First Contact Will Be With Machines

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The Day We Make Contact


The day we make contact it will be with machines.  At least that would seem to be the likeliest scenario, if you think about it from our perspective.  We have sent a handful of people to the moon and many more closer to earths orbit, but probes?  From Able to Pioneer 1 through 11 , Cassini, Cassandra  and the rest of the history of probes, I could go on for days here but I won’t.  Instead I will tell you that  with Curiosity we have put the largest most sophisticated object on another planet than ever before. We reach out to the universe with robots, our machines.

© Radius Images/Corbis

Here back on earth the USA has perfected this technology.  We police our wars with drones, cloak our soldiers and use satellite surveillance. We as a nation have participated in a gaming generation that will some day not be able justify sending our soldiers in harms way when we can build a drone to perform the same task. From this moment on America will be perceived as SkyNet to the rest of the world. Especially when our major physical contact with third world countries becomes increasingly involved with drones and droids.

US drone

As a nation we have dominated Mars, Sojourner, Spirit, Freedom, Curiosity and the Mars Global Surveyor .  Cassini has shown us hexagons on Saturn, and with Voyager 1 we have passed the threshold of our solar system in a single life time and entered interstellar space. We will create quantum computing and continue to send more complex and intelligent probes into space.  Discovering more questions and answers.  And the same that has always held true with science  will continue to be true until the complete opposite of what we expect to happen happens.  Then the next step of mans knowledge will occur, leaving mankind to send more probes further and faster and with more sophistication and speed.

With the vast possible combinations of life that exist, holding true to the numbers of  life forms on earth we have discovered.  Being mostly microbes that seem to dominate everywhere because of their small mobile structure.  Yet with such variances that they could be unrecognizable to us as a species.  The first life we might recognize might be a lot like us.  Which is why finding, or recognizing life out in the universe might take awhile. Yet when we do, that would lend to be a large chance that they too would send out probes and droids.  If so, first contact, would be with a machine.

© Radius Images/Corbis
© Radius Images/Corbis

A Lot Like Us

Chances are intelligent life evolved a lot like we did.  Born of a planet with a thick atmosphere  near its mother star.  They would most likely expose themselves to the same risk we do when it comes to space travel.  Evolving in the controlled conditions of a planet don’t prepare you far space. Chances are they would use tools.  Tools lead to technology which leads to better tools, tools and technology go hand in hand. They are one and the same. Probes and droids are tools, the best we have to offer from our current technology.  We may have seen some already but if not the chances are high that we will someday.

As we branched out we sent a message with the Voyager programs of hope and welcome. Our message in a bottle as Sagan would have said.  In time we will send more containing more messages.  First contact may not occur with the arrival of a large craft looming over a city but by means of a small craft landing in someones back yard.  Either gathering information or bring a message or both.  That contact could be very limited and not involve the entirety of the human race.  It may only happen once and could be a long long time before it happened again.  The universe is really big so I envision a chart of human contact through history and expand it.  Unless they can jump through worm holes or have advanced far beyond our technological achievements. they may be doing the same thing we are.  Finding each other could take some time.

We could pick the best candidate of an exo-planet and send a probe towards it, which I am sure some day we will.  First contact may very well be made by us.  On earth it will be our drones and droids that will begin to police and probe for us.  Out in the universe it could very well be the same.  I hope we learn to treat both the same with the same message carried by Voyager.

© Radius Images/Corbis
© Radius Images/Corbis

Perhaps when we meet, it might not even be us but our probes. Then we will have made first contact with our machines.