Humanity should start thinking about how to interact with alien species long before coming into contact with extraterrestrial life, experts say. Coming up with a strict set of guidelines that govern the way people on future interstellar space missions study and interact with aliens is imperative before anyone blasts off to a distant world, according to attendees at Starship Congress in August. "In the event that we discover evidence of intelligent life on another world, that will be a social, cultural and technologically influential event to human affairs which will need to be managed with great care and to ensure our culture and their culture remains intact and not disrupted by this new knowledge," said Kelvin Long, the founder of Project Icarus.
People traveling to distant stars will be carrying tangible and intangible aspects of human culture with them, so it should be curated responsibly before being sent to an alien planet, one expert said. It's possible that humans in the future will have no desire to land on exoplanets after free-roaming in space for years at a time, Icarus Interstellar president Richard Obousy said. "I'm not convinced that when we have the capabilities to build starships … that we'll want to go from one gravitational abyss to another gravitational abyss," Obousy said. "I'm not convinced that settling on planets or even moons is going to be necessary." When developing a strategy for first contact, it might also be important to think about the mental and physical well-being of the aliens with whom humans could come into contact.
Finding out that a more advanced civilization exists somewhere in the universe could be as jarring for humans around the globe as it was for native peoples when the conquistadors came to North America for the first time.
Kemo D. 7Art by Michael Böhme