Dumbest Alien Invasions

Dumbest Alien Invasions

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This episode is sponsored by Audible. It seems like in most alien invasions of Earth   in scifi the invaders have pretty dumb reasons  for invading, but does that mean Earth is safe   because there are no good reasons to invade us, or  just that we’re not being sufficiently creative?   Welcome back to our Alien Civilizations  series here on Science & Futurism with   Isaac Arthur for another Sci-fi Sunday on  SFIA, and I am your aforementioned host,   Isaac Arthur. On our Scifi Sunday episodes, we  try to relax our scientific rigor and try to   look at concepts in science fiction and see  how realistic they are, or for that matter,   how unrealistic they are, and when it comes to  alien invasions of Earth, there are sort of a   champion of unrealistic sci-fi, right up there  with fighting giant monstrous Kaiju in equally   giant robot mecha or fighting off zombie hoards,  both of which are often alien invasion scenarios   too. The invasions often seem dumb. Both how they  happen and why they are done in the first place.   The motivations and goals for the aliens to invade  often seem incredibly stupid and when it comes to   tactics and strategy during the invasion they  often seem to ignore the First Rule of Warfare,   and indeed, so too do the defenders. So, I thought we’d spend today discussing   the dumbest alien invasions of fiction, and why  they’re strategically and scientifically flawed,   as well as some examples of better reasons  and methods. So, grab a drink and a snack,   smash thoses like and subscribe  buttons, and let’s get started!   Now we need to acknowledge from the outset that  the reasons for most alien invasions are actually   just to set up the plot of a film and frequently  the writers care about the motivations for the   invasions only to the degree needed to allow  the audience to suspend disbelief for the story.  

And there are tons of excellent movies that are  guilty of this, for instance my own favorite film,   Blade Runner, is all about a man chasing after  rogue android equivalents and it rather ignores   that there’s no reason you wouldn’t have  installed a tracking chip into them in   the first place to avoid this and contemplate  obvious contingencies for how that might fail.   This applies to artificial intelligence films too,  machine rebellions, which are often near-identical   to alien invasion films. We don’t really  worry too much about why the AI rebelled,   why that wasn’t foreseen in advance, or why it  wants us all dead now. Of course those stories   often are designed to show a failing in mankind,  how we brought it on our own heads and must learn   to do better in the future. Which takes us to  our first example of stupid reasons to invade:   #1 Divine Judgment At least as far back as the film the Day   the Earth Stood Still we get examples of aliens  appearing to chastise us for our violent ways.   Or even threatening to invade if we don’t learn to  be more peaceful. Humanity is warlike and a threat  

to itself and eventually a peaceful galaxy, so  we’re going to invade Earth preemptively. Now this   isn’t really a dumb reason to invade, just kinda  hypocritical, which doesn’t make it implausible.   The flaw is that it is assuming any species is  likely to claw its way up Darwin’s Ladder without   being fairly good at violence and that we would  be exceptional in this regard. It would seem more   reasonable to assume nearly every civilization  that invents rockets to get to space also thought   about how handy they were for dropping bombs on  their enemies, and peaceful civilizaitons come   about with reason and experience because war  is expensive on resources, lives, and sanity,   civilizations that value those will tend to  prefer to avoid wars when reasonably possible.   So the aliens might show up to make us more  peaceful, but probably just by saying “Hey, it’s   great to meet you guys, welcome to the galactic  stage. Our philosophy is that it’s good to own   enormous space cannons and be experts in their  use, but basically never need to use them in favor   of peaceful reasoned arbitration and friendship.  We figured you might want some help at achieving  

the latter before you achieved the former,  rather than the other way around.” And we’d   probably reply that we were open to that though  promise nothing since we don't really know these   strangers from afar yet. And the same pretty much  applies to the reboot version of that film with   Keanu Reeves where it's all about our environment  and how badly we treat it, only there the aliens   wreck our power grid rather than just offering  us the technologies and techniques they have for   cleaner power production and overall living. This is because these stories are just using   the aliens as Divine Judgment, and the plot isn’t  about them fixing the problem it's about humanity   getting what its got coming to it - in the  writer’s opinion anyway - or narrowly avoiding   that doom as the entity is merciful and grants  a stay of execution or outright forgiveness.   Obviously if a real civilization acted that way  they’d be open to getting called out for that   sort of behavior but they might not care. We  also need to keep in mind that clever players  

