Paper presented at the 11th Annual CONTACT
Palo Alto, California
March 18th P 20th, 1994.
Despite the continued
sightings of UFOs there is, as yet, no definitive
evidence of where they or their occupants are
from. It is a scientific and mathematical
certainty that life exists on other planets and in
some cases, that life will be “intelligent”. A
number of scientists and organisations are
endeavouring to discover planets which are capable
of sustaining life and to determine what form that
life takes. We include some selected
articles/essays which may be of interest in these
the scientific community, as well as in the
popular press and among science fiction writers,
there has long been
a concern with Extraterrestrials and the
possibility of communication with them. This
concern has led to such projects as the Search for
Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) (Morrison, et
al. 1977) that continues to be a focus of
attention for many scientists even though currently facing reduced
funding (Harrison and Elms 1990, Raybeck 1992). As
recently as this year, Harrison published an
intriguing paper concerning Extraterrestrial
intelligence in one of psychology's major journals
(Harrison 1993). At the same time, scientists have theorized and
speculated about the nature of Extraterrestrial
intelligence and the problems involved in
inter-sapient communication (Sagan 1973). The
general consensus has been that the universe is
very likely to host other intelligent beings, that
some of these will be more technologically
advanced than current humanity, and that some will
be trying to locate other intelligences.
In the science fiction community, images of
Extraterrestrials have been variegated in form, in
intelligence and in intentions. They range form
the beneficent aliens of Julian May, who only wish
to elevate the lot of humanity and facilitate our
participation in an intergalactic "milieu,"
(1987a, 1987b) to the malevolent Extraterrestrials
of Greg Bear, who travel about the universe
locating intelligent life forms and destroying
them because they may be potential future
competitors (1987). Generally, however, images of
aliens in the popular press and among the
scientific community are positive. It is widely
believed that if a sapient form can achieve the
degree of civilization necessary to support
inter-stellar communication, it is unlikely to be
characterized by hostile intentions.
In this paper, I wish to examine this assumption.
As an anthropologist, I am aware that there are
some markedly different paths to the evolution of
intelligence. These differences can provide us
with models that can suggest some of the variety
we may anticipate among Extraterrestrials. I am concerned about the
possibility that a technologically oriented
intelligence may as likely be developed by a predatory species as by a non-predatory one. I am
particularly concerned with the kinds of stimuli
that promote the development of intelligence, and
with what sorts of ethical notions might be
associated with these varying modes of evolving
intelligence. This exercise in modeling should have consequences for how we approach the
possibility of Extraterrestrial communication.
THE CASE FOR INTELLIGENCE
Among the range of definitions for intelligence,
one that is widely accepted is the ability to
learn new response patterns (Jerison 1973).
Generally, intelligence confers upon an organism
greater adaptability and flexibility in dealing
with environmental challenges. However, many
complex adaptations to the environment do not
require the classical concept of intelligence.
Scientists have long known that insects are
capable of complex adaptations to their
environments in a fashion that relies upon genetic
programming rather than on learning (Wilson 1980).
Indeed, Schull has recently argued that even the
adaptive characteristics of plant and animal
species are related to information-processing and
that it would be fruitful to view such species as
intelligent (1990). Overwhelmingly, however, the
scientific community is persuaded that a greater
capacity for learning is a superior adaptation to
In the evolution of intelligence on earth there
has been a consistent trend from relatively closed
instinctive patterns toward "open" learning. (Hinde
1974, Sluckin 1965). Jastrow has noted the
evolution of intelligence from lower organisms to
humanity and to computers (1981). He and others
believe that, if one has competing species, the
evolution of intelligence is inevitable because
the the advantages it confers upon the possessor (Itzkoff
1983, Sagan 1977). However, the questions
concerning the rate at which intelligence is
developed and the nature of the species that are
most likely to possess it are more complex.
