Dangerous Things
Custom gadgetry for the discerning hacker

The Store is now open! Check out the gadgetry »
Like what you're reading?
Share It.

RTOTD: What would a real alien invasion look like?

Just a random thought – Pretty much all alien movies show alien ships piloted by alien beings of some sort, while the most likely scenario would not include any “manned” craft at all. Why would aliens even bother to make the trip, even if they had some kind of faster-than-light travel capability? We certainly don’t do that kind of thing. We send robots out into space and land them on the surface of other planets all the time.

If I think back to all the UFO stories I’ve ever heard, from the 1950s to today, the behavior of these UFOs seems rather stiff… fly in straight lines, follow alongside airplanes matching velocity perfectly, make zigzag moves and hairpin turns that would generate so much inertia that the momentum of the “stuff” inside an organic alien body would liquefy… all this behavior speaks to computerized AIs, not to ships piloted by organic beings. With their obviously superior technology, I’m 100% certain the only alien craft humanity would ever encounter would be a physical AI construct… an entirely artificial life form. The ships themselves would not be transportation for the AIs, but literally be the AI beings. Just like us meat sacks walk around in our bodies, the AIs would fly around space in their exotic nano-metal alloy skins… kinda like Flight of the Navigator… only without the squishy human child inside. There would probably be zero room for anything besides scientific sample collections.

The truly scary thing would be fighting some kind of war or conflict, or fending off alien planet-scavengers. Likely, they would do what our military is already trying to do… setup a drone force of remote controlled and fully autonomous robots that can pulverize a kill zone before a single “friendly” human being sets foot there. Why wouldn’t any intelligent alien being not do exactly the same? It would be a fight we absolutely could not win. Heck, we can’t even effectively defend against an incoming asteroid these days… all the aliens would have to do would be to literally throw some rocks at us and we’d be defenseless.

Go humans!

6 Responses to “RTOTD: What would a real alien invasion look like?”

  1. Jesse says:

    Here’s my only counter-thought to this: It’d be impractical or impossible to remotely navigate any type of unmanned craft from extreme distances away, and if an alien race can program and generate an AI capable of taking out our planet, couldn’t it do the same to their own?
    I think that all intelligent species, if indeed we’re not alone, will all come face to face with that line between AI and having things done “safely” for you, and creating something that would be tough to stop if it turned on you. The implications here would lead me to believe that despite the ground force most likely being drones, there’d have to be some amount of manned craft nearby to control these things.
    This also, for me, leads to some fairly existential questions. With all of our thoughts on AI and the possibilities, including Terminator-style rebellions, is this merely a human concern/possibility, or would this be a universal hazard no matter what? Is it our human tendencies that cause us to fear it, or could inadvertently cause us to program an AI with the same “mind”, or would an alien race regardless of how noble or advanced be facing the same issues?
    I think I need to stop watching so many documentaries.

  2. Amal says:

    Nice thought Jesse, but I think the evolutionary principle of natural selection would come into play here. If an alien species created a dangerous AI and wiped themselves out with it, we’d never see it. Hence, the only alien AIs we’d come into contact with would come from a society that overcame that issue.

    Taking out a planet by nudging some space rocks around is child’s play for our NASA types, so I doubt it would be too terribly difficult for an AI to play space-billiards with Earth and a few Kuiper belt rocks. Just a couple of decent sized ones smacking into us would annihilate basically all intelligent life on the planet.

    Also, entangled particles may offer the possibility of communicating with a remote vehicle in real-time (faster than the speed of light). In fact, I believe the video game Mass Effect 2 leverages this possibility to enable ships to communicate with each other in real-time across vast galactic distances. This possibility becomes even more tantalizing if faster-than-light travel is not actually possible or practical (even for advanced aliens).

  3. Jodi Thomas says:

    I always think same thing, these little UFO orbs and small craft that are captured on video all make me think of some of kind of remotely operated scout.
    And as to the communication from vast light years away I believe that entangled particles could set the stage for the possibility of instantaneous communication of a signal. Physicist recently sent data on a beam of neutrinos, who knows as we discover other particles and types of energy what we will be able to harness.
    With hundreds of billions of galaxies out there, there surely are billions of other life forms out there, many of which will probably exceed our wildest imaginations. I just hope that when we do meet another race they are patient, kind and vegetarian. Hate to find out human was the best tasting animal on this planet!!

  4. Jester says:

    There are two assumptions inherent here: (1) that a natural development course necessarily requires the advent of computational systems, which may only be a natural outgrowth of human problem solving, and (2) that an alien society will simultaneously need resources so bad that traveling 40,000,000,000,000+ miles to get them and have the resources to do so.

    If either one of those proves false, then no AI drones. I think that there are probably 4 or 5 different courses that typical complex organisms take. I bet the ones that develop AI and automation prematurely (say, a species that develops automatic tracking and killing machines before they’ve built a reliable spreadsheet, for example) end up dead, and the others end up fairly isolated given the absurd timescales necessary to cross any non-trivial distance in space.

    Which leads me to a prediction. I think that, we, as a lazy, generally stupid, and arrogant race with a severe habit of hacking the end of a project when intelligence fails us, are going to develop machines that feed us within the next 20 years. within 40 not a human on earth will remember how to cook. One day, either because the AI wakes up, or because some damned nerd tries to run a credit card scam from a zombie-net of McDonalds cookbot servers, it will all shut off. Our final hours will be spent in brutal hungry agony banging our fat, pitiful hands on plastic and metal boxes, begging for a meal. There will be no revolution, no violence, only a final dismal growl of our stomach.

    Well, I guess I woke up in a disheartening mood this morning. Cheers!

  5. Amal says:

    Haha whoa! Who’s been watching a little too much Wall-E lately?

    I think the possibility exists that an alien civilization could have followed a similar development path to ours… fire, the wheel, electricity, nuclear weaponry, computers, space exploration, colonization of nearby moons and planets, advancements in ion/plasma/warp propulsion systems, takeover of entire solar system, inter-planetary resource mining, AI advancements, friendly self-replicating AI beings emerge and begin conquering nearby solar systems by leveraging their ability to be shot out of galactic travel cannons without much regard for inertia.

    From there the whims and curiosities of an AI based civilization that merely parallel an organic one only in as far as it’s early development will carry these timeless beings between solar systems and possibly between galaxies. Perhaps with the resources of several solar systems at their disposal, a trillion trillion trillion of these beings could be constructed/created/birthed that have nothing better to do than to go on a 100 million light year road trip to see what the neighbors are up to. With a borg-like hive mind based on entangled particles and centralized network hubs to link the vast dispersed population, at least they’d never be lonely during the trip.

  6. Amal says:

    As if to prove my point about how easy it would be for an alien/AI being to wipe us out by nudging space rocks toward us… we’re actually planning on doing that ourselves; http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2012/04/asteroid-takeout—a-one-billionaire-mission-to-bring-a-500-ton-asteroid-to-high-earth-orbit-by-2025.ars

Leave a Reply

Get Adobe Flash player