What would you ask an Alien?

At the end of media interviews on UFOs or extraterrestrial life, a fun little question that I’m sometimes asked is something along the lines of “If you could ask an alien one thing, what would you ask?” It’s actually quite an interesting concept, so I thought that in my column this month, I’d throw out a few possibilities.

The initial temptation would probably be to head for the ‘big questions’ – some vague, others specific. Vague ones would doubtless include “What is the meaning of life?” while examples of specific ones might be “Is there a God?” or “Does consciousness survive death?”

We might choose to ask something about the extraterrestrials themselves and about the cosmos more generally, seeking knowledge about their world and about other civilizations; a sort of “What’s out there?” question. This would be particularly interesting if it could teach us something useful and relevant to our own situation, so good questions might include “What existential threats did you face and how did you overcome them?” (Or the more self-focused “What’s the biggest current threat to Planet Earth?), or “What political structures are best for ensuring a just, tolerant, happy and prosperous society?”

Inevitably, the questions would move towards a wish list aimed at solving problems we face: “How do you cure cancer and other diseases?”, “How can we best feed the world and eliminate poverty?”, “How can we deal with global warming?” and “Is there a safe way to generate clean, safe and renewable energy, sufficient for our needs?”

Another category of questions relates to science and technology, to big questions that would also have huge practical implications. Examples here include “Can a machine ever become self-aware?”, “How did life begin?” and “Is time travel possible?”

Physicists would doubtless ask for the ‘Theory of Everything’ – a unified theory that combines general relativity with quantum mechanics and successfully explains the true nature of the Universe. This should – theoretically – answer a whole host of other questions such as “How did the Universe begin?”, “Are there other Universes?” and “What is the ultimate fate of the Universe?”

An alternative strategy would be based on the assumption that extraterrestrials would have studied us carefully and might have knowledge and insights about our history and about humanity itself. We might ask “What is the most interesting characteristic of human beings and our society, when compared to other intelligent lifeforms?”, “What do you regard as our greatest achievements?” or “How does the human race measure up morally, compared to other civilizations?” We could even zero in on interesting mysteries or historical questions such as “Does Bigfoot exist?”, “Who was Jack the Ripper?”, “What crashed at Roswell?”, “Was there a conspiracy to kill JFK?” or “What happened to Jimmy Hoffa?”

Finally, there are the ‘trick questions’, such as “What’s the smartest question we could ask you?”, “What haven’t we asked, that you think we should ask?” or “What easy thing aren’t we doing, as a society, that we could most productively do?” These are questions that might take us somewhere interesting, but where we wouldn’t have thought to go, ourselves.

Nick Pope - UFO Digest

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