don’t show all their cards or pieces and display  the ones they do with the intent of having you   draw a false conclusion. That is the first rule of  Warfare after all, “If the Enemy appears to being   doing something incredibly stupid or illogical,  assume there is a good chance they aren’t”.   An invader has no requirement to explain  their motivations nor to be honest if they do,   and blaming the folks you’re invading  is a common approach historically.   Nonetheless, invading another world for the  purpose of punishing or reforming its citizens   might seem like a dumb reason for doing it, but  unlike most of examples today, it is one that’s   in the eye of the beholder as opposed to simply  illogical as a strategy. The galaxy isn’t likely  

to offer us black and white cases of morality  either, they may invade other worlds to eliminate   competition because they are morally opposed  to genocide of intelligent entities or wiping   out unique ecosystems or both. So they conquer  or quarantine rather than eliminate. They might   have ethics, just not enough of them in certain  regards, humanity’s history certainly shows the   frequency of that too. Or it might be seen as  a lesser evil in the pursuit of a nobler goal,   maybe they need our world as a strategic  outpost or burn it to deny it to a voracious   galaxy wide threat. They have reasons that make  sense, but amount to us as collateral damage.   Admittedly, many of the individual  reasons in scifi aren’t that great,   like Thanos in the MCU wanting to eliminate  half the population of the Universe to   deal with overpopulation. In the original  comics he’s just a death-obsessed nihilist,   and maybe in future films this will turnout to be  some strategy for dealing with Celestials hatching   out of inhabited planets. However, just killing  half the people to deal with overpopulation then  

blowing up the stones so no one can undo it, or  redo it a couple generations later if the problem   reoccurs, is rather dumb, as tons of videos  on youtube have explained in detail already.   What isn’t dumb though was Thanos invading  Earth. Virtually every Infinity Stone was   either on Earth or had some Earth-involved or  originated character handling it, so out of all   the trillions of planets out there, conquering  or pulverizing Earth was definitely a good idea,   even if it was to advance a goal that made  precious little sense. You invade Earth because  

Earth seems to have some precious resource  unique to it, or atypically abundant to it,   which takes us to our next category. #2 - There’s gold in them there Earth Hills!   Picking on L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth,  either the 1982 novel or the 2000 film starring   John Travolta, is like shooting fish out of a  cannon barrel, as both provide a lot of cannon   fodder for criticism, but in that film, we see an  alien race that invades Earth because they want   our gold. Unfortunately for them, they come from  a world whose atmospheric content is so volatile   to radiation that it explodes when exposed to  even elevated Earth Background radiation and   eventually, they are defeated when a nuclear  bomb is teleported to their homeworld and the   whole planet explodes from the radiation released  from the explosion. The book handles this better  

than the film but both have this plot point. There’s a lot of criticism to make against   the plot and details in Battlefield Earth.  For one thing, there should be no planets   without background radiation, so even if  there was a chemical that could explode   that violently when exposed to radiation, it  shouldn’t be naturally occurring in quantity   on any world. That ending would have worked  a lot better if they instead wanted uranium,  

which is even more rare than gold in our solar  system, especially enriched uranium, and if   someone slipped a nuclear bomb into the uranium  mining shipments back to their vaults on their   homeworld it would be a little more plausible that  it might have blown up their whole planet. Uranium   is actually a lot more abundant in Earth’s crust  than gold too, and decays on geological timelines,   so we might plausibly imagine aliens having  little left on their ancient homeworld, and   they therefore view Earth as a nice source of it. However, my objection isn’t to them wanting gold   rather than uranium or any other material. There  are a number of materials that are scarce and   valuable, and there’s nothing implausible about  aliens willing to go to war for them. Many might   be more valuable than gold to a technological  civilization, or at least as valuable,   but gold has more value than simply as jewelry  or shiny coins. It just wouldn’t seem Earth   would contain something unique, like those  Infinity Stones from the MCU, natural elements   and minerals should be fairly universal  if not necessarily homogeneously spread.  

Still, there’s nothing implausible  about aliens seizing resources by force,   or us losing that fight against some ancient  interstellar empire, able to draw on vast   resources and technologies. That’s the first rule  of warfare after all: Might doesn’t make right,   but it sure is handy for winning arguments. Rather, my objection is to the notion that you   would invade Earth, or any other populated planet,  in order to harvest those materials, and that   this would involve any need for ground warfare.  Earth has one of the largest stockpiles of gold   in the solar system, probably coming in sixth  place after the Sun and the various gas giants,   who collectively, probably have tens of thousands  of times more of everything that Earth has,   but even if harvesting it on solid ground is  preferable, why would anyone come to Earth first.  

