Role Will It Play in Our Future?
important is extraterrestrial intelligence? How diverse? Is it helpful,
benign, or hostile? What are its capacities? How should we respond?
What will be the long-term consequences of contact? Can life and
intelligence survive forever?
are my thoughts on those questions.
recent years scientists and the general public have realized that
intelligent life may well be found throughout the universe. We are
probably not the only civilization in our galaxy; it may even contain
dozens or hundreds of civilizations scattered among its 400,000,000,000
stars. If we receive a richly detailed message from one of these
civilizations or have some other form of contact with it, the effects
on our civilization could be pervasive and profound.
search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) has now become reasonably mainstream
within the scientific enterprise (Angelo, 1985; McDonough, 1987).
Radio astronomy's efforts to detect a signal or message from another
civilization are increasing rapidly. Cosmology may be shifting toward
emphasizing life throughout the universe, not just stars and sterile
dust (Dick, 1988). Gallup polls find that 50% of adults believe
there is intelligent life beyond the earth.
in the future of human civilization, contact or interaction with intelligent life
from somewhere else in our galaxy will probably occur. It might
occur next year, for instance, or 100 years from now. Our rapidly
increasing efforts make contact particularly likely within the next
20 or 30 years. Few events in the entire sweep of human history
would be as significant and far-reaching, affecting our deepest
beliefs about the nature of the universe, our place in it, and what
lies ahead for human civilization. Seeking contact and preparing
for successful interaction should be one of the top priorities on
our civilization's current agenda.
Importance of Intelligent Life in the Universe
study of the physical universe is very important. At the same time, many people who study cosmic
evolution and cosmology are realizing that the evolution of life
and intelligence throughout that physical universe is at least as
important. Steven Dick (1988) has outlined a biophysical cosmology
that emphasizes life and intelligence as key components of the universe,
thus redefining our place and significance in that universe. Chaisson
(1987), Harrison (1981), and Sagan (1980) have also emphasized the
importance of intelligent life throughout the universe.
is not a new idea, of course. The extraterrestrial life debate over the last 2400 years
has been documented by Crowe (1986) and Dick (1982). My own interest
was sparked in 1963 when I heard a lecture by pioneer Harlow Shapley
and read his book The View from a Distant Star (1963).
astronomers, biologists, philosophers, and others now believe that the
existence of diverse life throughout the universe is a supreme value.
That is, in the entire universe, nothing is of greater value, importance,
or significance than advanced civilizations and intelligent species_including
our own, of course. If asked, "What thing or idea is more important
or valuable than diverse life throughout the universe, including
human civilization?" many people would reply, "Nothing;
human and other intelligent life is the most important thing in
a similar answer will be given by human beings 100 or 1000 years from now, especially
if interaction with advanced extraterrestrials has occurred by then.
Advanced extraterrestrials themselves might also give a similar
is important to note that there is no conflict between a belief in a divine or supernatural
God and a belief that advanced life is the most important thing
in the universe. God might well have created and nourished a diversity
of life throughout the universe. Indeed, God's own supreme value
might well be this diversity of flourishing life. Let me emphasize
that human civilization, at present and in the future, is a significant
part of all life in the universe. For us, long-continuing human
life is a supreme value of ultimate importance. Because we do not
yet, as far as we know, have contact with extraterrestrial life,
our top priority at present must be our own civilization. At the
same time, however, we should continue and enlarge our present efforts
to make successful contact with intelligent life from some other
part of this galaxy.
fundamental importance of intelligent life in the universe can be confirmed by some of
the thought-provoking mental exercises in chapter 2. For instance,
imagine that you are in some distant galaxy, viewing our entire
universe over many eons. From this perspective, what is of supreme
importance? To me, it seems most important that humankind and most
other advanced species throughout the universe continue to survive
and flourish and develop.
some sort of grand project is underway to spread highly positive life (marked by love,
compassion, cooperation, wisdom, intelligence, knowledge, harmony,
and effectiveness) throughout the universe. We cannot contribute
much at present to the flourishing of extraterrestrial species but
we can choose a flourishing future for our own human species as
one of our fundamental priorities. As Carl Sagan concluded in his
Cosmos television series, "Our obligation to survive and flourish
is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and
vast, from which we spring."
widespread and how diverse is the intelligent life that has evolved in
various places in our galaxy?
enormous amount of scientific literature has been written about these two questions.
