Hello Aliens!12.8 - Understand the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, by receiving radio waves (SETI), including the benefits and dangers of discovering extra-terrestrial life
If we were to be discovered by extra-terrestrial intelligent life they would likely find us of our existence by receiving radio waves that we have been sending to each other since the early 20th century.
The organisation SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) has been listening to radio waves in parts of the galaxy likely to have the conditions for life. It has also sent messages to similar areas. From their website: "The mission of the SETI Institute is to explore, understand and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe and the evolution of intelligence."
Knowing that we are not alone will have a profound effect on our philosophy and outlook as a species. It is useful to compare benefits and dangers of the effects of making contact with another intelligent civilisation. Consider the following statements:
Alien forms of life could lead to cures for existing illnesses
They could also create new bacteria capable of killing all life
Intelligent life may share knowledge about science that we have yet to discover.
Depending on an unknown alien force for knowledge prevents us from advancing as humans
Intelligent life may share advances in technology such as travel and communication.
Intelligent life may be aggressive and set out to invade or hurt Earth life forms including humans