Evolutionary theorists and developmental
biologists have long been aware that the
development of intelligence involves a series of
interactions between organisms and their
environment (Laughlin and Brady 1978, Laughlin and
D'Aquili 1974, Manosevetz, et al. 1969, Mazur and
Robertson 1972, Tunnell 1973). The environment
must contain conditions for which intelligence is
an adaptive trait. Beings with greater
intelligence then reproduce in increasing numbers,
filling their eco-niches and driving out less
intelligent competitors. It is important to note,
however, that the entities disadvantaged in this
scenario are the ones that either compete directly
intelligent others or are directly exploited by
Complex environments select for intelligence by
creating conditions where more intelligent
competitors have an advantage in exploiting
limited resources (Evans and Schmidt 1990,
Robinson 1990). Animals that proceed by instinct
have a limited set of behavioral repertoires with
which to respond to changing conditions. They are
limited not only by their physiology, but by their
ability to perceive the existence of new demands
and new resource possibilities. Their coping
equipment is genetically based and suited to the
parameters of the environment in which the
organism evolved. Should that environment change,
the organism may likely prove unable to adapt to
the new circumstances and be seriously
disadvantaged in its competition with other
species. (Daly and Wilson 1978, Dawkins 1976,
Generally, increasing intelligence confers upon an
organism a better opportunity to model the
environment, both natural and behavioral, so that
food getting, mating and general survival
strategies can be maximized. Intelligence is
selected for because it benefits the possessor,
not because it is helpful to others.
Costs and Advantages of Intelligence An increase
in intelligence has meant a corresponding rise in
brain size. As Jerison has noted, "The mass of
neural tissue controlling a particular function is
appropriate to the amount of information
processing involved in performing the function"
(1973: 8). This has been true in organic
evolution, and in the evolution of artificial
intelligence as well (Gardner 1985, Goldstein and
Papert 1977, Jastrow 1981, Llinas 1990, Nelson and
Bower 1990, Schank and Childers 1984). It seems
likely that, however information is
processed, it would also be true for
Intelligence is not without certain physical
costs. Particularly in the case of high mammals,
intelligence has been found to be expensive in
terms of the body's resources. Brain tissue
requires large supplies of glucose and oxygen
(Milton 1988), but these are justified by the
advantages that intelligence confers. Indeed, the
costs of intelligence are evidence of its
importance and success as an environmental
There are also social consequences that accompany
the development of significant intelligence. An
increasing reliance on a learned repertoire
implies an increased period of dependency on the
part of the young. The need for learning plus the
problems of rearing learning-based offspring
involve a very serious cost from an evolutionary
perspective. Such organisms have few offspring and
this means that, unlike lower organisms that
reproduce in greater numbers, the survival of each
of these offspring is important. This longer
maturation period and the need for security
creates a trend toward social living, as the
infant and its mother are in need of the support
of others (Laughlin and D'Aquili 1974). This model
is not only true for humans but also apes,
cetaceans, elephants, and most other mammals with
appreciable intelligence. Further, as we shall
see, the exigencies of social life can prove to be
as strong a stimulus for the evolution of
increased intelligence, as any other factor. This
creates a positive feedback loop in which
intelligence promotes social living which, once
established, makes increased intelligence highly
Even among lower animals, greater intelligence
means more flexibility in dealing with
environmental conditions. For predators this
implies a greater ability to locate and consume
prey, while, for prey, greater intelligence
increases the likelihood of avoiding such a fate
(Byrne and Whiten 1988).
As intelligence increases, other emergent
properties appear which reflect the expanded
complexity of the system, and which confer still
greater advantages upon the possessor. At some
point, increasing intelligence should lead to
self-awareness (Itzkoff 1985, Jastrow 1981,
Laughlin and D'Aquili 1974). An organism equipped
with self- awareness can model not only the
externals of the environment, but can now include
itself as an element of attention. It has a self-
concept separable from the environment and capable
of conscious examination and reflection (Tunnell
1973). Concurrent with such a development is an
increase in the organism's ability to construct an
internal environment that can not only represent
the external world, but also make possible the
construction of symbols which are, by definition,
arbitrarily related to their referents (Gazzaniga
1992, Laughlin and D'Aquili 1974, Laughlin, et al.
The capacity for symbolism represents an enormous
evolutionary advantage for any intelligent
species. Prior to its appearance, communications
are limited by environmental stimuli in what is
termed a "closed" system (Hockett 1973). In such
circumstances, an organism emits a signal that is
automatically called forth by an external
stimulus. There is no displacement in time or
space, and such calls are generally mutually
exclusive. The information carrying capacity of
the system is thus limited to the number of calls
hard-wired into the organism. With symbolism,
organisms gain the ability to displace their
messages and to combine them in ever more complex
and novel assemblages. Further, they can assign
meanings in complex ways influenced, but not
dictated, by biology. This opens up the realm of
culture, a learned set of patterns for behavior
that are far more malleable than the biological
substrate that made them possible.
