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Idea for why potential aliens would have no reason to interact with us


ALine
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After reading @Moontanmans post about the alien documentary "The Phenomenon" which I believe was from another thread it got me thinking. If a complex alien life did exist, why would they not interact with us? What reasoning would they have to not say "hey, here we are. We exist." And I believe that a potential idea is that of for scientific analysis and discovery. 

When humans who have more advanced understandings of things discover and interact with humans who, in many cases, have less formalized structures they tend to do so from a distance. Not directly interacting in order to obtain more knowledge from a non-interactive stance which could influence the behaviors of the civilization being observed. 

If "aliens" or "complex intelligent life outside of earth" were find us and understand us, I believe that it would be from this standpoint. As an observer only. 

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It's the prime directive in Star Trek - non-interference with peoples who are not yet on a technological par with the federation. So what they do is spy from holographically hidden places of concealment, or else alter their faces to resemble natives and infiltrate the local population. (usually doesn't work out as planned) 

I can think of a couple of other reasons: They may be xenophobic and shun contact will all other species. They may not regard us as intelligent, but observe us a mere specimens. They may be so different in physiology as to render interaction impractical. Or they may be so different in every way that they don't even recognize us a life forms.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Peterkin said:

It's the prime directive in Star Trek - non-interference with peoples who are not yet on a technological par with the federation. So what they do is spy from holographically hidden places of concealment, or else alter their faces to resemble natives and infiltrate the local population. (usually doesn't work out as planned) 

I can think of a couple of other reasons: They may be xenophobic and shun contact will all other species. They may not regard us as intelligent, but observe us a mere specimens. They may be so different in physiology as to render interaction impractical. Or they may be so different in every way that they don't even recognize us a life forms.

Yeah, Like how we view a rock as being non-sapient. To them, our makeup may not be complex enough to be considered more than just that.

They may have a limit as to what they classify as being....whatever they define as being intelligent. If they even define anything at all. Classification is the result of currently known biological organisms brain defining things. What if, physically and chemically, there make up is of a completely different "chemical mechanism." Meaning that particles which form our unique sequences of biological life may be totally different from there's. Like how there is more than one potential LUCA but smaller. There may be more than a single type of intelligence we cannot even fathom, or describe for that matter.

Edited by ALine
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6 hours ago, ALine said:

Yeah, Like how we view a rock as being non-sapient. To them, our makeup may not be complex enough to be considered more than just that.

To them (and us) they wouldn't know the difference, it would be like trying to have a conversation with an ant; not because they/us are better, but because such a conversation would be impossible to comprehend, for both...

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31 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

To them (and us) they wouldn't know the difference, it would be like trying to have a conversation with an ant; not because they/us are better, but because such a conversation would be impossible to comprehend, for both...

I don't agree, I believe that communication with an alien would be rather easy.  Communication with ants is difficult because ants don't have anything to say, they're ants.  

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Bufofrog said:

I don't agree, I believe that communication with an alien would be rather easy.  Communication with ants is difficult because ants don't have anything to say, they're ants.  

Why would you believe that?

We think we know how a dog thinks, it's a fellow mammal after all, but what would you say when it asks "smell that, nudge nudge wink wink"?

Edited by dimreepr
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, dimreepr said:

To them (and us) they wouldn't know the difference, it would be like trying to have a conversation with an ant; not because they/us are better, but because such a conversation would be impossible to comprehend, for both...

The disparity in communicative ability wouldn't even have to be this extreme.  Communication is only engaged in by intelligent beings if there is the perception of some meaningful exchange of data / information; absent this perceived value the initiative to communicate does not exist.  Think of how many of your own species you have no interest in communicating with, even those who are comparably on par with you in terms of intelligence.  If it is your perception that the energy expended in the interaction will not be redeemable in terms of meaningful data reciprocated by the interlocutor, communication becomes an exercise in futility rather quickly.  

