After reading this piece about first contact today, I thought how arrogant we are to assume aliens will contact us. Not for the usual reasons. Here’s a thought: What if alien life is very much unlike us. Not twice as big or ten times as smart, but of a completely different kind? And I don’t mean silicon instead of carbon. What I mean is this: Life on earth started with single celled organisms. But soon those “discovered” that by giving up their individuality and becoming part of a bigger whole, that bigger whole would far surpass anything a single cell could ever dream of.
We are the result of this move. Thanks to billions of cells working together, most of them specialized so much they could never survive on their own, we can move, eat, speak and think.
Now look into a crowded subway train. Don’t you feel a little like you are looking at a collection cells, all part of a bigger whole that surpasses them, giving up a part of their individuality, most of them so specialized that in the wild they would soon die? But as a corporation, or as a nation, we build airplanes and rockets.
What if there is a necessary step in evolution before a species becomes space-faring that requires the individuals to disappear, not just metaphorically? Humans life decades compares to hours or days of single-celled organisms. A species not evolved from, but consisting of humans in a similar way would not mind that a trip through space can take a century. It would “think” at the speed of, say, cultural changes. It would perceive time at the speed of history.
An alien species of such a kind would not seek contact with humans any more than we would seek contact with microbes if we find them on Mars. Such an alien species would study us as a curiosity, but not consider us intelligent life by its standards. It might look at the UN as a kind of amoeba. It might decide to check back in a hundred thousand years because our little planet just might spawn some intelligent life.