While symbolism involves greatly increased freedom
from the constraints of the organism's biological
limitations, this freedom is not absolute. For
humans, the structure of our brain imposes limits
both on the amount of information we can process
at any given time (Miller 1956, Miller 1951), and
on the kinds of information we can process (Ardila
and Ostrosky-Solis 1989, Jerison 1990, Lenneberg
1967, Thompson and Green 1982). There is reason to
believe that similar limitations and perceptual
dispositions would attend any evolving sentience (Gazzaniga
1992, Sauer and MacNair 1983, Stokoe 1989,
Given such an expectation, it seems likely that
sentients who have evolved from a predator
background would differ markedly from sentients
whose gustatory preference run to plants.
PREDATOR INTELLIGENCE MODELS
There are a variety of relations that obtain
between predator and prey. Some predators, such as
the anteater, specialize in a single prey; others,
like the wolf, ingest a wide range of prey, but
most probably fall in the mid-range (Evans and
Schmidt 1990). All predators need strategies to
locate, obtain and consume prey, but the nature of
these strategies can range from the genetically
programmed activities of spiders , to the complex
hunting practices of the !Kung bushmen of the
Kalahari Desert (Lee 1979, Lee 1984, Marshall
1976). In the latter case, intelligence not only
makes it more likely that prey will be obtained,
it also promotes an optimal distribution of
calories and even saving against future need. In
assessing whether or not predators are as likely
as others to develop high intelligence, the answer
is unequivocal PPP they are not less, but more
likely than others to evolve a high intelligence.
This somewhat surprising conclusion results from
an examination of ethological research, as well as
contemplation of the models purporting to describe
factors that promote intelligence.
Recall that intelligence is selected for when it
enables an organism to exploit resources that
would otherwise elude it. This argument holds for
both predators and prey, but, for reasons I will
discuss below, its selective pressure is greater
for predators. Recall also, that complex
environments select for intelligence by creating
conditions where more intelligent competitors have
an advantage in exploiting limited resources
(Evans and Schmidt 1990, Robinson 1990). The
simple fact of the matter is that predators have a
more difficult set of problems to solve and these
involve environmental conditions that are more
complex for the predator than they are for the
prey. Said another way, predators are more
environmentally challenged than prey and this
increases the selective advantage of increased
Prey need to locate resources which, in the case
of herbivores are nicely stationary. Further, they
need to survive the depredations of predators, but
it is not necessary that all individuals need to
endure, to insure the perpetuation of the prey
species. Indeed, many prey adapt to the
competition with predators by becoming more fecund
rather than more elusive.
In contrast, predators must actively solve their
problems including locating prey. As Malthus would
suggest, there are always more prey than
predators, but such prey may prove difficult to
find. To survive, predators must prove more
capable than their prey. The complexity of a
predator's environment not only includes those
elements also encountered by prey, but also the
behavior of the prey itself. It might be argued
that the prey could benefit from being able to
better model the behavior of predators but, given
their higher birth rate and the costs of
intelligence, the selective advantage of
intelligence is actually less for prey than for
As may be imagined, the presumed world view of an
intelligent predator would view other entities in
an extremely utilitarian, probably gustatory,
fashion. There would likely be constraints on
exploitative behaviors, since no intelligent
predator would wish to extirpate a source of
calories, but there is no reason to anticipate
much in the way of inter-sapient altruism. Indeed
should Extraterrestrial visitors prove to be
evolved from a consistent predator base, it seems
likely that their interest in us would, at least
from our perspective, be quite malevolent.
Of course, it may be argued that the assumption of
uniform hostility on the part of Extraterrestrials
descended from predator stock is too simplistic
since it does not incorporate the meliorating
influence of adaptation to social life over a
prolonged period of evolution. My image of
predators also obfuscates the possible role of
culture in reducing an us-them view of the
universe. In fairness, then, we should examine a
wider range of possibilities in which intelligence
can be promoted by a variety of circumstances in
addition to predation.
EVOLUTIONARY SOURCES OF INTELLIGENCE
Tool Use: Since the middle of this century, one of
the classic arguments in anthropology concerning a
probable stimulus for intelligence focused on
early tool use (Oakley 1959). Tool use and,
especially, tool manufacture place a premium on
eye-hand coordination, the ability to visualize a
future result, and other capacities associated
with intelligence (Washburn 1960, Wynn 1988). To
the extent that tool use and tool making represent
an adaptive advantage in a competitive
environment, the qualities on which they depend
will be selected for. It is argued that our
australopithecine forbears, who first used tools,
and Homo habilis, who first constructed tools, set
in motion a positive feedback loop, an ineluctable
chain of events that culminated in Homo sapiens
sapiens. The selection for better eye- hand
coordination and greater intelligence resulted in
organisms that could construct more effective
tools. These tools conferred an even greater
adaptive advantage which, in turn, increased the
selective pressure for better eye-hand
coordination, greater intelligence, and so forth.
