I’m glad to see Universe Today‘s review of Michael Michaud’s new book Contact with Alien Civilizations: Our Hopes and Fears about Encountering Extraterrestrials (Springer, 2006), since I haven’t gotten to it yet despite a promise early in the year. Those hoping for a thorough analysis of the Drake Equation are in luck, since Michaud evidently tweaks every parameter to see what happens as a result. Many of the issues raised here are things we’ve kicked around on Centauri Dreams, as is apparent in this excerpt from the review:
Are we alone; does the universe revolve around our species; and, is everything in existence for the use of humans? As well, should humans be trying to contact aliens; with what urgency should we start populating outer space; and, how should we react to alien contact? As an example, what would we do if it came to our attention tomorrow that aliens were colonizing Mars? These questions about our actions, our purpose and ourselves serve hopefully, to make the reader delve a little deeper into their own existence.
Interesting question with regard to Mars, and one I’ve heard raised about interstellar nano-probes that might be considered a threat by any species becoming aware of their entry into an exoplanetary system. Clearly, issues of philosophy are engaged by any species contact scenario, with the problem that our only historical references all involve human behaviors that are inevitably generalized to predict how aliens will act. As I’m behind in my reading (a major understatement), I’d appreciate any thoughts from readers on what Michaud has to say.