Originally published 8/20/2016. Minor grammatical edits. Lead image via Pexels.
Scifi Question: “Would we be at the mercy of any aliens advanced enough to travel to earth? Could aliens invade successfully?”
I know most of my insomnia posts aren’t about random science fiction questions, but I would just like to set the record straight on this one.
If aliens came to earth, would they have weapons powerful enough to take us over (apart from disease, telepathy, etc.)? Would they have to be advanced in military weapons in order to travel across the universe?
No. Space travel does not automatically mean WMDs. Here’s why.
Of course, we don’t have space travel yet, and we are capable of wiping out an entire civilization. So what’s so different about extraterrestrial life?
Well, comparing alien species to humans is forming quite a few assumptions. I’m just going to quickly outline every criterion an alien would need to meet:
1. Are they naturally warlike?
Would fire ants be more warlike than humans if they were sentient like us? Yes.
Would Butterflies? No.
So why do we assume they’re just as warlike as humans? What if they spent all their resources on space travel (ex. if their planet was slowly dying) in favor of weapons?
Carnivore or herbivore? Carnivores are a lot more likely to naturally want weapons to hunt, like early humans did.
2. Are they worse at surviving, or better?
Having an alien species made of rhino invading us with weapons that can kill rhino people would be a lot worse than being attacked by slugs whose weapons don’t have to be as strong to combat each other. A human knife would kill another human, but a crocodile might be a bit harder. Similarly, an alien race of squids would have weapons capable of piercing squid flesh, not necessarily human flesh.
What if they never developed melanin, and aren’t resistant to UV rays? Then they probably use sunlight as a weapon against each other. Not looking too terrifying to us.
3. Is their society divided enough to need weapons?
Medieval Europe developed countless weapons because countries were constantly warring with each other. Meanwhile, an isolated Amazonian tribe without other humans would have no need to get an advantage over neighbors. Is this alien species divided by nationality? Is there even more than one nationality?
4. Did they make the weapons themselves?
This one is kind of cheating, but something to consider. You now have TWO alien races, one that makes weapons and ships and another that just steals/borrows/trades for them. If the latter came to earth in a stolen space ship, would they even have weapons with them?
5. Do the visiting aliens have permission to use their weapons?
If this species is so advanced, why haven’t they settled world peace already? Was there just no Geneva Convention?
Additionally, a visiting space ship is entirely different than a government-backed armada. If you sailed to an uncharted island on a canoe, would the US government just hand you some nukes to blow up the natives? Do average citizens own nukes? Do they have gun control in their society?
6. Are they even on our level?
I’m sorry but humans are megafauna. For animals, we are classified as large creatures. We stopped at nuclear weapons because we felt that they were too powerful for us. So where would a society of bacteria stop? At soap?
So this is why I have no sympathy for people who are afraid of aliens declaring war on earth (science fiction scenario, of course). If we do find extraterrestrial life, it’ll probably be bacteria or just scattered amino acids. If extraterrestrial life finds us, there are far more possibilities than “submit or die”, like you see in the movies.
On that note, I think “Could aliens invade us?” is a great discussion topic for this post’s comment section (wink wink).