Stephen Hawking is a pretty smart guy, so when he starts musing about humanity’s place in the universe, it’s a pretty good idea to listen. Turns out, he worries humanity might be woefully unprepared when our future alien overlords arrive.
While speaking in the new documentary Stephen Hawking's Favorite Places, the brilliant astrophysicist dipped back into his thoughts on how a potential alien encounter might work out if extraterrestrials ever decide to pop by and say hello. Put simply: Hawking worries that any aliens capable of interstellar travel to come visit Earth will almost certainly view us as a second-class species. Which doesn’t bode well for us.
Here’s an excerpt from his comments via Space:
"One day, we might receive a signal from a planet like this," Hawking said in reference to Gliese 832c, a potentially habitable planet. "But we should be wary of answering back. Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didn't turn out so well.”
Which, yeah, Hawking makes some pretty good points. This has been a long-held fear among thinkers, and it makes sense — if aliens wanted to come take our resources, who’s to say they would actually view us as equals? If they’re advanced enough to get here, there’s a solid chance they wouldn’t view us much differently than we view an anthill.
Which, for those worried about our future alien overlords, you can take comfort(?) in the fact that they probably already know we’re here. Humanity has been blasting radio waves into the wild black yonder for more than a century. So if they were that advanced, they probably already have us on the radar — and they haven’t killed us yet. Yay?