If I were to add a question to Prof. Goodman's discussion with Jill Tarter, I would focus on their conversation about the hypothetical human response to first contact with an extraterrestrial civilization. In particular, I would ask whether first contact would unite or divide humanity? There seems to be some evidence for both sides of the argument. On one hand, if the extraterrestrial civilization is seen as a threat, humanity might come together out of fear and self-defense. On the other hand, the threat of an extraterrestrial civilization might widen fault-lines in human society—like national or class differences—and lead to significant division.
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Hey Andrew, this is actually an absolutely fascinating question, and I agree that I could see both possibilities playing out, although I would hope that if the extraterrestrial civilization is a genuine threat humanity could unite in defense. On the other hand, if they were friendly, I could see nations competing more intensely with each other for access to alien technology and trade, with the wealthy getting the benefits of any technological advances first. I also think it would be interesting to think about if humans were the ones to make first contact with a less developed civilization -- how would we treat them? Would we see them as civilized partners or merely as tools that could be used for labor or soemthing else?