Thursday, November 29, 2018

How we treat each possible scenario upon First Contact

Officer A1ON5678's Personal Log:

So much work is going on right now. With two more ships commissioned and ready to go into service. The industrial base coming on line and understanding the flora and fauna of space has been exhilarating. Our crews continually run combat drills and defensive perimeters are in the review stages.

It is conceivable that we could discover aliens with the over 20,000 scans running in from both of our stations and the constant exploring and patrol missions we are conducting. We scour the cosmos looking for radio signals, and though we're capable of interstellar space travel, it is remotely possible that we could find what we're looking for. With our Faster Than Light drives, we can warp or jump across the cosmos.

Back in 2018, when NASA landed InSight on Mars. Where life could theoretically exist on Mars, or on Europa, a moon of Jupiter, which appears to have an underground ocean. It's even possible (though highly unlikely) that these nearby life forms could be sentient. It is consistent with current human exploration of the solar system that intelligent beings could have evolved in the deep oceans of Europa.

I am both afraid and curious at the same time. An instiatible human condition that makes us want to keep exploring and wanting to learn about everything. Yet, it comes with risks for both myself and the rest of the human race. Not only with our lives but our entire existence into the future.

Another possibility is that, intelligent extraterrestrial beings have traveled from a distant star system and taken up residence in our solar system. They might be living in an underground base on Mars or the moon, or they could be residing in the asteroid belt (or any number of other plausible, albeit unlikely, options). A monolith could be residing right on our own moon, emitting magnetic pulses. 

Considering these scenarios, what would we do if we encountered an alien race? As it turns out, the question has garnered considerable academic thought, this is not just as an inquiry in human psychology, but also as a way of contemplating what aliens might do if they ever found us. From astronomers to ufologists to anthropologists, scholars who have contemplated the various "contact scenarios" believe our course of action would strongly depend on the relative intelligence level of the newfound beings. 

As we move into the outer Solar System and beyond, the possibility exists that we may encounter an extraterrestrial species engaged in similar exploration. How we approach first contact has been a theme of science fiction for many years in the past. The treatment of how we do that is clearly defined in our training under "First Contact" protocol.

How we use our first contact protocols to handle these precarious situations. A Major General in the US Air Force (now retired) with combat experience in several earth wars, Ken brings a perspective seasoned by command and a deep knowledge of military history to issues of confrontation and outcomes, building on our current rules of engagement to ask how we will manage an encounter with another civilization, one whose consequences would be momentous for our species. But that is based on our earth only experiences. 

Consider this scenario as we are exploring. How do two ships approach each other in a first contact setting? When it happens it will be a pivotal moment for human history. The slightest mistake or misperceived intention could cascade into violence. Therefore even future deep space robotic probes, let alone a true interstellar ship whether crewed by humans or AI, should incorporate courses of action for this possibility.

The development of first contact protocols is obviously rife with unknowns since we only have a one-planet historical data set build on; nevertheless we must proceed. The bulk of the thinking on first contact so far has focused on a remote contact via electromagnetic signal exchange (SETI) or finding non-sentient microbiota (aka Apollo post-mission quarantine), but what if we stumble upon another intelligence in space? Admittedly, this may not be the most likely course of action, but as we start to move deeper into space it is an increasing possibility. Through centuries of trial and error, protocols have been developed for military ship and aircraft encounters on Earth. These earth protocols provide as good a basis as we have for building extraterrestrial first contact protocols.

The treatment of each possible scenario must by considered carefully and thoughtfully. The three fundamental principals we operate by are a) be predictable, b) avoid any appearance of hostile intent and c) attempt communication.

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