Interstellar Contact – A Thousand-Year Perspective
A. Tough (1999), JBIS, 52, 324-327
Rapid progress is already being made in space exploration and the scientific search for intelligent life. By the year 3000, humankind will likely be sending extraordinarily smart probes and even staffed spaceships to explore nearby stars and planetary systems. Because any other civilizations in our galaxy are likely much older than humankind, their technology likely became capable long ago of exploring their galactic neighbourhood. Their motivation to do so is probably very strong, according to three sets of disciplined speculation: some role-playing exercises; a set of four universal values shared by all civilizations; and Vulpetti’s Conscious-Life Expansion Principle. If other civilizations (or their intelligent probes) are already traveling throughout the galaxy, and if we do the same by the year 3000, it seems highly probable that contact will be made one way or another. Indeed, during the next 1000 years, we may experience contact in various ways (telescopes, probes, or staffed spacecraft) and with various civilizations. Of all the positive events that humanity will experience over the next 1000 years, interstellar contact will likely have the highest impact. Humanity’s major benefits will likely include practical information, answers to major questions, changes in our view of ourselves, and cooperation in joint galactic projects.