Was Stephen Hawking right about hostile aliens?

Was Stephen Hawking right about hostile aliens?

The alien from the Alien movie was perfect: cute, clever, and best of all, he was an incorrigible pacifist.

But, unfortunately, scientists are not so sure of the meek disposition of the "current" advanced aliens. The famous physicist Stephen Hawking in his recent interview with “El País” noted that the visit of aliens to us will drive the Earthlings into the skins of the natives of America when Columbus landed on their shores.

“Perhaps advanced aliens lead a nomadic way of life in search of planets on which they can land and conquer there everything that can be colonized”? - reflects Hawking.

You can discuss for a long time on whether there is a “smart life somewhere out there”. Fewer disputes go around the conditions that are necessary for the emergence of not only smart, but also aesthetic life forms. However, judging by the experience of the Earth, intelligence and aggression often live hand in hand.

How did a person’s mental abilities develop?

No one knows exactly how the humanoids managed to achieve such obvious mental maturity today. It is well established that the possibilities of the gray matter of humanoids began to manifest themselves everywhere around 2 million years ago. (Hominin moved to a new level of mental development after the human gene separated from the chimpanzee gene). About 100 thousand years ago, people made an unprecedented leap to the invention of the language. And finally, about 40 thousand years ago, our ancestors invented art.

According to Mark Flinn (Mark Flinn), an anthropologist at the University of Missouri and a researcher of the development of human mental abilities, our brain today is three times the size of the brains of our closest ancestors. People have unprecedented opportunities to think about each other’s thoughts and motives, play social scenarios in their minds and reflect on the past and the future. “It has been said that our brain is the natural result of the evolutionary process. However, its existence sheds light on a number of very specific circumstances of human evolution, ”Flynn argues.

A large amount of gray matter is expensive. According to Flynn, the body spends an enormous amount of calories on the growth and functioning of the brain (up to 50 percent in infancy and childhood). This leads to years of helplessness of a person immediately after birth.

University of Utah evolutionary biologist David Carrier claims that, in essence, babies resemble larvae.

Many anthropologists and Darwinist biologists tried to study the specific circumstances mentioned above and justify the presence of such a large brain. Charles Darwin suggested that perhaps men were building up “brain muscles” to attract women, akin to how a peacock grows a luxurious, eye-catching tail to prove to potential girlfriends that he is a real male. But if our brain was used only to express sexual behavior, then scientists would be able to detect the difference between the mental abilities of men and women. After all, women would not have to attract the opposite sex, and accordingly they would not have to spend so much energy to feed the gray matter, just as the peacock females do not need to spend efforts on growing beautiful shiny feathers (they are matte and gray). However, women are as smart as men.

Social pressure

So the brain of developed aliens is so energy-consuming? It is hard to say. Perhaps the inhabitants of other planets have a more efficient, albeit equally intelligent body. However, if the aliens sent signals into space or built rockets, they would have to bring their mental abilities to a level higher than what is required for simple survival. People went exactly in this way, although scientists still can not understand why. Perhaps the brain was required by man to use tools. But, in fact, chimpanzees also use tools, but complex languages, culture and art do not develop. One provocative theory claims that pathogenic factors are to blame, and our brain is very vulnerable to infections. In 2008, Hungarian researcher Lajos Rózsa wrote about this in his article for the journal “Medical Hypotheses”. Demonstration of the mind may be clear evidence of brain resistance to infections. In the end, if you are smart enough to invent language and art, then you are just as good at fighting brainworms.

Thus, developed aliens could be an excellent target for parasites. As for Flynn and his colleagues, they are leaning in favor of another theory. According to the latter, humanity has shifted to more and more new cycles of brain evolution due to the social nature of hominins.