8 hours ago, ALine said:

Yeah, Like how we view a rock as being non-sapient. To them, our makeup may not be complex enough to be considered more than just that.

 

This brings to mind Sam Harris's amusing diagram used in his "Can we build AI without losing control over it?" TED talk.  Harris outlined a spectrum of intelligence with a normal human, John Von Neumann, a chicken, and a potential expanse of intelligence of which we cannot possibly fathom.  

1297311030_ScreenShot2022-06-08at20_36_19.png.0c1d7354f9027134d6707bb5888d75b6.png

Edited by Alex_Krycek
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Bufofrog said:

Communication with ants is difficult because ants don't have anything to say, they're ants.  

Communication with aliens is difficult, because they are aliens. What they have to say may not interest us, and vice versa. Ants had a terrific lot to say to EO Wilson - as, indeed, they do to me, and have the added advantage of living in the same biosphere, with similar needs. Aliens - who knows? Close Encounters notwithstanding, there is only so much you can say with numbers, especially as there is guarantee that see colours or hear music the same way we do. The lack of verbs and nouns is a hindrance in exchanging confidences.

But I suppose 'they' could send specs for a telepathic spaceship a la Contact.... but since we already have a Ship of the Imagination, we can achieve the same result (one person, having a conversation with a dead parent) without all that expenditure of resources.  

Edited by Peterkin
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15 minutes ago, Bufofrog said:

Because we both are intelligent and we have a common language, mathematics.

Ants work together. A pack of wolves work together. Birds work together. Some animals hunt alone, granted.. but still, a form of communication must exist for them and they must got to have different types of intelligence specified and / or evolved by a relation between life condition(s) and general animal/insect/etc psychology. For life / survival tasks.

It is just that there are too much of incompatibility in communication between us humans and insects, animals, etc. There has to be an intermediate language between us and them, we can't just expect and force to bring them up or down to our communication level because of different intelligence types.

An intermediate or universal language has to be realized first. We have to start thinking about a common and physical characteristic shared across us humans, insects, animals, etc in order to have a formulation of an intermediate or universal language then make derivations of languages from it for specific intelligence types.

Maybe with math and AI machine learning assistance, we could learn how to communicate with ants, wolves, birds, etc here on Earth in future. To better take care of Earth.

Then after that, maybe who know we might make a contact, encounter, and / or visit by aliens from outer space or something like that.

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If aliens have developed a civilization where communicating with us is feasible, then they are technophilic like us, and we are going to have enough similarities (use of math and complex language, articulated appendages, aptitude for applying scientific methods, economic systems that allow massive technological projects like starships and/or radio astronomy) that there would be common ground.   It's true we might serve, for them, as a glimpse into what might be their ancient times, and so we might chiefly interact with their anthropologists or equivalents.  An analogy might be human scientists of the past couple centuries who visited stone age tribes dwelling in remote jungles and learned much about our hunter-gatherer roots from them.

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I think the primary reason aliens don’t communicate with us is that they would be many light-years away from us and the speed of light is finite. That’s a show-stopper even before you consider other confounding effects.

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Posted (edited)
51 minutes ago, tylers100 said:

Ants work together. A pack of wolves work together. Birds work together. Some animals hunt alone, granted.. but still, a form of communication must exist for them and they must got to have different types of intelligence specified and / or evolved by a relation between life condition(s) and general animal/insect/etc psychology. For life / survival tasks.

With the species you mentioned communication as an exchange of data manifests along different channels.  Some species are limited to channels that humans have access to but have evolved beyond. 

Pheromones would be an example of this.  Humans respond to pheromones subconsciously but it is not our primary channel of transmitting data, as it is with ants.  Humans have evolved into a higher dimension of communication that involves semiosis - the transcription of signs and symbols - in order to relay meaning. 

Other mammals employ sound as humans do but have not evolved into semiotics, while some animals seem to have access to channels that humans do not.  Some birds, for example, can see the Earth's mangnetic field, a process called magnetoreception, which is beyond human capability. 