We are thinking here of naturally evolved (not divine or supernatural)
species that have reached at least our level of intelligence, insight,
knowledge, and culture. Among scientists who have studied the question,
the general consensus is that many intelligent species have developed
throughout our galaxy at one time or another, and some of them may
still be alive today.
is a summary of the four main reasons supporting the likelihood
that at least a few intelligent species have evolved in our galaxy
somewhere beyond our solar system.
The number of stars in our Milky
Way galaxy (about 400,000,000,000) is so large that it is almost beyond our
imagination. A fair number of these stars probably have planets
that are potentially hospitable for the development of life.
here on earth, ranging from microbes and moss
to trees and people, suggests a pervasive natural tendency for life
to spring up and spread. Similar tendencies and processes presumably
pervade the universe, as do similar chemical and biological principles.
The laws of nature are universal and nature is generally uniform.
There is no reason to suppose that our planet is the only place
suitable for life in the entire universe. Given the right conditions,
life will develop on any suitable planets or their satellites. Therefore,
life has probably arisen in various places in our galaxy.
Rudimentary communication, social
organization, tools, and intelligence have arisen independently
in several species on earth. At least one of these accomplishments
can be found among chimpanzees, gorillas, dolphins, whales, dogs,
cats, and horses, for example. It does not seem farfetched, then,
to assume that such characteristics have arisen over time on other
An extraordinarily advanced species
in another galaxy might have figured out a way to cross the gap
between their galaxy and ours. Although this seems impossible to
us within our present understanding of physics, that understanding
might someday be modified or transcended.
Several patterns of evolution, dispersion,
and organization of advanced civilizations are possible in our
galaxy. Perhaps a single civilization long ago produced several
settlements that then evolved independently and became widely dispersed
in the galaxy. Perhaps many species have independently developed
intelligent civilizations on various planets and are still alive,
either communicating and interacting with others or not. Perhaps
a single civilization or federation has conquered or even eliminated
all other civilizations except ours. Perhaps most intelligent species
have voluntarily merged their cultures or genes, thus becoming in
effect a single culture or species with internal diversity. We have
to be careful not to assume that we know which of these possibilities
is the actual case: none are so implausible, absurd, or illogical
that they should be crossed off the list of possibilities.
must also keep in mind that some
of the intelligent life in our galaxy may be deeply alien to us. Their
thinking patterns, knowledge, emotions, bodies, perception, social
organization, communication, and norms may be even stranger than
our strangest science fiction images. Some intelligent beings in
our universe could turn out to be silicon-based entities or supercomputers.
may not be pure fiction to imagine intelligent life evolving even further, as it does in
2010 by Arthur C. Clarke (1982). One species in that novel, beginning
as flesh and blood, eventually learned to transfer their brains
and then their thoughts into shiny new homes of metal and plastic.
Then they learned "to store knowledge in the structure of space
itself, and to preserve their thoughts for eternity in frozen lattices
of light. They could become creatures of radiation, free at last
from the tyranny of matter. Into pure energy, therefore, they presently
transformed themselves. They could rove at will among the stars
and sink like a subtle mist through the very interstices of space"
Benign, or Hostile?
at least one form of advanced life somewhere in the universe is aware of us, what
will their aims and behavior be toward us? Will they be helpful,
benign, or hostile?
order to wrestle with this question, I used a combination of four
methods (Tough, 1986).
One method was an extensive search
of potentially relevant literature, located through abstracts
in three fields (astronomy and astrophysics, aerospace, and physics)
and through nine other bibliographic tools.
As any writer does, I spent many days thinking
about the various issues and possibilities.
