The famed Science Fiction writer Arthur C Clarke once said, “Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” This timeless and alarming realisation gives pause to anyone who spends a moment thinking about it. Looking at how far our race has progressed in such a small time, now that communities all over the globe are collected in a net of information sharing, it is surprising that even years after the speculative Space Odysseys, Judgment Days and Blade Runners, we still know so little about our cosmic neighbours. Obviously, any conspiracy theorist will tell you that ‘they’ know everything and that ‘they’ are covering it up for their own selfish reasons, but even so, objectively, what is the best outcome?
We Are Alone – Pro’s
So, let’s say the stars are our playground, there are no limitations to where we can go and what we can do, fantastic. All the years of Sci-Fi telling us we will be invaded by hostiles was just nonsense, we are the nomads of the universe. In this scenario, we no longer have to fear the green man and can deconstruct any equipment and recycle any resources we have wasted trying to contact him. Our goal to colonise new planets for our inhabitants will not be interrupted by natives wanting to hold their ground and will allow us to spread in great number across the stars.
We Are Alone – Con’s
There is no one coming to save us. Our choices, good or bad, are now finite, and if our current effect on the climate is anything to go by, we may not be heading in a great direction. Unlike how we have ways to preserve endangered species, both in the wild and under supervision, if we are alone, there are no alien caretakers to give us a positive nudge in case we get things slightly or catastrophically wrong. Also, it leaves us
lonely and staring inwards, which we aren’t very happy about, or really that good at.
We Are Not Alone – Pro’s
Another race enters the game, now we can trade our resources, planetary specific exotics and, of course, knowledge. It’s likely that if they get in touch, they will be more advanced (since, on a galactic scale, we haven’t invented the cup and string communicator yet), which means we can gleam some great knowledge from them about space travel, disease and possibly even our origins. We gain profoundly interesting new friends and are instilled with a sense of self as Earthlings inevitably unite like never before.
We Are Not Alone – Con’s
They want our heat, they eat human meat and they want our planet for a holiday retreat. The others are hostile, and we are forced into a war where we do not know our enemy. Our fragile relationships with each other make for sloppy teamwork as we fail to fight our attackers efficiently. Our dream of expansion to other planets is stopped dead as each new territory has its own race, each with their own allegiance. We are essentially trapped on our planet, now even more fragile thanks to extra terrestrial bombardment. We are open to attack from all angles; our only hope at peace is to negotiate a level of diplomacy with these cryptic creatures far better at communicating and cooperation than we were capable of amongst ourselves.