This is to say nothing of the technology humans have developed to extend our sensory awareness beyond that attributable to physical evolution, allowing us to perceive a myriad of channels including the subatomic realm, spectrums of light, radiation,etc.

So I think it would be reasonable to assume that an alien being could develop a communicative ability that is beyond our comprehension, simply by existing long enough in a different evolutionary environment.  Similarly if we consider these channels as hierarchical levels, with chemical stimuli existing on a more basic level, sound further up the ladder, semiotics further still, and so on, then a more advanced being could feasibly "step down" this ladder to communicate, as humans can if we want to influence an ant or whistle to a dog.  What the next levels on this hierarchy could potentially be is an interesting question.

Edited by Alex_Krycek
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4 minutes ago, swansont said:

I think the primary reason aliens don’t communicate with us is that they would be many light-years away from us and the speed of light is finite. That’s a show-stopper even before you consider other confounding effects.

Our experience is based on such an infinitesimal section of our own evolutionary development that even that apparent roadblock  needs to pass the test of possibly millennia of further development before it can pass its "Sigma test."

 

Agreed it seems likely we will never encounter intelligent alien species  in the flesh.

 

If they had themselves  survived long enough to discover us they might be well advised to keep their social distance based on present and past evidence.

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I think the OP question was not whether communication with aliens is possible (maybe - depends on whether they have technology and functionality similar to ours, and physiology in a similar range so that transmission and reception were compatible) but why they might choose not to make contact. 

 - because they don't recognize us an an [intelligent] life-form

- because they have no interest in contact with other life-forms

- because they have a policy of non-interference with developing cultures

- because they're afraid we might harm them in some way (missiles, flu, greed, schizophrenia....)

- because they've been taught not to play with their food

 - other

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11 minutes ago, geordief said:

If they had themselves  survived long enough to discover us they might be well advised to keep their social distance based on present and past evidence.

If they have discovered us, it’s a discovery of us in the past. And communicating with us requires the same amount of delay in getting a signal to us.

Keeping their distance is not a problem, since one can’t travel fast enough.

 

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5 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

I think the OP question was not whether communication with aliens is possible (maybe - depends on whether they have technology and functionality similar to ours, and physiology in a similar range so that transmission and reception were compatible) but why they might choose not to make contact. 

 - because they don't recognize us an an [intelligent] life-form

- because they have no interest in contact with other life-forms

- because they have a policy of non-interference with developing cultures

- because they're afraid we might harm them in some way (missiles, flu, greed, schizophrenia....)

- because they've been taught not to play with their food

 - other

They might mistake us for God and be worshipping us from afar.

 

the Prince Philip syndrome.

1 minute ago, swansont said:

If they have discovered us, it’s a discovery of us in the past. And communicating with us requires the same amount of delay in getting a signal to us.

Keeping their distance is not a problem, since one can’t travel fast enough.

 

Maybe a high quality simulation could have  predicted us

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2 hours ago, swansont said:

I think the primary reason aliens don’t communicate with us is that they would be many light-years away from us and the speed of light is finite. That’s a show-stopper even before you consider other confounding effects.

Not necessarily, aliens of one or several species could inhabit the Kuiper belt living in O'Neil type habitats or many other configurations. They could indeed avoid planets for many reasons but a planet with a burgeoning civilization may tempt specialists to observe us, especially since they inhabit our solar system. This idea of inhabiting many planetary systems could suggest that the galaxy is full of intelligent life but planets would be avoided this still leaves room for colonization of the galaxy and nearly every star would be a candidate, not just stars with habitable planets.     

3 hours ago, tylers100 said:

Ants work together. A pack of wolves work together. Birds work together. Some animals hunt alone, granted.. but still, a form of communication must exist for them and they must got to have different types of intelligence specified and / or evolved by a relation between life condition(s) and general animal/insect/etc psychology. For life / survival tasks.