When alone in my home,
I held two lengthy tape-recorded mock meetings in which a variety
of advanced extraterrestrials expressed their views on how to relate
to fledgling civilizations, particularly humankind. The purpose
of these two mental exercises was to empathetically generate ideas
about extraterrestrial aims and behavior. Although I spontaneously
created the various voices and views myself in a normal state of
consciousness, a surprising diversity of views arose on some of
the issues because each view triggered another view. In 1988 I briefly
repeated this exercise twice.
In two classes at the University
of Toronto, I conducted a tape-recorded meeting in which all the people
present played the role of advanced extraterrestrials. A printed
agenda focused the discussion on several major questions about helping
the fledgling human civilization.
concluded that most or all of the advanced civilizations in the
universe avoid harming fledgling civilizations.
The cardinal principle guiding behavior toward all other civilizations
is probably this: avoid unnecessary harm and interference. Do not
hurt any other civilization, nor hinder their development. If another
civilization is clearly about to break the cardinal rule (through
a powerful attack or through spreading a plague, for instance),
and if this poses a definite and immediate threat to an advanced
species, then it is permissible to intervene powerfully and even
harmfully in order to prevent this. Under any other circumstances,
however, an advanced civilization will probably not interfere harmfully
in the development of another civilization.
are several reasons for concluding that advanced beings are helpful or at least benign,
and are unlikely to harm fledgling civilizations such as ours. Here
are the main reasons:
1. They still recall their own early
history, including their primitive stages, their dark periods, and their
follies; therefore, they may feel sympathetic toward our foibles.
Anyone bent on capturing our planet would have done so long ago, before we despoiled it so much.
Any hostile civilization with advanced
technology would have programmed its robot Replicator probes
to eliminate any potential civilization long before reaching the
stage at which it could attack the Replicator; that is, long before
our present stage (O'Neill, 198l, p. 265).
Advanced civilizations are probably
letting us develop freely, without interference,
in order to maximize the amount of information they gain; if they
interfere and control us, they will learn less (Kuiper and Morris,
1977). Their greatest gain from us may be sociological and anthropological
knowledge about our culture and civilization.
Intelligent life forms that are
destructively aggressive and irresponsible will usually eliminate themselves
or revert back to primitive conditions before they achieve interstellar
communication or travel (Harrison, 198l). If a ruthlessly hostile
species manages to avoid these usual consequences of natural selection,
and then prepares for interstellar communication or travel, it may
well be terminated by more advanced beings in the galaxy. "How
this is done is a matter of more than academic interest to the human
race in the next few centuries," adds Harrison, wryly (pp.
much help will they give us? Will they bother transmitting an encyclopedic radio message to
us, for example, or send detailed information to us by means of
a spacecraft controlled by computers and robots or by live beings?
advanced civilizations may decide to send us no help or information at all. Others may adopt
a low-budget approach. Particularly generous and altruistic civilizations
may do a great deal to foster a rich diversity of good, wise, intelligent,
compassionate, harmonious life throughout their region of the universe.
Even the most generous civilizations, though, will not put this
goal ahead of the survival and development of their own culture.
Indeed, if humanity blunders, deteriorates, and even becomes extinct,
no other civilization will mourn this as the worst possible tragedy.
They might be about as upset as humanity would be if all whales
became extinct or if an earthquake sent Toronto to the bottom of
other civilizations in our galaxy are probably much older than human civilization.
factors support this assumption. First, the vast majority of stars in our galaxy are much older
than our sun, many of them millions of years older. It follows,
then, that any civilizations on planets revolving around those stars
likely arose much earlier than our own civilization did. Second,
it seems quite possible that some civilizations survive for a million
years or even longer. If the civilizations in our galaxy range in
age from a few thousand years up to a million years old, then we
are one of the youngest: by most definitions, human civilization
is not much more than 10,000 years old. Indeed, thinking of ourselves
for a moment as a species rather than as a civilization, we realize
that several species on earth are 300,000,000 years older than we
are (Calder, 1983).
