Aliens Would Visit for Knowledge, Not Resources
Brett: I think Stephen Hawking said that it was a mistake to broadcast radio waves out into the universe because the aliens are going to be out there and they’re going to be like conquistadors. They’re going to want to take over our planet for their resources and various other things.
There’s a couple of responses you can have to the idea of evil aliens coming to get us.
The first is that the only way to make progress into the infinite future and to have the technologies that would enable you to traverse the galaxy, is to have this vision of knowledge that Popper had—namely, that you are freely able to explore the space of ideas, able to falsify assumptions, and don’t have centralized authorities and force being used on people, which dampens down creativity.
To have a maximally creative society, you have to have freedom, you have to have liberty, and therefore you will have a non-violent society. You’ll have a society that values creativity as an end in itself.
When we encounter the aliens, we shouldn’t expect that they’re going to be immoral bastards that are going to want to take over our resources, but the opposite: They’re going to look at us and think what primitive savages that we are. They’re going to think that we’re moral midgets, and they’re going to want to teach us. They’re not going to want to put us in prison or anything like that.
Knowledge is a unified whole. If their physics are so much better than ours—which enables them to approach the speed of light or to use some weird general relativity gravity thing that creates a wormhole, so they can get through space faster than the speed of light—all of their scientists are going to be so much farther ahead. All of their knowledge is going to be farther ahead: their mathematics, their morality, their political institutions.
So we don’t have to worry about the aliens.
And, by the way, we don’t have to worry about them stealing our resources. It’s not like they’re going to go, “Ah, there’s a planet full of coal and water. We’re going to take it.”
No, they’re going to have the knowledge to be able to sweep up the hydrogen in intergalactic space and turn that into a fusion reactor and use 3D printing to create any technology that they want.
In fact, that might be another answer to the Fermi paradox. They don’t need to leave their local area because they’ve already got the technology to perfectly sustain them.
Naval: They’ve got Dyson spheres and they can gather all the energy they need. They can gather all the matter, they can create anything they want, and they can have any reality in VR space that they want.
The only thing that they would be lacking is new knowledge that they don’t have.