Questions we must answer before our ‘close encounter’

Space Science

The “Are We Alone?” approach has dominated conversations about discovering extraterrestrial life. One anthropologist says we aren’t thinking enough about how the discovery will affect others around the globe, or even how it will affect the lifeforms we meet.

In Meghan Bartels’ article “Before we find aliens, humans need to figure ourselves out” on, some of the internal puzzles we have to solve are described in an interview with anthropologist Kathryn Denning.

Among the questions:

  • How will we announce the discovery of extra-terrestrial life?
  • How will different communities react to the news?
  • How do we include all of humanity in responding?
  • How should we protect life?
  • What should we do to ensure life is not exploited?

Denning also emphasizes the need to reevaluate these answers occasionally as circumstances change.

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