other civilizations in our galaxy are thousands of years older than human civilization,
they have probably advanced in certain ways beyond our present level
of development. Some civilizations presumably fail to survive once
they discover nuclear weapons or other means of extinction, but
surely others learn to cope successfully with this problem and then
survive for a very long time. Some of them may be 100,000 years
or even millions of years more advanced than we are.
cannot at present be certain about the particular capacities of highly advanced civilizations
in our galaxy. We can, however, make some thoughtful guesses based
on established human knowledge (such as history and futures studies)
combined with intelligent speculation.
own progress has been very dramatic in several areas of life over the past 10,000
years. If we survive another 10,000 years, it is highly likely that
we will again make dramatic progress in several areas. When we turn
our attention to other civilizations that are 10,000 or even a million
years older than we are, there can be little doubt that some of
them will be far beyond us in their biological, mental, technological,
communication, or travel capacities. Also, because they originated
in bodies, physical environments, and social environments that are
vastly different from ours, their patterns of perceiving, thinking,
and relating may be vastly different from ours.
is highly likely, therefore, that many of the capacities in the following list
have already been developed by one advanced civilization or another
in our galaxy. It is unlikely that any one civilization will have
all of the listed capacities: it is quite probable, though, that
each of these capacities (with one or two exceptions) exists somewhere
in our galaxy. We ourselves will presumably possess many of these
capacities if we continue to develop for another 10,000 years.
virtually unlimited energy (solar, nuclear, etc.)
technology and know-how that are so advanced that they would
appear to us as miraculous
enormously evolved individual brainpower linked with a miniature
the absence of individual and collective behavior that is
violent, destructive, or harmful
loving cooperation, altruism, and compassion combined with
sensible public decision-making
knowledge and wisdom unimaginable to us
excellent control over biological reproduction and evolution
the technological ability to send information, receive information,
and observe across vast distances at the speed of light
extremely rapid, accurate, versatile, and powerful weapons.
a list may strike us as unbelievable when we first read it. Would a human being
10,000 years ago, though, have reacted any differently to a list
of our present capacities? Electricity, airplanes, astronauts, moon-walks,
telescopes, selective breeding, television, microbes, hospitals,
DNA, computers, universities, skyscrapers, nuclear weapons, and
many other aspects of today's world would have been dismissed 10,000
years ago as ridiculous or impossible. That was the time when the
Ice Age ended, humanity's main crops became domesticated, and the
world's first town arose. Pigs, cattle, and horses had not yet been
tamed 10,000 years ago. Weaving, wagon wheels, and writing had not
yet been invented. The Bronze Age and Iron Age had not yet begun.
Stone buildings, philosophy, and science still lay in the future
(Calder, 1983). No wonder the people of that time could not have
anticipated today's capacities. For us, in turn, the actual capacities
of a civilization 10,000 years beyond us will probably make my list
seem unimaginative. Their role in our galaxy could be magnificent
We Can Do
or advice from a highly advanced civilization, or even gaining knowledge about its
characteristics, could be extraordinarily beneficial to humanity.
A great increase in our efforts to achieve successful contact or
interaction would be a very wise investment for us.
an International Astronomical Union colloquium in Hungary, I spelled out 20 possible
strategies that are serious candidates for next steps in such efforts
(Tough, 1988). Three assessments were provided for each strategy:
(1) the likelihood of success if it is given adequate funding and
effort; (2) the magnitude of benefits to human civilization if it
is successful; and (3) the likely payoff from greatly increased
efforts and resources. Here I will simply summarize the strategies
that emerged as particularly high priority. They can be grouped
into three clusters.
first cluster emphasizes strengthening the whole field of study devoted to life in the
universe. This field is usually called bioastronomy, exobiology,
or the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). One very
useful direction is to develop this entire field, its ideas, and
their dissemination. Today this field may be one of the most important
scientific enterprises anywhere in our civilization in the sense
that its potential benefits, impact, and significance are so great.
Although the bioastronomy field has made great progress in the past
15 years, it still lacks its own academic journal, its own annual
international meeting, and its own multi-discipline association.
