The Messengers
Steven Johnson

What if you’re wrong?

That’s my question every time I hear about SETI — we think we’re the top of our evolutionary chain so we will always be the top of the evolutionary chain (or top predator, if you prefer.)

What if that’s not true? How do we put the genie back in the bottle after we’ve told the interstellar equivalent of a saber tooth tiger, hey, we’re over here and we’re helpless?

I don’t want to be the New World. I don’t want to be the established society who finds itself invaded & decimated because somewhere in the dark halls of someone else’s empire, we suddenly became property.

The other assumption is that we’ll recognize a superior form of life because it will be carbon based and an analogue to some terrestial lifeform. What if it’s gaseous or a microbial colony? Even a symbiote like Heinlein’s?

Let’s listen.

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