Although it is now regarded as unlikely that this
model best accounts for the evolution of human
intellectual capacities (Wynn 1988), it does seems
probable that constructing tools helped to further
human intelligence. It also seems quite possible
that the development of a tool tradition would
have a similar influence on Extraterrestrial life
Interestingly, while the role of tool reliance is
relevant to the development of intelligence, it
seems to tell us nothing about the ethical
implications of that intelligence. Tools can be
used for a variety of purposes, both malignant and
The purpose towards which tools are bent will
depend upon considerations that are essentially
independent of tool manufacture itself. Tool use
means greater efficiency, but it does not suggest
toward what end.
Spatial Behavior: Most evolutionary scenarios for
our hominid past include a prolonged period of
foraging. Except for carnivores, it seems likely
that a lengthy interval of gathering would
characterize many organisms as they evolved toward
higher intelligence. Several anthropologists have
argued that the demands of foraging behavior make
increased intelligence highly adaptive. Foraging
puts a premium on memory and on the ability to
locate and exploit ephemeral resources.
Further, foraging through a defined domain,
emphasizes the ability to estimate the location
and reoccurrence of seasonal resources. One
authority on primate foraging behaviors has argued
that those primates with larger brains also have
larger ranges and more varied diets, suggesting a
causal relationship (Milton 1988).
Whatever the role of foraging in selecting for
intelligence, it seems likely that it would be
only one factor among many. Some system was partly
due to the memory requirements described above and
partly due to a more general need for problem
solving skills. It is thought that there were
selective pressures calling for the mind to make
ever finer discriminations (Iran- Nejad, et al.
The ability to develop accurate cognitive maps of
an organism's territory would confer a variety of
advantages ranging from more reliable resource
exploitation to fewer encounters with dangerous
competitors. However, again, this adaptation would
seem to provide little indication of the ethical
implications of an intelligence derived from such
stimuli. To encounter matters of ethical moment,
we must, almost by definition, look to the social
realm where organisms interact with one another.
Social Behavior: The best argument for the
importance of the social environment in creating
pressure for increased intelligence was advanced
by Alison Jolly (1985), a noted primatologist,
currently at Princeton. Jolly's study of Lemurs
revealed that there were significant, complex,
social problems to be solved in order for an
organism to mate, cooperate with others, and
maintain a viable group status. She argued that
need to adapt to complex social circumstances
selected for intelligence in both males and
females (Jolly 1985). Further, the slow maturation
of young created a situation in which learned
social skills had an early impact on dominance
relations and, later, on mating opportunities. Nor
was this reproductive concern solely one for
males, as it has been shown that dominant females
tend to have more opportunities for mating and a
greater likelihood of raising dominant males.
Several studies have recently supported Jolly's
original contribution and elaborated some of the
mechanisms involved (Lewin 1988). Cheney, working
with vervets found that their adaptive social
behaviors and social learning were significantly
more complex than behaviors related to other tasks
such as foraging (Cheney and Seyfarth 1988). There
is currently general agreement that demands of
social participation are perhaps the most powerful
stimuli for the development of higher
intelligence. Authorities assert that socially
skilled organisms have significant advantages over
others, including a better ability to foresee the
behavior of their competitors (Smith 1984: 69),
and greater skill in constructing and maintaining
profitable alliances (Harcourt 1988).
Portions of this scenario seem foreordained by the
nature of intelligence itself. As noted earlier,
greater intelligence means a prolonged period of
infant dependency, a greater need for a learned
behavioral repertoire, and a general trend for
social living to support the first two. The
complexities of social life, the differential
access to resources, and mating opportunities that
accompany high levels of social skill all place
considerable selective pressure on increased
intelligence and, to some extent sociability.
Ethological studies indicate that any organism
whose behavior puts the group at risk suffers
exclusion, injury and/or a loss of mating
This model would seem to have some utility for
conjecturing about the nature of Extraterrestrial
intelligence and attitudes. It seems likely that
any intelligence that evolves in a social unit
will be affected by the minimal functional
requirements involved in group cooperation and
cohesion. The result will likely be an organism
that has serious constraints on agonistic behavior
and an ability to engage in cooperative endeavors.
