Who among us hasn’t looked to the heavens and wondered if somewhere out there, intelligent alien life forms are looking back in our direction? That isn’t a rhetorical question, so please message me with the names and contact information of these individuals. One person who has indeed wondered about the presence of intelligent extraterrestrial life is Stephen Hawking. As he is one of the most intelligent terrestrial beings identified at the time of this publication, it makes sense for us to pay attention to Hawking when he says we should be careful. Last year, he warned that the communications we beam out into the depths of space might be detected by alien civilizations so much more advanced than us that they “may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria”.
This was intended as a grave admonition to not blithely broadcast our presence, and our weakness, willy-nilly into the great beyond, lest terrifyingly powerful aliens break out their hyper-advanced lysol and spray us lowly bacteria-humans off the surface of the planet. Chilling though this vision is, we might not need to worry about it too much. If the alien race that finds us is really so super-sapient, they’ll know that applying antibacterials and antiseptics and antibiotics isn’t necessarily the best approach. If they’re truly mind-bogglingly intelligent, they will possess vast, profound knowledge beyond our comprehension on how to culture healthy, thriving microbiomes. They’ll expertly nurture us into diverse, flourishing probiotic colonies. They will ingest us as their otherworldly kombucha, and we will become integrated into them, essential to their own existence, directly incorporated into their digestive tracts, where they’ll carefully feed us the optimal balance of prebiotics so that we all may live long and prosper in harmonious bliss forevermore.
Of course, this is only one potential future path. It is also possible that our own science and technology will be far more advanced than that of the aliens. So awestruck will the aliens be, they shall worship us as gods. Or perhaps, indeed, both of our civilizations will be of equal standing, neither with superior intelligence or learning or tools or culture, with the only difference being that they find us irrepressibly alluring and are forever begging us to bone them, which is convenient because they look like sexy star trek aliens of the kind that Captain Kirk used to get down with. Tonight, as I gaze outward to the cosmos and the darkness of its unfathomable depths and the light of its uncountable stars, I cannot help but think that it is this last path that we ought to take, that we must take; perhaps, indeed, it is our very destiny.