In all the arguments over whether or  not Pluto is a planet or not, or rather,   whether it should be counted as an equal to one  of the 8 major planets of our solar system. People   tend to forget that there are millions of actual  minor planets in the solar system, not 8 or 9.   When we discovered a ton of other smaller  and distant icy dwarfs, we had to add another   category: Dwarf Planets; and of those, Pluto is  not the largest, and whether or not we should   have kept things classified they way they were,  and just added another dozen or so planets to the   major category, or not, it doesn’t change that  there are still a lot of minor planets, be they   in the asteroid belt or moons or trojans or comets  or scattered disc objects, or in the Kuiper Belt   or Oort Cloud. And if you’ve got interplanetary  or interstellar travel, every single one of  

them is a lot cheaper to mine than Earth is. So, it isn’t that Earth doesn’t have resources,   it's that it is one the last places you would  come to get them. It would just be so much   easier to mine an asteroid, as opposed to hauling  matter up through Earth’s atmosphere and enormous   gravity well, even ignoring that most of those  resources are deep down in our crust and mantle.   Still, rocky inner planets will tend to  be higher in density of heavier elements,   as the closer to your Sun you are, the more  likely that a lot of the hydrogen and helium,   and even oxygen - the three most abundant elements  in the Universe - will have been blown away.  

Of course, another mistake the aliens of  Battlefield Earth made - in the film at   least - was using humans as slave labor for mining  our remaining gold, and using a high-tech teaching   device to dump knowledge directly into the head  of one of those humans. This violates the First   Rule of Warfare: Keep your secrets secret.  Never give your enemy an all-access pass or   library card to your vaults and technologies. And we’ll give the book version of Battlefield   Earth a point for having the alien invaders  be from an empire whose chief species guard   their core mathematics and science of  teleportation so vigorously that they   even have brain implants to make them homicidally  attack anyone who inquires, in order to maintain   their monopoly on that technology. #3 - There’s water in them there oceans  

Now, gold might be an iffy resource for an alien  empire to give preeminence over all others, but it   sure has a claim on being rare and will generally  be more abundant in rocky inner planets than, say,   icy comets. One material that certainly isn’t  more common on Earth than in icy comets is ice   and water. Earth certainly has a lot of it, and  conveniently, it’s up on the surface for easy   access too, compared to all those heavy  metals in the core, it’s much easier to   harvest. Nonetheless, the only places in our solar  system where water is rare are The Sun, our Moon,  

Mercury, and Venus. Even Mars has a decent amount,  and while water is probably hard to come by in the   Inner regions of our Asteroid Belt, out past  that, ice is incredibly common. Indeed, water,   being composed of hydrogen and oxygen, the first  and third most abundant elements in the Universe,   is all over the place. Proportionally,  Earth is actually rather low on it compared  

to most other bodies in the solar system. So, if there’s any substance you wouldn’t   bother invading Earth for, it’s water, yet this is  what happens in the 2013 Film Oblivion, where the   alien invaders are mining Earth for its oceans.  Somewhat amusingly, they were first encountered   near Saturn, whose famous rings are made of  giant floating icebergs, but more importantly,   they want the water for fusion reactors, and  only about 10% of water is made of hydrogen,   the easiest element for fusion, which is also one  of the most abundant materials in the Universe and   on the Planet of Saturn, which has many thousands  of times more hydrogen than Earth does. It is a   reminder though, that even fiction that messes  up its science can still be fun to watch or read,   and critical failures in science are common in  even the greatest science fiction classics.  

Indeed, we even see it with scarcity of water  in Frank Herbert’s legendary Dune series, where,   for some reason, a civilization with casual access  to cheap orbital spaceflight and levitation,   seems to be unable to supply water  to the planet Dune and nobody seems   to really grasp how to make water-efficient  greenhouses or concrete-lined reservoirs.   This isn’t as bad as the alien invaders of  the 2002 film: Signs, starring Mel Gibson,   where it turns out the aliens are as water-soluble  as the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard   of Oz. That’s another example of how films  often lack key things that the books have,   as in L. Frank Baum’s original novel: The Wizard  of Oz, the Wicked Witch carries an umbrella,  

rather than a broomstick, far more indicative and  appropriate given her hydrophobic nature. Now that   book was written in the year 1900, long before  we knew water was hyperabundant in the Universe,   and it was written as a children's novel, so  it's a lot easier to forgive the enemy being   deadly allergic to something as common as water.  Granted, The Wizard of Oz was never meant to be   a tale of space travel anyway. We also see  it in the film: Day of the Triffids, where   carnivorous plants invade Earth but are killed  by seawater. Though to be fair, many plants are.  

