We make war on our neighbors over resources and things that matter even less than that. We treat people differently, sometimes even ATTACKING them, because their skin is a different color. We treat our females as second-class citizens. Furthermore we mistreat and mismanage the biosphere we live in, poisoning it with our industrial wastes, destroying parts of it out of ignorance or greed, or because it suits us to do so, and damn the consequences.
Never mind US contacting THEM! I say that if they're out there, they're AVOIDING and IGNORING us, because we're not worth knowing yet! Can't blame them if that's the case.
Oh, and go ahead and mod me down to "-1, Troll"; I'll understand because there is no "-1, Uncomfortable Truth" button to use.

Playing dead is not an option (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242007)

With all the incredible junk we have pumped out via radio waves, playing dead would be a certain way to send the wrong message. On the other side, it might be a good idea to keep all those currently in power and those wanting to be away from the microphone...

Hoovercraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242025)

My hoovercraft is full of eels

Math. (4, Interesting)

solios (53048) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242033)

It'll be the one thing we have in common, no matter what. However they conceptualize it, unless our first contact is some kind of space manatee that communicates in radio waves, whatever we make contact with will have to have developed transmission/reception capability. Language would be a big puzzle to crack, and probably a really frustrating one... but 2+2=4 everywhere you go.

if they are Vogon (1)

knappe duivel (914316) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242043)

If they are Vogon, ask them to read some poetry (and pretend to like it)

Anonymous Coward. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242045)

first thing i would say to an alien would be.....hello, my name is .........lmao

How much for a ticket for a galatic guide tour? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242077)

Or whats the number for the local galactic travel agent?

Atomic Rockets (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242079)

Imagine yourself taking a stroll through Manhattan, somewhere north of 68th street, deep inside Central Park, late at night. It would be nice to meet someone friendly, but you know that the park is dangerous at night. That's when the monsters come out. There's always a strong undercurrent of drug dealings, muggings, and occasional homicides.

It is not easy to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. They dress alike, and the weapons are concealed. The only difference is intent, and you can't read minds.

Stay in the dark long enough and you may hear an occasional distance shriek or blunder across a body.

How do you survive the night? The last thing you want to do is shout, "I'm here!" The next to last thing you want to do is reply to someone who shouts, "I'm a friend!"

What you would like to do is find a policeman, or get out of the park. But you don't want to make noise or move towards a light where you might be spotted, and it is difficult to find either a policeman or your way out without making yourself known. Your safest option is to hunker down and wait for daylight, then safely walk out.

There are, of course, a few obvious differences between Central Park and the universe.

There is no policeman.

There is no way out.

And the night never ends.

This is all very optimistic (2, Insightful)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242085)

What makes them think aliens even have anything in common with us? Read some Stanislav Lem for how that might not be true in the slightest.

Duh! (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242089)

Take me to your leader!

Obligatory Transformers reference (4, Funny)

Gax (196168) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242097)

ba weep gra na weep nini bon

Take us to your leader (1)

savi (142689) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242109)

I think the best thing would be to ask to be put in touch with whatever governmental body oversees our party of the galaxy and (hopefully) will protect our rights. If there are no rights, then we're screwed either way because anyone that can travel to us will completely out-class. On the other hand, if we can reach the Shadow Proclamatino of Judoon (or the equivalent) we may be granted some form of protection. Hopefully, this protection will take the form of David Tennant.

Humans (4, Funny)

stox (131684) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242113)

A convenient snack on those long journeys across the galaxy.

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