Another specific need is to study the likely capacities, aims, guiding
principles, projects, help, and methods of advanced extraterrestrials.
(We have to figure out what they are like and what they are doing
before we can detect their messages. Each search strategy is based
on major assumptions, rarely examined in sufficient depth, about
extraterrestrial technology and psychology.) Yet another specific
need is to prepare for contact or interaction that will be successful
and beneficial. In particular, simulate possible scenarios, study
possible consequences, implement arrangements for immediate dissemination
of anomalous data to other SETI scientists, seek international agreement
for activities (including possible replies) following the detection
of a signal, establish an international team to implement this agreement,
and prepare to handle negative possibilities (alien bandits, hostile
warriors, deadly probes, a threatening message). People interested
in futures studies could contribute greatly to these various strategies.
second major cluster of strategies is to search for richly detailed
messages that have been transmitted
from far beyond the solar system. Such messages may be reaching
earth right now. Detecting such a message is certainly a high priority.
Certain civilizations, at least at one stage of their development,
may have broadcast advice, knowledge, techniques, values, ethics,
principles of social and political organization, religious beliefs,
even instructions for building something. Consequently, our society
should continue our efforts to check various possibilities within
the electromagnetic spectrum.
third cluster of strategies focuses on searching the solar system and our own planet.
There are four specific strategies. (a) It is quite possible that
an intelligent civilization has chosen to send some sort of automated
probe to the solar system. The simplest type of probe or sonde (beyond
a fast flyby that is unable to stop) would park or cruise in the
solar system and send data back to its home civilization. In addition,
a more complex probe might be programmed to release a significant
detailed message to any beings who trigger it by approaching it,
by directing certain radio waves or laser beams at it, or by achieving
an advanced state of technology. Creative efforts to detect any
type of probe are clearly high priority. (b) It is also important
to search the solar system for signs of intelligent beings (not
just machines) and their activities. Such beings presumably would
have come here in a spacecraft, perhaps with a propulsion system
that we have not yet discovered. We could search the asteroid belt
and other parts of the solar system for signs of a space station,
space colony, parked spacecraft, mining operation, materials processing
plant, or some other ongoing astroengineering project. Waste heat
could be a sign, for instance, and infrared data could yield valuable
clues. (c) During the past few decades, many people have claimed
that they have seen an extraterrestrial spacecraft and even its
occupants. Upon investigation, most of these experiences turn out
to be the result of misperception, an inability to distinguish between
fantasy experiences and reality, or even a hoax. There is a chance,
however, that a few of the past or future reports will turn out
to be valid. Some additional effort should therefore be made to
study any promising cases or avenues. (d) We should try to create
and develop arrangements to obtain any potentially useful data from
military, security, intelligence, and other government agencies
in various countries. Such data could include any inexplicable anomalies
that might indicate extraterrestrial surveillance or messages, for
Long-Term Consequences of Contact
encyclopedic radio message, interaction with the intelligent computer in an automated
probe, or some other form of contact with another civilization could
be a highly significant event in our future. It would probably have
an extraordinary and central impact on humanity's subsequent development.
Whether this impact occurs next year or several hundred years from
now, it will likely affect our civilization profoundly at the time
and for several centuries afterwards. Indeed, as we look ahead at
the long-term future of human civilization, we realize that one
of the highest-impact events of all time will probably be contact
with another civilization.
will the specific effects of extraterrestrial messages, interaction, or intervention turn out
to be? This is a common theme in science fiction. Unfortunately,
few nonfiction writers treat the question with much thought or depth.