Deciding to invade a planet that is literally  covered in vast, deep pools of a substance that   kills you is still a violation of the First  Rule of Warfare: Avoid fighting battles in   places where your enemy has a decisive advantage.  This means you don’t invade planets that are toxic   to you unless you have to, and even then, you  make darned sure your troops are well-equipped   for it. You don’t get in a fist fight with a  fully-equipped fireman inside a burning house,   and you don’t invade the Planet of the Lava  People if your species has gasoline for blood.   You also probably don’t want to be  keeping them for personal slaves   either. Which takes us to our next one. #4 - There’s value in them there humans   A reason sometimes given in fiction for why an  alien armada bothers sending in grounds troops for   us to have firefights with or air-capable vessels  for our fighter jets to dogfight with, rather than   just bombarding us from orbit, is that they want  the planet intact so they can enslave humanity.  

Now, many might imagine an alien would be as  afraid of using robots and artificial intelligence   as we are, however, we are afraid of that because  we think AI might rebel and kill us. It would   seem that if an alien wanted to avoid using robots  because they feared they might one day break their   programming and violently rebel, then enslaving a  naturally intelligent, rebellious, and aggressive   species that rose to the top of its planetary  ecosystem by being inventive and ruthless, and   often inventively ruthless, would not be a smart  strategy. At least the robots don’t start off   wanting you dead and practiced at killing things. Also, the only reason you would ever want   intelligent slaves, as opposed to dumb automated  factory robots, is for their inventinveness and   adaptability, and for handling technology  themselves, with training. Which presumably   means your technology, which violates the first  rule of warfare: Never hand someone a loaded gun   unless you’re sure who they’ll point at it, and  this is even more true if you do know who they   will point it at and that’s you. We don’t want to fool ourselves,   an interstellar civilization capable of reaching  our planet with military force is one that could   easily obliterate us, currently. The sorts of  weapons that would qualify as entry-level on  

any ship able to obtain interstellar speeds for  a large vessel and protect it from relativistic   collisions with space debris are very potent.  Imagine a machine gun that fired nuclear bombs.   That’s essentially the weak end of the spectrum.  And not for some goliath mothership that shadows   cities below, let alone entire planets. Rather,  we would imagine that sort of armament on   something more modest like a lone frigate or  destroyer, or even a non-military freighter.  

The dynamic shifts if, for some reason, they want  to conquer us, because it's sort of inevitable   you get a two-way flow of technology. Folks  tend to wildly over-estimate how mysterious   advanced technology is to those who don’t  know its inner workings, even just seeing   how a piece of technology functions will tend  to lay an easy path to replicating it. So, some   alien occupation force hanging around here for  generations would likely see us mastering their   technology before long. Defending or revolting  forces can often do unexpectedly well, and it’s   often because the other side is constrained with  where and when it feels it can use overwhelming   force. If the answer is everywhere and always,  then there is no reason not to scorch the whole   planet and avoid the whole invasion. They may have  practical or ethical reasons for doing otherwise,  

and again conquest oriented doesn’t necessarily  mean universally unethical or casually genocidal.   So, conquest to use humans, or some other smart  alien critters, is a lot more likely to fail in   the long term, compared to just nuking the planet  till it glows, or sending in wave after wave of   self-replicating murder bots. Alternatively, much  dumber bots will do virtually every task you could   need, and would represent a much smaller rebellion  risk. And if you need talented minds, you can just   breed and raise more of your own, though your own  kids might be just as likely to be rebellious as   aliens. Indeed aliens might be more cooperative  and respectful in some cases. Heck, you can set   up shop in orbit and start a recruiting campaign,  why enslave people if you can just hire them.   Aliens may not view converting a  civilization as all that tricky,   they may view converting a more primitive  civilization to be staunch allies a desirable   goal, and they may be masters of psychology and  brainwashing too. Of course enormous space guns  

