Protocols for Encounter with Extraterrestrials: Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic

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J. W. Traphagan et al. (2020), JBIS, 73, pp.234-238

Refcode: 2020.73.234
Keywords: SETI, Covid-19, Pandemic, Risk, Cultural diversity

Abstract:
This paper explores lessons evident from the Covid-19 pandemic as a framework for thinking about contact with extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI). The Covid-19 pandemic represents an opportunity to think through challenges that may arise in response to contact with ETI in part because it represents a potential threat to the entire population of Earth, thus forcing nations to implement similar measures, even if the specifics of those measures and levels of restrictions vary from one country to another. We argue that contact with ETI will not occur in a political and ideational vacuum. It will occur within an historical context and diverse cultural contexts from which people will interpret the import and risks associated with a contact event. Just as local conditions are influencing the response to Covid-19, governments and political leaders will draw on localized cultural and social conditions as they conduct risk assessments related to ETI contact and consider the value associated with managing or controlling the context and potential outcomes of a contact event. Thinking about how governments, in particular, respond to events like the Coronavirus pandemic represents an opportunity to explore how other potential existential threats to global society like contact with ETI might pan out.

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