Astronomer Jill Tarter – who stepped down earlier this week as director of the SETI Institute – said today (May 24, 2012) that she disagrees with those who depict extraterrestrials as angry warriors ready to enslave us, or eat us. In a press release from the SETI Institute, announcing their June 2012 SETIcon, Tarter said:
While Sir Stephen Hawking warned that alien life might try to conquer or colonize Earth, I respectfully disagree. If aliens were able to visit Earth that would mean they would have technological capabilities sophisticated enough not to need slaves, food, or other planets. If aliens were to come here it would be simply to explore.
Considering the age of the universe, we probably wouldn’t be their first extraterrestrial encounter, either.
She pointed to the bumper crop of summer 2012 alien movies, including Men in Black III, Prometheus and Battleship, as:
… great entertainment and metaphors for our own fears, but we should not consider them harbingers of alien visitation.
She said those who favor the idea of angry aliens will have a chance to defend their vision at SETIcon, a public event sponsored by the SETI Institute. The Institute is known for its science-based search for radio signals that would betray the existence of intelligent beings on distant worlds. SETIcon will take place June 22 through 24 in Silicon Valley, California. Tickets are available now. Click here for more.
Bottom line: Former director of the SETI Institute, Jill Tarter, says she does not believe extraterrestrials who come to Earth will be looking to do us harm. Instead, she says, they’ll be here to explore. Tarter says those who stand behind the concept of angry aliens will have a chance to debate with friendly alien folk at SETIcon this summer. SETIcon will take place June 22 through 24, 2012 at the Santa Clara Hyatt Hotel, and will feature a celebrity banquet honoring Jill Tarter.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.