can make a great sales pitch. That’s the First  Rule of Warfare after all, the persuasiveness of   your argument is directly proportional to how  much firepower you have to argue your case.   The nature of interstellar travel and non-FTL  time lags tend to ensure that any interstellar   empire is likely to be used-to huge genetic and  cultural divergence between its own colonies and   might not particularly view a conquered  alien race any differently. That’s often   been true of human conquest, and historically,  big empires, for all their many other failings,   frequently are a lot more cosmopolitan. They don’t  need to keep us around as slaves for labor, but   they might be prone to conquering civilizations  and absorbing them, as opposed to wiping them   out. The invading admiral or general might be  from a conquered world themself and yet a true  

believer in their cause. Neighbors in the long  term can be threats, as can vassals, obviously,   but while the latter has more reason to become an  enemy if you mistreat them, they’re easy to keep   an eye on and intervene early with. If you think  you’re good rulers, a well-treated vassal might   seem a safer bet then a sovereign neighbor. They also might value our perspectives. It's a   weird idea for us at the moment, but there  probably is a real limit on technological   progress. We are predisposed to think of science  as some ever-expanding art with new mysteries all   the time, but this is mostly poetic. There’s no  real indication that the Universe has infinite  

rules, quite to the contrary, and speaking as a  physicist, while we make new discoveries all the   time, our understanding of the core fundamental  physical laws haven’t changed much in nearly a   century. It is entirely plausible that we’ll  have finished figuring out the core physical   laws of the Universe in another century or two  and be hitting a point of diminishing returns   on scientific progress within a millenia, which,  barring faster than light/FTL travel, is about   as soon as we could plausibly expect to reach  any planets with other past or present native   civilizations even under the most optimistic  models for how often intelligent life may occur.   It seems almost heretical to predict an end to  new science but if there is one it’s probably   not too far off in the future, in galactic  timelines. Odds are good aliens have basically  

maxed out their physics and production technology  before ever meeting another alien civilization.   So, you’re probably not looking for new worlds  for new core physical science - but for biology,   geology, psychology, and so on, there’s likely  to be a lot of new material for those fields,   which we’ll return to in a minute. Rather, if  science is fairly maxed-out in your civilization,   that strongly implies you are very skilled  with automation and very good at generating   power and using resources efficiently. So to your  civilization a worker is probably someone in the   arts and entertainment, robots do the rest  and very well, and so that’s the workforce   you’re seeking to enslave or convert when you  invade an alien world. The rich hoard you want   from them is likely to be all their literature,  films and games, and the folks who make them,   and that doesn’t really imply a need for  conquest, let alone hyper-violent conquest,   and is certainly not benefited by wiping new  aliens out. Though it raises the question why you   don’t just trade for those resources, given that  you can make copies of great works, especially   digital ones. Though a bullet is cheaper than a  gold coin, especially given that you might not  

need to fire the bullet, just threaten to do so. One of the key things that aliens probably would   value about new planets is their native biology,  intelligent or dumb, animal, vegetable, fungi,   whatever. Probably not for cuisine though.  As another example of awesome classic sci-fi   that also has a very flawed premise, the 1959  Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man” is one of   many stories where it turns out that aliens like  to dine on humans. This can overlap a lot with   the vampire genre of fiction, especially the more  consumptive style of vampires who eat people, not   just look pretty and drink blood without much mess  or lethality. Or it can be more of a Matrix-style   predation where the conquerors use humans as  batteries. Though, the 2009 sci fi horror film:   Daybreakers, does both, with vampires who keep  humanity in matrix-style farms for their blood.  

As a genre, aliens eating humans is usually sci-fi  horror or comedy. Peter Jackson, who gave us the   Lord of the Rings movie adaptations, actually had  his directorial debut in a low-budget film “Bad   Taste” in 1987 where aliens massacre a New Zealand  town for an intergalactic fast food company.   It’s definitely a popular topic for sci-fi but  realistically, this an awful reason to invade.   Even if aliens didn’t have ethical issues eating  intelligent critters - raising them for food is   insanely uneconomical. You want fast-maturing  animals for livestock, because a pig you feed  

