First Contact and ETIs

In cinematography the First Contact with an Extraterrestrial Intelligence (ETI) is often represented in two ways.

On the one hand, we have violent invasions. In this case “bad aliens” attack planet Earth to plunder raw materials.

In movies such as “Independence Day” (R. Emmerich 1966 and 2016) and “Oblivion” (J. Kosinski 2013) alien entities come on Earth to plunder raw materials.

On the other hand, we find “wise aliens” that smoothly conduct the so-called First Contact apparently without a substantial reason, sometime just to meet mankind.

In movies such as “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (S.Spielberg 1977) and “Contact” (R.Zemeckis 1977) aliens perform the “First Contact” just to establish a peaceful encounter.

The first scenario seems to be very questionable, mainly for two reasons.

Firstly, raw materials, especially those needed to sustain life forms, appear to be widespread in the cosmos such as water (in the form of ice) and carbon. So should be excluded a course of action like that adopted by Europeans when arrived on America in the 15th century.

Water is very common on the universe. It is present on a variety of celestial bodies, from comets to moons. For example just on Europa, moon of Jupiter, scientists estimate the presence of much more water than on Earth. (Image credit: Discovery Magazine).

Secondly, technologies needed to design and build huge mother spaceships, like those seen in movies such as “Independence Day” or “Arrival” (the last one of the sequence), and capable of making the Interstellar Travel, require the joint effort  of a cohesive planetary society. I refer to a society that has eliminated social divisions, where individuals do not crave power and luxury, and civilization has outweighed the risk of self-destruction.

The topic is very complex and encompasses various scientific disciplines from Physics to Sociology, through Biology and Psycology and many others.

Anyway, even in the second scenario emerge some matters.


The main issue is: why technologically advanced civilizations able to perform the Interstellar Travel, should reveal themselves at primitive civilizations like ours? instead of begin relationships with civilizations similar to them?

Actually, the technological and cognitive gap with ETIs could provide a possible solution to the famous Fermi Paradox or to the so-called “Great Silence”.

Therefore, we have reason to believe reasonable that, even if, according to the current values associated to the factors of the Drake Equation, the universe is statistically populated by a number of ETIs much of which more highly developed, for many years to come, if not centuries, we will not see mother spaceships flying in our skies.

In fact considering that the dominant civilization on Earth is still intent on conducting fratricidal wars and on pollute vastly the home-planet, would be very strange to consider compelling to begin here some “cultural” relations.

Finally, the hypothesis of “good aliens” that roam the universe in rescuing of civilizations on the brink of self-destruction, as it happens in the movie “Arrival”, is not much convincing. Travel in space is very expensive…

“Arrival” (D. Villeneuve 2016). Alien entities help mankind to overcome divisions and to establish a planetary community.

Nowadays we recognize that the universe is filled with galaxies each containing billions of stars; almost every star is structured as a planetary system. Thanks to the discoveries of space telescopes we have clear evidences that planets in the habitable zone are common. The majority of planetary systems are older than ours, so is plausible to assume that if life is widespread in the universe ETIs are more advanced than us on astronomical scale (that means millions of years).

Therefore the question is: what kind of advanced technology own ETIs?

If ETIs have the technology of the Interstellar Travel and are able to move an entire civilization on board of colossal mother spaceships, it is obvious that they can defend themselves from any kind of weapon in our possession, so in case of confrontation humanity would have no chance to survive.

John Gertz, in the paper “Post-Detection SETI Protocols & METI: The Time Has Come To Regulate Them Both – published on 2017” suggested that the entire military power of the Roman Empire, capable to dominate the all known world for about 1000 years, should have been annihilated in an instant by few units of a modern army. This supremacy would derive from the technological development of few centuries, which on astronomical scale is an insignificant fraction of time.

However, even if a primitive species such as ours has understood the need to avoid contaminating other worlds, in fact our space probes are carefully sterilized before launch in order to not bringing terrestrial microbes in space, definitely should be an attitude adopted by the most advanced civilizations.

In conclusion, if one day aliens will arrive on Earth in all probability it will be a peaceful experience, at least we hope!

Key words: First ContactPrime Directive – Extraterrestrial Civilizations – Fermi ParadoxArrivalInterstellar TravelSETIMETIETI.

For further insights, the topic is presented in the book: Extraterrestrial Civilizations and The First Directive – A possible solution to the Fermi Paradox.


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