PrintE-mail Written by Nigel Watson

A gaggle of experts are interviewed about what they think would happen if we made contact with an intelligent alien species. The main presumption is that they would land their vehicle on Earth, or least make their presence known in our vicinity, and we would need to visit their ship to make ‘first contact’.

The experts consulted are astrophysicists, sociologists, theologians and government officials, no barmy ufologists, excited exopolitics fans or even anyone remotely connected to science fiction are included. That means this is a rather contemplative and sober look at the implications of alien contact.

Their thoughts are that we must consider what their intentions are, are they here by accident to repair their craft, to intentionally make communications with us or are they part of an invasion force? Until we know their plans their craft would have to be isolated and protected from curiosity seekers, politicians of the world would then have to nominate a person to visit their craft and speak to them on behalf of the whole of humanity. That, in itself, would be a massive task and we can’t imagine much consensus there. 

There is a very funny sequence involving a British government official, who, when composing an imaginary press release, boldly states that there is no need for the public to be worried about this situation. His colleague asks him if this is right. He has to acknowledge that this is what we’ll have to say to stop widespread panic, until we can find out more about the aliens. He also suggests that we send in David Attenborough because he knows a lot about wildlife and the like!

When a person is nominated to encounter the aliens (David Attenborough or not), what would they tell the aliens about us? They could list all our achievements but would it be appropriate to tell them about our warlike behaviour and the repellent activities humanity have conducted over the centuries? In turn, will the aliens be open and honest about themselves and reveal their true intentions? 

The film takes a leisurely cruise through the subject and besides the odd insight - such as will the encounter be real or a virtual reality projection created by the aliens? It doesn’t take many leaps of the imagination. Given the fact that we have been inundated by flying saucer and alien invasion movies since the 1950s, that have looked at first contact from a multitude of angles and perspectives, it is worrying that these experts seem to have little to add to this subject. 



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