Generally, in sci-fi movies, when aliens make first contact with Earth, they’re either overtly hostile, like in Independence Day, or they’re here to help us build a brighter future, like in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It might seem an odd place for the subject to come up, but it was a topic of discussion at last month’s World Economic Forum in Switzerland, and they worry about what will happen if we’re not ready for first contact.
According to the Huffington Post, economists identified five “unheralded dangers” that could “sneak up on us” in the coming years. Some of these dangers include climate change and an overgrowth in the world’s population, but another one were the threat of an alien invasion. But it’s not just an outright invasion that could cause problems.
‘Given the pace of space exploration, it is increasingly conceivable that we may discover the existence of alien life or other planets that could support human life. … In 10 years’ time, we may have evidence not only that Earth is not unique, but also that life exists elsewhere in the universe,’ said the WEF’s 2013 Global Risks Report.
It seems like NASA and other agencies are discovering new exoplanets every other week these days. And if we eventually do discover extraterrestrial life, it could have profound effects on our culture and on many people’s belief systems.
‘It will suggest that life is as natural and as ubiquitous a part of the universe as the stars and galaxies,’ the WEF report said. ‘The discovery of even simple life would fuel speculation about the existence of other intelligent beings and challenge many assumptions that underpin human philosophy and religion.’
The World Economic Forum wants to get the world’s smartest people on this problem right away, so we could all be better prepared should it happen.
The scientists suggest that new funding and new brain power will be needed to overcome the challenges that humanity will face as a result of its encounter with an extraterrestrial civilization.
Hopefully the discovery of alien life will more resemble the movie Contact than, say, Battle: Los Angeles.