grain to every day for half a year to slaughter  at around 100 kilograms is going to be preferable   to a human you have to feed dozens of times  more food over many years for the same meat.   That also leaves out cloning, synthetic meat,  the whole issue of alien biocompatibility,   and any presumption of ethics  inside your own civilization.   That’s a lot of ifs in order to achieve a  goal that is essentially evil for evil’s own   mustache-twirling sake. It also ignores fear of  your neighbors attacking you for pointlessly evil   behavior, space is big and three-dimensional,  so, the longer you’re around and the wider you   spread your tentacles, the more likely  you are to encounter someone who finds   your behavior loathsome and has the guns and  willpower to encourage you to change your mind.   That’s the first rule of warfare, avoid recruiting  for the enemy. It is much easier to imagine   civilizations hurling vast armadas across the  galaxy, even at absurd cost, in order to wipe   out a civilization that enjoys farming intelligent  creatures to eat, even at absurd cost, than it is   to imagine such a civilization actually existing.  With that in mind, it is much easier to imagine  

that if by some quirk, a civilization found  itself literally preying on another out of need,   like the Wraith from Stargate Atlantis, that such  a civilization would expend vast efforts to curing   that need and hiding that they ever had it. For  the ethical, it is a cause for war and invasion,   for the unethical, it is a jugular vein  to exploit, one they can use to drain   you of life just as a vampire would and as  your vampiric species does to its prey.   For the Wraith, or for examples like Galactus,  Eater of Worlds, from Marvel comics, it is usually   said or implied that there’s some quantity of life  energy or even, if they need to eat humans only,   that they’re eating souls. Science doesn’t seem  to indicate those quantities are physically  

available but we don’t know, and we can’t rule  out an alien race believing that was true,   whether it was or wasn’t. So, similarly, we can’t  rule out something preying on us for that. I   don’t recall seeing anyone doing a story on it,  but you could probably explicitly write up an   alien AI race that was able to measure and harvest  souls but be unable to produce them artificially,   so they basically had to prey on civilizations  that way to reproduce. That’s definitely something   I’d think of more as a plot device in fiction than  something realistic or plausible, but the Universe   might surprise us that way, and we examined those  concepts more in our episode: Gods & Monsters.  

And for that matter, the invasion of the  Earth’s territory in the Babylon 5 Franchise   by the ancient and powerful Minbari only came  to a halt when they realized that they were   killing themselves. They believe there are only  so many souls being reborn to repopulate their   species when one of them dies, and that  they had seen a drop off in recent years,   and discovered they were being reborn as  humans and stopped the war. Stealing souls   is scientifically based in that setting too. I  could see that going the other way around, where   you wipe out a world because you think they’re  stealing your souls or maybe you’ve become so   unnatural in your advanced technology you aren't  born with them properly and need to harvest them   from primitive worlds. I’d doubt it but we should  be mindful that there may be unknown aspects   to reality we have yet to discover that would  seriously alter our equations for invasions.  

A recurring theme in a lot of alien invasion  sci-fi is that it is really just a plot device   to have humans fighting aliens, and usually,  they’re pretty thin on contemplation. Like   with the Minbari, they ran into an Earth  Scout Fleet, crippled them with scanning   technology and appeared hostile, and when that  scout fleet fired on them and fled, killing a   great leader of theirs, they declared a war of  genocide. The prequel film, In the Beginning,   which sought to put some light on that war, really  did the franchise disservice in my opinion. Before   that film the war was always portrayed as an  unfortunate but reasonable mistake by a mostly   noble if sometimes overly proud civilization,  which described the Minbari and humans alike,   but the film makes it seem like the  Minbari are vicious, unreasonable lunatics.   Often it’s better to leave some stories  untold as they crumble on examination.  

That’s maybe why we haven’t been conquered,  there really aren’t any good reasons to do   so. Of course, sometimes it’s on accident, like  the original portrayal of the Earth-Minbari War.   Orson Scott Card’s classic: Ender’s Game, and  its various sequels and prequels, introduce us   to an alien hive mind race that unintentionally  invades and murders millions of humans because   it doesn’t realize we’re individuals, as opposed  to minor components of a hive mind. Great story,   but it really falls apart on examination because,  even if you accept the notion that they didn’t   view killing humans as any bigger deal than  trimming our hair or nails, which I should point   out are themselves dead cells already, you don’t  encounter obvious signs of technology - including   spaceships and clearly visible cities with  light and power and just start poking around,   disassembling stuff assuming it has no value,  or no one who values it. And you certainly don’t  

send a second follow-up invasion, like they  did, and pretend your space fleet dueling with   another space fleet leaves you any reason to think  you’re not attacking another intelligent agency,   and hurting it, and trying to take its stuff.  And if that really is something you think is   unethical and don’t want to do, some more planning  and foresight is probably a good idea in your   exploration efforts, in order to avoid engaging  in atrocities and starting wars with people who   now are passionately devoted to wanting you dead. After all, that’s the first rule of warfare: Pick   your Battles wisely. Be smart enough not to start  stupid fights, which neither side really wants.  

