Stephen Hawking: Aliens May Pose Risk

Over the decades science fiction and horror have alternated in their depiction of alien visitation between concepts of invasion and attack on the one hand, and the benign or loving, at times divine sage on the other hand. Some filmmakers have even wrestled with both treatments, such as Steven Spielberg, who for many years presented his aliens in positive fashion in films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T., shifting gears dramatically and reluctantly (in a post 9/11 environment) with The War of the Worlds.

Now, noted theoretical physicist and sci-fi fan Stephen Hawking has weighed in with his views on real alien contact in an Associated Press report:

Hawking claims in a new documentary that intelligent alien lifeforms almost certainly exist, but warns that communicating with them could be "too risky."

He speculates most extraterrestrial life will be similar to microbes, or small animals -- but adds advanced lifeforms may be "nomads, looking to conquer and colonize."

The comments came in connection with the Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking series on the Discovery Channel. It sounds as if Hawking agrees with H. G. Wells in that future visiting aliens may be "intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic." See the news item as printed in The Detroit News, and a more extensive article here. And for a contrary perspective on the topic, consider this article.

Update: Michael Shermer has written a piece for the Scientific American titled "The Myth of the Evil Alien" disagreeing with Hawking.

Comment Pages

There are 4 Comments to "Stephen Hawking: Aliens May Pose Risk"

  • Cory Gross says:

    I find this unlikely. I can't think of any situation where the meeting of foreign peoples has resulted in situations of conflict.

    In seriousness, I do find it interesting that the cracks of doubt are showing in atheism's Next Best Thing to God.

  • CRwM says:

    I actually side with Hawkings on this. From a strictly biological standpoint, first contact could be devestating even if all sides met peacefully and in good faith. I'm thinking here of the risks not just to us, but to the alien lifeforms we could destroy unintentionally through reckless interaction.

    I'd like to be more hopeful, and one can certainly imagine better scenarios; but the fact remains that we have a single well-documented historical model available for the extrapolation of outcomes of such situations and the conclusions one draws from the Columbian exchange model suggest near genocide for one side or the other.

  • josh says:

    I can give you lots of examples of situations where the meetings of foreign peoples has resulted in situations of conflict. I hope you were being sarcastic..if not, and judging by the rest of your post I am going to conclude you were actually being serious, you are a complete idiot or just a troll....

  • Josh, my post is a serious mention of an item related to the potential related to intergalactic contact. Perhaps you take issue with one of the comments in terms of sarcasm rather than my post. In either case, as stated in this blog's About page, TheoFantastique is a place for thoughtful and respectful commentary, even in the face of disagreement over topics. For now I won't delete your comment above, but now you know the rules and have been warned.

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