This scenario is markedly more hopeful than the
one suggested above for intelligent predators, but
it would still be wise to consider the probable
nature of social behavior, for there are often
marked differences between in-group behavior and
that directed toward outsiders.
MACHIAVELLIAN SOCIAL BEHAVIOR
If this material can be used to project
Extraterrestrial intentions, an examination of
group behavior among monkeys, apes and humans
reveals some rather disquieting social trends.
Indeed, according to recent authorities, the
adumbrated altruism and cooperation that was to
characterize social life appears to have roots in
a rather ominous social calculus. Smith has argued
that the exigencies of social life provide a
powerful stimulus for increased intelligence, the
capacity for symbolism and the ability to abstract
patterns: "...an animal would have to think of
others as having motivations similar to its own,
so that it could foresee their future behavior,
and it would have to communicate symbolically"
(Smith 1984: 69).
However, the question remains as to what end these
abilities are directed, and a recent collection of
essays suggests that Machiavellianism is
...in most cases where uses of social expertise
are apparent, they are precisely what Machiavelli
would have advised! Cooperation is a notable
feature of primate society, but its usual function
is to out-compete rivals for personal gain.
[However,] ...it seems likely that the later
course of human evolution has been characterized
by a much greater emphasis on altruistic uses of
intelligence. (Byrne and Whiten 1988:vi)
Unfortunately, the authors also note that
the weight of evolutionary evidence supports an
argument that our intelligence evolved principally
from "a need for social manipulation." (Ibid.)
Basically, it seems it is in the individual's
interest to take advantage of others, as long as
doing so does not jeopardize social standing,
mating possibilities, and access to resources.
If the nature of in-group dynamics seems a
somewhat unpromising suggestion of what
Extraterrestrial contact might hold, the character
of out-group relations is even less encouraging.
The Nobel laureate, Konrad Lorenz (1963) has
argued that inter-group relations among many
species are characterized by aggression and that
this agonistic behavior has a positive function.
He suggests that intra-group aggression serves as
a spacing mechanism to promote a dispersal of
populations throughout the environment, thereby
facilitating a more efficient utilization of
resources (Ibid.). He notes that such behavior is
particularly true for members of the same species
and for those others that exploit the same
In instances of confrontations between carnivores,
Lorenz believes that there are instinctive
inhibitions on the use of deadly force. He
suggests that these have evolved because
carnivores are too well equipped for damaging each
other. Thus, the result of an aggressive encounter
would probably mean the death or maiming of both
parties. Instead, intra-carnivore contests, rather
than extending to deadly action, are limited to
displays of ferocity. However, herbivores and
omnivores are less well equipped to seriously
injure one another and, as a consequence, are
presumed to lack instinctive checks on the display
of intra-species aggression. Indeed, since both
parties can survive the encounter, it is thought
that intra-species aggression among non-carnivores
may help to select for increased intelligence, as
more intelligent organisms avoid contests they are
apt to lose but initiate ones where they are
likely to win (Cheney and Seyfarth 1988, Harcourt
1988). This would increase mating opportunities
and inclusive fitness.
According to Borgia (1980) who has examined human
aggression as a biological adaptation, individuals
will participate in aggression when it improves
their inclusive fitness relative to other
behaviors in which they could engage. Thus, an
accurate assessment of complex social
circumstances where aggression may be directed
toward others or toward oneself is a highly
adaptive skill, and one that also places an
emphasis on and selects for intelligence.
Intra-species behavior ranges from Machiavellian
to agonistic according to whether the principles
are members of the same or of different groups,
and in consideration of other relevant social
variables. However, inter-species behavior
displays a far narrow set of behaviors. Simply
put, with the exception of some symbiotes, the
record of inter-species behavior is clearly one of
competition and aggression (Byrne and Whiten 1988,
Hinde 1974, Lorenz 1963). It seems that the only
consideration that tempers inter-species
aggression is self-interest. Thus, some predators
limit their kills and increase their territories
in order to preserve the availability of prey
Thus, whether a specie derives its intelligence
from tool use, territorial exploration, an
adaptation to complex social life, or some
combination of the three, there seems to be no
reason to anticipate the evolution of an
intelligence characterized by beneficence. On the
contrary, it would seem that one of the functions
of intelligence is to promote a more efficient
exploitation of the environment, an environment
other organisms, including members of one's own
I confess to having begun the research for this
paper in a mood of optimism, anticipating that
Extraterrestrial intelligences would be at least
as likely to display benevolence as malevolence
since they would have mastered a complex
technology, survived their own evolutionary
challenges, and learned sufficient cooperation to
make high civilization possible. The result of my
research has led to a reevaluation of my original
expectations and, to the extent that these models
are applicable to future encounters with
Extraterrestrials, a much more somber conclusion.
