But according to the Drake equation, there’s a decent chance, statistically speaking, that intelligent extraterrestrials are out there somewhere – even if the stars would have to align for us to find and contact each other, given the vastness of our galaxy and enormous distance between planets.
“Finding life or making contact is always going to be highly unlikely until the day we do [it],” says John Zarnecki, emeritus professor of space sciences at the Open University in the UK.
“It reminds me of exoplanets: as a young researcher, it was a topic we talked about, and we all suspected exoplanets were out there, but there was no way that we’d ever find one because it was technically far too difficult.”
We now know exoplanets are out there, and some are even potential candidates for life because they host water.
So with the search ongoing for alien life and the possibility remaining that we encounter it, it’s not amiss to consider how we might react if we ever did make contact – especially considering an intelligent alien species is likely to be very different to our own human one.
Writers don’t seem to have too much hope that humans would treat aliens very well. Perhaps that’s because our track record of affording rights to the inhabitants of this planet, human or otherwise, has been so poor throughout history, despite the international legal conventions supposedly safeguarding them.
The granting of inalienable, universal rights – that is, the rights guaranteed to all people no matter what – were enshrined by the international community into law through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 after the horrors of World War Two.
However, except for sanctions, there are limited means to enforce these rights even for humans. While these laws state that people are supposed to have rights like liberty and freedom from enslavement, afforded to each of us from birth to death, some political philosophers have suggested that in practice, these only really exist on paper.