There are stimulating and useful exceptions, however, such as Angelo
(1985), Michaud (1977), Prytz (1985), Regis (1985), Thatcher (1978),
and hopefully Tough (1990).
us note the most likely long-term consequence if three common hopes and assumptions in the
bioastronomy field turn out to be correct. First, let us assume
that sometime in the next few decades, our first contact with any
extraterrestrial civilization is a detailed radio message that covers
a wide range of topics, something like an encyclopedia. Second,
let us assume that the message is not based on much knowledge about
us; it is not geared specifically to human civilization. Although
this assumption may well be wrong (Tough 1986), it is a common assumption
today in the bioastronomy field. Third, we eventually decode the
message and make the translation freely available to everyone.
sorts of long-term consequences are particularly likely to result: (1) practical information;
(2) new insights about certain major questions; (3) a transformation
in our view of ourselves and our place in the universe; (4) participation
in a joint galactic project. Let us examine each of these in more
We might well receive practical
information and advice that helps our human civilization to survive
and flourish. Possible examples include technology, transportation,
a new form of energy, a new way of producing food or nourishing
ourselves, the importance of halting population growth, more effective
governance and social organization, fresh views on values and ethics,
inspiration to shift direction dramatically in order to achieve
a reasonably positive future. The message might also bring home
to people the importance of eliminating warfare or at least eliminating
weapons of extraordinary destruction. Viewing ourselves from an
extraterrestrial perspective might be very useful in alleviating
our civilization's problems: it "might help us to transcend
our cultural conceits and political divisions and think constructively
about our own global civilization" (Finney, 1986, p. 9).
deep-seated changes will no doubt produce enormous disruption, at least for a short
time. We might suffer from massive culture shock and temporarily
feel inferior or lose our confidence in our own civilization. Disruption
could also occur in the sciences, in business and industry if we
learn about new processes and products, in the legal system if we
move toward cosmic or universal laws, and in the armed forces and
their suppliers if we eliminate the threat of war. Such disruption
will probably be tolerable and short-lived. It is best regarded
as simply the major cost we have to pay for incorporating new knowledge
We might gain new insights, understanding,
and knowledge about major questions that go far beyond ordinary
practical day-to-day matters. Topics in an encyclopedic message
could include astrophysics, the origin and evolution of the universe,
religious questions, the meaning and purpose of life. The message
could include detailed information about the sending civilization,
which might be deeply alien to us, and about its philosophies and
beliefs. Similar information could be provided about several other
civilizations throughout our galaxy, too.
might even receive a body of knowledge accumulated over the past billion years through
contributions by dozens of alien civilizations throughout the galaxy.
"Included in this vast body of knowledge, something we might
call the `galactic heritage,' could be the entire natural and social
histories of numerous species and planets. Also included, perhaps,
would be extensive astrophysical data that extend back countless
millennia, providing accurate insights into the origin and destiny
of the Universe" (Angelo, 1985, p. 23).
sorts of consequences will contact have for our religious ideas and institutions? A
historical survey found that several religions have already incorporated
the idea of extraterrestrial life (Crowe, 1986). Although some preachers
may denounce an extraterrestrial message as the work of the devil
or the Anti-Christ, others will surely embrace it as further evidence
of God's infinite greatness. Both religion and philosophy may be
beneficially stimulated by a message from an advanced civilization.
A richly detailed message from an
alien civilization might transform our view of ourselves and our
place in the universe, even our ultimate destination. We might gain
a much deeper sense of ourselves as part of intelligent life and
evolving culture throughout the universe.
(1977, p. 20) pointed out that "contact would be immensely broadening and deprovincializing. It would be a quantum jump in our awareness of things outside
ourselves. It would change our criteria of what matters. We would
have to think in interstellar, even galactic frames of reference....
We would leave the era of Earth history, and enter an era of cosmic
history. By implying cosmic future, contact might suggest a more
hopeful view of the universe and our fate."
We might eventually play a role
in some joint galactic project in art, science, philosophy, or philanthropy.
Such a project might aim to solve fundamental mysteries of the universe,
help other civilizations develop and flourish, or spread harmonious
intelligent life throughout the galaxy. We could participate in
this project through two-way radio messages, despite the length
of time required for round-trip communication.
