Imagine Trying to Do Business With an Alien When You Need a Bailout

If you could, imagine trying to negotiate with an intelligence that was like a dolphin, except that intelligence had technology and represented a significant power. You want to negotiate for trade, you want to negotiate to establish rules of trade or engagements or mutual needs for security. How would you do it? And how could you ever persuade that intelligence? Where is it weak enough to be persuaded? Where is its weakness? Where is its strength? 

 Life in the Universe » Competition, Influence and the Mental Environment

Others Have Tried Teaching English to Dolphins

try to talk to a dolphin

After the notorious “worst experiment in the world,” John Lilly quit trying to teach English to dolphins but remained open to creative attempts in dolphin-human communications, even through telepathy or music. (Christopher Riley. The Guardian, June 8, 2014. The dolphin who loved me: the Nasa-funded project that went wrong)

Others Have Tried to Imagine Communicating with Aliens

Some researchers sought first to understand other species’ languages rather than to be understood. At the 2018 International Space Development Conference METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) put on a “Language in the Cosmos” workshop asking if a universal grammar among human languages points to a truly “universal” grammar, or if mathematics makes a sound basis for a common language.

In 1974 a message was broadcast from the Arecibo observatory pointed in the direction of a star cluster across the Milky Way. Using binary code to give information about us and our world, the transmission was arrayed in segments that could be laid out graphically. The “Arecibo response” crop circle appeared decades later near another radio telescope at Chilbolton, England, with variations as if describing another species inhabiting another solar system.

communicating with aliens
Images accompanying the Golden Record on Voyager

These and other attempts represent sincere efforts to imagine how to communicate with other species. In each case, the efforts are focused the problem of language. Very often, a benign or neutral intention is presumed of the other species.

Interspecies communication, as these who have contemplated the problem of language learning have seen, will become our destiny. Communication with extraterrestrial species will require, more than overcoming language barriers, understanding how to negotiate as the passage describes–how “to establish rules of trade or engagements or mutual needs for security” and what will need to be known about the strengths and weaknesses not only of the foreign intelligence but also where our own strengths and weaknesses lie.

We can look back at our own human history for examples of similar encounters, when European voyagers set sail to new worlds. Endowed with a mandate from their rulers and with belief in the providence of their God, they moved forth boldly into unknown territories. These intangible assets fortified their approach to the natives, when, after months on the ocean, they who arrived as beggars by hook and by crook were persuasive enough to supplant the indigenous peoples.

How can we then avoid the fate that befell the natives, now in a similar situation, where interlopers arrive with trinkets to persuade us to give up our natural rights and freedoms? That is the situation described in the last post, where we found that we are not the first sentient race to be in such a vulnerable position. This understanding is key. The solution to the problem of interspecies communication is within our grasp if we can understand our own position and the needs of the visitors in the context of the history of events like this that are seen as predictable because familiar.

The dilemma as presented in The Upheaval has an answer found in an analogy for our situation. To see ourselves and our world as self-contained as a vessel out at sea gives us the insight we need to see where we are weak and how at risk for the predations of interstellar pirates. The Ship describes the individual need for self-determination that will be more essential than a dictionary in interspecies communication. It affirms what the Allies of Humanity have emphasized, our need to strengthen our self-sufficiency, unity and discretion if we plan to communicate as equals among intelligent life in the universe.

This is the self-reliance that you must have now, relying not upon your beliefs and ideas, for they can be incorrect and even deceiving. You must rely upon a deeper experience, a greater practical wisdom and a greater discernment of yourself, your crew, your ship and your changing environment.

The Ship
How to communicate without broadcasting into space
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Mary Sagar

Editor on and

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