It is just that there are too much of incompatibility in communication between us humans and insects, animals, etc. There has to be an intermediate language between us and them, we can't just expect and force to bring them up or down to our communication level because of different intelligence types.

An intermediate or universal language has to be realized first. We have to start thinking about a common and physical characteristic shared across us humans, insects, animals, etc in order to have a formulation of an intermediate or universal language then make derivations of languages from it for specific intelligence types.

Maybe with math and AI machine learning assistance, we could learn how to communicate with ants, wolves, birds, etc here on Earth in future. To better take care of Earth.

Then after that, maybe who know we might make a contact, encounter, and / or visit by aliens from outer space or something like that.

There are elephants that have taught themselves to speak human languages. On in Korea speak Korean, maybe when we taught apes to use sign language we were picking the wrong species. 

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53 minutes ago, Moontanman said:

Not necessarily, aliens of one or several species could inhabit the Kuiper belt living in O'Neil type habitats or many other configurations.

Is there any evidence that they do?

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7 minutes ago, swansont said:

Is there any evidence that they do?

Hmmm... 

Starts at 01:20 or so to 03:00 ... no evidence of course only my blind speculation based on what is possible. 

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10 hours ago, Peterkin said:

I think the OP question was not whether communication with aliens is possible (maybe - depends on whether they have technology and functionality similar to ours, and physiology in a similar range so that transmission and reception were compatible) but why they might choose not to make contact. 

 - because they don't recognize us an an [intelligent] life-form

- because they have no interest in contact with other life-forms

- because they have a policy of non-interference with developing cultures

- because they're afraid we might harm them in some way (missiles, flu, greed, schizophrenia....)

- because they've been taught not to play with their food

 - other

yes this is correct. I was not considering whether or not its possible, but instead reasons why they would choose not to make contact as you so eloquently put it. 

All while maintaining certain assumptions such as that they "could" contact us. So that is being held as a constant. Like how we could make contact with other humans on the planet. Its a path of action which is freely available.

Sorry, should have thought out the topic more clearly. Writing up assumptions and such.

Wait. Let me just do it here. 

Assumption 1: Aliens Exist

Assumption 2: They can travel to different areas at will

Assumption 3 : They are what we consider to be intelligent based on our limited knowledge and understanding. 

Assumption 4: They can be considered like a "higher form of intelligence" verses us. So if humans had the chance to "grow" so to speak.

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11 minutes ago, ALine said:

reasons why they would choose not to make contact as you so eloquently put it. 

Put yourself in their shoes. We’re intelligent, but also largely still driven by ancient instincts that were designed to give us a survival advantage in a largely hostile environment. Most people’s thought patterns are overwhelmingly ego-centric, along the lines of “what can I get out of this?”. People spend their entire lives chasing sense pleasure and running away from discomfort, putting them at the mercy of external circumstance. Our societies institutionalise greed (economic systems), hatred (militarism and nationalism), and mass delusion (corporate media). At any given time there are at least half a dozen active war zones around the world; we can’t even get along with our own species, and our own natural environment - never even mind with aliens. All these things were indispensable survival tools in the distant past, but now our technology has outpaced our ethical and psychological evolution - a very dangerous situation. We’re animals waving thermonuclear warheads around. Would you really want to get involved with such a species? I sure wouldn’t - I’d recognise their potential, and perhaps would watch from a distance, but otherwise would choose to wait until they’ve outgrown their first set of teeth at least. And as a species we’re nowhere even near that point, IMHO.

Besides, if there are several spacefaring species in our galaxy competing for finite resources, then there’s quite a lot to be said for remaining silent and invisible, as a general rule (‘Dark Forest Theory’):

https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/the-dark-forest-theory-a-terrifying-explanation-of-why-we-havent-heard-from-aliens-yet/

Apologies for being dark and pessimistic. Personally I see a lot of beauty and potential in Homo sapiens sapiens, but for now I see us as being little better than animals with a knack for technology. So I’m not in the least surprised that no one else has made contact.

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