The hypothesis of environmental dominance and social competition works like this: human ancestors reached a point of development where their communication with each other became the most important factor in their survival and the evolution of their genes. Finding food and shelter was still very important, according to Flynn, but this was no longer the main factor determining evolutionary success. The difference between an intelligent person and, say, a reindeer is that interspecific relations in humans have led to the fastest evolution of the latter. We know for sure that in the herd of caribou there are also social interactions: the males are forced to fight for females, for example. But, all the same, the most important thing for them is not to fall into the hands of predators and find food for themselves. As for the hominins, according to the theory, these external problems have become less important than the ability to unite in groups, empathize and become friends. These factors have become the key to survival. In this purely social context, it has become more important for people to be smart rather than competitive. Each generation became smarter than the previous one and more perfect in building complex social relationships. Here again, a vicious circle - won by those who were smarter than others.

Here is how Flynn speaks about this: “The essence of social competition is its dynamism and creativity. Every time you have to have the best mousetrap. Competition leads to the improvement of the current winning model, since you must always be above the current strategy of the winner. ”

This model seems to be applicable to other smart animals. Dolphins, killer whales and chimpanzees - they all form social groups and depend on the survival of the group. Perhaps the social factor can also be applied to other living organisms on other planets.

Evolution of aggression

The key to this theory is competition. Chimpanzees join together to fight against other chimpanzees. People are also far from the world. So if the alien race became smarter, would aggression be an inevitable part of the process?

Maybe. One can cast doubt on the very existence of an evolution of aggression. According to Karier, fatal battles are possible only in those species where another individual can be either a friend or an enemy. No options.

In his words, you better get away from the battle to live another extra day. Meaning to join the fight appears only when a competitor threatens your life.

The appearance of the system “either friend or enemy” determines the environmental factor. “For example,” says Carrier, “chimpanzees are a particularly militant species. As the primatologist at Harvard University, Richard Wrangham and colleagues, have established, chimpanzee wars arise solely because of the territoriality of this species of monkey. Small groups of food-producing chimpanzees can come into contact with other chimpanzees and kill competitors (especially when outnumbered on the side of the group) to access more resources. However, the deadly fights between males are not inherent in bonobos - another close primate-ancestor of man. Bonobo males stay with their mothers, and this species is less territorial than chimpanzees. In addition, bonobo food groups are more numerous. Perhaps because their food resources are more extensive. So what kind of behavior pattern is inherent in aliens - the bonobo or chimpanzee model? It is hard to say. Researchers find it difficult to answer even the question of whether people are more inclined - towards aggression or towards peace.

According to the opposite theory, aggression was the driving force in the evolution of mankind. The killer monkey hypothesis states that those human ancestors who were more prepared for battle flourished. According to Karier, modern man can form hands into fists, and our closest relatives - primates - cannot do this. Perhaps this configuration of fingers led to a greater degree to the development of manual dexterity, although it cannot be ruled out that the fist is akin to a truncheon. In any case, the ancestors of man began to move on two limbs, their facial bones became stronger and thicker. The reason for this could also be nutrition, but you can’t argue that the facial bones of men are stronger than the women's bones. This suggests that the battles of men with each other were also not excluded. In other words, thick facial bones could serve as a defense against the fist, against this weapon, which became available to man after becoming a two-legged.

Good Aliens

If the mind develops in an environment of social competition, and aggression is a natural result of competition, is it possible to assume that developed aliens can be soft-hearted? Is this the end of ideas about the little cute stranger?

Maybe it's not like that. In the end, the social competition model does not work without grouping. People fought, raised wars, and sometimes killed each other. But, after all, we also formed coalitions, cared for each other, and even built supergroups - nations. According to Carier, “there are two sides of our nature. And one cannot be more real than the other. These two sides are us. ”

“People are unique from the point of view of life on Earth, since we can unite into long-term alliances between groups, and not just separately. Chimpanzees cannot do this, so it’s obvious that aliens may not act in the same way, ”says Flynn. “On planet X, social competition may not always lead to goodwill and creativity of the species. And it will not always allow these intelligent life forms to negotiate with us for mutually beneficial cooperation. ”

On the other hand, chimpanzees do not explore space. Perhaps a civilization that groups in order to reach the stars should be communicative by definition. If this is true, then humanity should be a greater threat to aliens, rather than vice versa. Evidently, evolution has given people a tool to maintain a peaceful existence.

According to Flynn, in the future we may be able to outgrow this model. If we understand why we need a brain, we will be able to rise above the current trends.

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