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How Would We Even Make First Contact with Aliens?

There are aliens out there (and if there aren’t any, it’s just more fun to believe that there are). But if they are out there, how do we find them? Once we find them, how do we contact them? And once we contact them, how do we actually communicate with them?

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Wendover Productions made this captivating video that gives some ideas on how to find aliens (look at the stars) and what contacting them would mean (contact between different civilizations is historically, um, not good). But the video actually gets even more interesting when it takes a deeper look into our understanding of how our world works and how our languages work.

Figuring out how to contact aliens is a helluva brain exercise. The languages we speak on Earth all follow roughly the same rules no matter the language (noun and verb structure, word frequency etc.), but it might be silly to assume that aliens can understand our concept of language, since other animals on this planet already communicate differently (color, pheromones, etc.) And even if we could somehow figure out an alien language (like in Arrival), it’s hard to know what their words actually mean, because straight translations of foreign languages don’t always tell the full story without an understanding of their context. It’s hard to communicate without any sort of common ground.

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Wendover Productions says maybe we should communicate with math, since math is universal as one plus one will always equals two. Establishing that we know math can help us reach some sort of understanding with them but there’s still just so much more to figure out. Watch the video below to find out more.

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DISCUSSION

We will make first contact with aliens when we’ve achieved FTL systems and have expanded to use at least most of the solar system (or several) for resources. There is just zero* reason for an alien race to have any contact with us before we achieve that. This is actually the most reasonable answer.

* Zero - as in there is no benefit to an alien race to interact with a species that has not yet achieved interstellar capacity. Because the lesser species will covet what the more advanced species possesses. More importantly, we won’t have the technology to protect ourselves from FTL transits if we haven’t developed our own systems. We will have to evolve material science and physics to an amazing degree - able to use resources in-situ without depending on a habitable planet or gravity well. Achieving all that at least guarantees some form of equitable footing for a meeting, and at least an initial basis for trade and trust in interactions. Before that moment, we simply aren’t important enough to interact with. Which is why this is the most straight forward and simple answer for a lack of contact. Every other answer assumes some form of unique status assigned to the Earth in general and humanity in specific. Such an assumption is incongruent with every single last revelation we’ve had about our place in the universe since our scientific explorations began.