We also have to keep in mind that while we  think of space as dark, it isn’t. There’s no   night in space, not many shadows, it isn’t  easy to hide. Stealth in space is hard,   maybe even impossible, especially for conducting  entire wars, not just hiding one ship or missile.   Folks who’ve been around for millions of years  in our galaxy, which was itself billions of   years old before our planet even formed, did not  just find out humanity existed. Our biosignatures  

as an inhabited planet were astronomically visible  long before humanity discovered fire, let alone   radio waves, and signs of intelligence like fire,  are visible from orbit and have been for a long   time. Nobody is just showing up now, because they  just found out we exist, unless they are new too,   and if they are, they have every reason to suspect  that the simple fact, both they and we exist alive   and unconquered in such an ancient galaxy, means  somebody else predates us both and doesn’t approve   of conquest, as they haven’t done it themselves. And even if not in this galaxy, the Universe is   a big place and eventually you are going to be  seen acting hostile to your neighbors, and unless   you want to gamble that there was no one else  before you, which is really unlikely if you’ve   got primitive neighbors close enough to want to  conquer, then you have to assume you are being   watched by others who both don’t approve of your  activities and could be in a position to swing by   to tell you so. And you really, really don’t want  that. That’s the first rule of warfare after all,   don’t start fights with anyone bigger than  you, or even the same size if you can help it.  

So the reality is, I’ve just never heard a  convincing reason for invading an alien planet,   and hopefully that means that there isn’t one,   rather than us just not having thought one  up yet. I’d hate to find out that there is   a good one by having an alien armada  showing up to explain it in person.   So it's time again for our Audible Audiobook of  the Month and on the topic of Alien Invasions   we have no shortage of excellent books, but  our winner this month is “Shards of Earth”   by Adrian Tchailovksy, the first book in  his scifi series the Final Architecture,   that contemplates the aftermath and mystery  of an invasion of Earth in an action packed,   immersive, and epic space opera setting that  is all we come to expect from one of scifi and   fantasy’s emerging new leaders. It’s an amazing  space opera and Shards of Earth and all of his   other novels are available on Audible, as are  the other authors we mentioned today. Audible has   thousands of audiobooks available and literally  centuries worth of content for you to pick from,   and more being added every day faster  than you could listen to all of it.   But they don’t just have audiobooks,  they also have many excellent podcasts,   such as Science & Futurism with Isaac Arthur,  where we have every single episode on Youtube,   plus several audio-only exclusives I’ve made  over the years. That’s just some of the great  

content in the Audible Plus Catalog, which  also has sleep & meditation tracks available,   as well as guided fitness programs, and Audible  Original’s like Space: 1969, a retro sci-fi comedy   adventure that has to be heard to be believed. The whole Audible Plus Catalog full of free books   and other content, comes as a bonus when you  join Audible, in addition to your usual 1 free   audiobook each month and big member discounts on  additional ones, and as always, new members can   try Audible for free for the first month, just go  to Audible.com/isaac, or text isaac to 500-500.   So we were talking about possible doomsday  technologies in our regular Thursday episode   The Fermi Paradox: Technological Timebombs,  and one example of that would be a technology   that literally wipes your civilization out  backwards in time, and we will be exploring   that and other dangerous and weaponized uses of  Time Travel in this week’s episode, and how those   function inside of various temporal models like  alternate timelines. The week after that we’ll  

ask what humanity’s first space settlement will be  like, and where it will be: in orbit, on the Moon   or Mars or somewhere else. Then we’ll close the  month out with our Livestream Q&A on Sunday August   28th at 4pm Eastern time, where we take your  questions from the chat and answer them live.   If you want alerts when those and other episodes  come out, don’t forget to subscribe to the channel   and hit the notifications bell. And if you  enjoyed today’s episode, and would like  

help support future episodes, please visit our  website, Isaac Arthur.net, for ways to donate,   or become a show patron over at Patreon. Those  and other options, like our awesome social   media forums for discussing futuristic concepts,  can be found in the links in the description.   Until next time, thanks for  watching, and have a great week!I

2022-08-19 01:14

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