Thursday, August 27, 2009

After seeing District 9

One thing I've been thinking about lately is something I read through some links I followed from Michael Shermer's site (if I remember correctly). A skeptic of so-called "UFOlogy" made a case for why we may never witness alien life come to our planet, that I found very interesting to ponder. He pointed out the amazing technology required to travel through space and interact with life in other planets--other galaxies even--and made the case that if the technology of their space programs could be so advanced, they must also have incredibly advanced consumer and household electronics as well. And if they have such technologies, wouldn't they be zombified the way we humans are by our television sets and broadband internet access? Interesting hypothesis.

Some problems I found with this theory:
  • Human laziness is a result of our evolution, an evolution that presumably took a different path than our alien counterparts, and therefore would suggest they might not share our foibles
  • Prosperity, such as leisure and consumer electronics, are the result of liberty and self-driven entrepreneurship. We see with humans that when a totalitarian regime comes to power, the people cease to have leisure time, toys and the opportunity to be entrepreneurial, instead becoming means to their masters' ends. We take it for granted that alien visitors, because of their evolved intelligence, would therefore be interested in what we consider to be higher pursuits than war, power and conquest, but it seems to me that the most likely alien civilization to reach us would be that of beings subjected to the whims of a self-indulgent authoritarian.
  • If the opposite is true, than the advances in technology must then be brought about not by force, but rather by entrepreneurial activity. This means a relatively free market--at least as free as modern western society. If this is the case, I think that there is a vast overstatement of the ignorance of our modern society. We still have enough freedom that people are driven away from their TV sets and computer screens, even if a large segment of the population cannot resist. These would be the individuals that would bring about technological advances and be adventurous enough to travel to Earth.
I've probably overlooked many theoretical concepts here and certainly excluded many theories both in favour and in opposition to the thinker whose idea I am addressing here. But I just wanted to get a stream-of-thought thinking exercise off my chest, not solve the riddle of interstellar relations.

Oh yeah, and after seeing District 9 and enjoying the movie, I did have some problems with it....Namely, that these creatures created cybernetic-style technology for their weapons and spacecraft, and they had the remote transmission system that the little alien used to get the ship moving over district 9, not to mention the technology of the actual transportation and weaponry themselves. And yet, they were communicating with regular speech--regular given their biology, that is. If they have the technology to mutate the main character into an alien, and the technology to fix him, as the alien insisted he could, along with the cybernetic biologically-integrated technology, why weren't they all fitted with nano-communication devices and cybernetic telekinesis and cool shit like that? I was just recently watching an episode of NOVAscienceNOW that was discussing how close we are to recreating eardrums and other body parts and the prospects of nanotech and cybernetics giving us technological telekinetic abilities in a future not-too-distant.

But I guess I will just take the positives from the movie, be glad I saw it and watch NOVA for the futuristic technology....

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