(1985, p. 23) has noted that contact "might lead to the development of branches of art and science that simply cannot be undertaken by just one planetary civilization
but rather require joint, multiple-civilization participation across
interstellar distances.... Perhaps the very survival and salvation
of the human race depends on finding ourselves cast in a larger
cosmic role, a role far greater in significance than any human can
is also possible that our culture will be overwhelmed by an advanced alien culture. However,
all terrestrial examples of contact between two cultures have involved
physical contact rather than radio messages. Also, terrestrial contact
has usually involved territorial expansion by the stronger culture.
"If contact has occurred without aggression, the lesser culture
has often survived and even prospered" (Angelo, 1985, p. 27).
We might well adopt portions of the alien culture but avoid being
completely overwhelmed by it.
Life and Intelligence Survive Forever?
we look far enough into the future, we can imagine the end of our physical universe, at least
in any form that would support human life as we know it. We can
imagine the universe expanding forever, becoming colder and colder,
until finally it is completely frozen, quiet, and barren. Alternatively
we can imagine it collapsing inwardly, becoming hotter and hotter,
ending in a "Big Crunch."
life and intelligence somehow survive if the physical universe meets either of these
fates? Intelligent life will have countless billions of years to
advance and change before there is any need to adjust to the various
stages of the "end" of the physical universe. By that
time, at least in some parts of the universe, intelligent life may
have progressed so much that it can figure out how to avoid the
extermination of all life, knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom.
Indeed, Freeman Dyson (1979, 1988) and Michael Michaud (1982) have
already explored some possible ways of achieving this. For instance,
a huge, cooperative, galactic or intergalactic project may find
some method of altering the physical universe (or one portion of
it) in some powerful and massive way that will enable life to continue.
A second possibility is that life itself will change and adapt in
ways that will permit it to continue forever. If it is true "that
life is organization rather than substance, then it makes sense
to imagine life detached from flesh and blood and embodied in networks
of superconducting circuitry or in interstellar dust clouds"
(Dyson, 1988, p. 107). Alternatively, some way may be found to break
out of this universe into another one, either existing parallel
to it or arising subsequent to it. Perhaps the best of our knowledge,
intelligence, consciousness, or life can be transferred to this
the result of the 137 equations presented in his 1979 paper, Dyson
concluded in his 1988 book (p. 117) that science provides a solid
foundation for a philosophy of hope. "I have found a universe
growing without limit in richness and complexity, a universe of
life surviving forever and making itself known to its neighbors
across unimaginable gulfs of space and time."
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Regis, Edward, Jr. 1985. SETI debunked. In Extraterrestrials:
Science and alien intelligence, ed. Edward Regis, Jr., 231-244.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ridpath, Ian. 1987. Messages from the stars: communication and contact
with extraterrestrial life. New York: Harper & Row.
Sagan, Carl. 1980. Cosmos. New York: Random House.
Shapley, Harlow. 1963. The view from a distant star: Man's
future in the universe. New York: Basic.
Thatcher, M. 1978. Cosmic culture shock. Human Behavior 7 (10):
Tough, Allen. 1986. What role will extraterrestrials play in humanity's
future? Interstellar Studies: Journal of the British Interplanetary
Society 39: 491-498.
Tough, Allen. 1988. The next steps: 20 possibilities. In Bioastronomy_The
next steps: Proceedings of the 99th Colloquium of the International
Astronomical Union held in Balaton, Hungary, June 22-27, 1987,
ed. George Marx, 397-404. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Tough, Allen. 1990. A critical examination of factors that might encourage
secrecy. Acta Astronautica 21 (2), 97-102.
Copyright 1991 Allen Tough. All rights reserved. This is a slightly revised version of
chapter 7 from the book Crucial Questions
About the Future by Allen Tough. In the U.S.A., the book was published
in 1991 by University Press of America (Lanham, Maryland); phone
1-800-462-6420 to order a copy. In other countries, the United Kingdom
version of the book (published in 1995 by Adamantine Press Limited)
can be ordered from Central Books, 99 Wallis Rd, London E9 5LN;
telephone 181 986 4854 or fax 181 533 5821.
The email address for Allen Tough is WelcomeETI@aol.com. His fax number is 1-416-444-5538
and his telephone is 1-416-444-3135.