Would ETI Eat Humans?

John W. Traphagan

Katie Blaire

In my class on SETI at the University of Texas at Austin, my students’ first exam asks them to respond to the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man”.  The episode raises questions about the dangers of potential contact with extraterrestrials and our capacity to understand their motivations.  The phrase “To Serve Man” can be read two ways: 1) to provide service to humanity, or 2) to provide humanity as a dinner entrée.    I ask students to think about whether or not the scenario in the Twilight Zone episode makes sense and, consequently, whether or not contact with aliens might be dangerous.


Speak like a human to ET


By Morris Jones

Much attention in the METI world is focused on designing codes or languages that could be understood by extraterrestrials. We don’t think they would speak any languages commonly used by humans, so attempts are made to produce something close to a “universal language”. Mathematics heavily influences this process, and with good reason. It’s a more objective reflection of the universe, and taps into rules and laws that would apply to extraterrestrials as much as us. Addition works the same way on Earth and Proxima Centauri. But even the way humans interpret and communicate mathematics is subjective. It’s not only the code and symbolism we use. It could even reflect cognitive processes that could be unique to humans, and not necessarily shared by creatures with different minds.