Obviously models such as these, which are grounded
in the particular nature of earth organisms,
especially mammals, cannot presume to anticipate
all possibilities. It is possible, though not
probable, that an Extraterrestrial intelligence
would be telepathic, hive oriented or
significantly different in a variety of ways
(Hanlon and Brown 1989, Wasserman 1989). In such
circumstances, models such as those proposed here
may be assumed to have limited utility. However,
several authorities believe there are good reasons
to anticipate a sentience significantly different
from our own but sharing sufficient
characteristics to enable communication (Raybeck
1992, Sagan 1973, Sagan 1977).
have not argued that a species must be a carnivore
to be a predator. Indeed, some omnivores, such as
ourselves, are truly formidable predators. Neither
have I argued that a species must be exclusively a
predator to be influenced by selective pressures
appropriate for a predatory evolutionary scenario.
However, if predation is a major means of
environmental adaptation, then the presumed result
is a simplistic world view representing a
consistent usP them
dichotomy in which us are fine ... but them are
The assessments of non-predator forms of
intelligence, while more complex and somewhat more
encouraging than the models suggested by a
presumed intelligent predator, still imply a
rather unpromising set of circumstances. As noted
earlier, intra-group behavior among non-predators
seems best characterized by Machiavellianism
rather than by disinterested altruism. As for
inter-group relations the likelihood of violence
seems greatly increased. Still worse is the
prognostication for inter-species violence which
would seem to approximate that suggested by the
models for predator behavior.
If these scenarios seem too pessimistic, we should
recall our own recent history and current state of
affairs. As an omnivore with a rather predatory
past, our treatment of our own species has not
generally been characterized by an enlightened
Slavery, colonialism and inter-ethnic violence
have marked our history and continue to mar our
present. This is not a necessary state of affairs,
as there are societies, such as the Semai, where
war and even interpersonal violence are
effectively unknown (Dentan 1968, Knauft 1987).
However, when humans compete for limited resources
inter-group violence is a common, and often
predictable, response (Ferguson and Farragher
1988, Harrison 1973, Montagu 1968). Indeed,
competition within groups can, in several social
settings, also readily yield agonistic behavior (Chagnon
1983, Meggitt 1977). Thus, it would seem naive to
anticipate better behavior from Extraterrestrials
than we manifest ourselves.
While the speed-of-light limitations on space
travel make it unlikely that any Extraterrestrial
could readily visit us, such things are within the
realm of possibility. The best analogy might be
with early European exploitation of Southeast
Asia. The distance was impressive, communications
haphazard, and the risks great. Nonetheless, a
small European power, Portugal, managed to enslave
populations, devastate property and destroy small
states. It also lead to Portuguese control of the
spice trade, and to Portuguese ascendancy back in
Europe (Hall 1955, Harrison 1968, Swearer 1984).
Despite the rather negative conclusions of this
study, I would not counsel the abandonment of SETI
or any reduction of the current efforts to listen
in on intelligent Extraterrestrial life forms. On
the contrary, I think we would be well advised to
be as informed as we can concerning the
possibility of other sentients. Indeed, in light
of the behavioral significance of differing
gustatory patterns, I would particularly like to
know what they had for dinner. I would feel much
more comfortable entering into discussions with a
salad- eater than with an entity that derives its
nourishment from higher on the food chain.
Nonetheless, as I have suggested, it is just these
latter entities that we are most apt to encounter.
The potential benefits to be gained from
interstellar communication are too great to be
ignored or avoided. Certainly the listening should
continue but, as I have suggested, the potential
danger of attracting the attention of an
Extraterrestrial sentient is also too great to be
ignored. I would recommend carefully assessing the
location of any future Extraterrestrial
communicants, and gathering whatever information
about them might be possible, prior to
contemplating an active exchange of messages.
Finally, if we do find reason to send forth a
message, I recommend we break with the model
established by Pioneers 10 and 11, which included
a detailed representation of our solar system and
some hints on how to get here. At the minimum, we
should try to avoid including a return address.
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