Stephen Hawking has warned against overexposing human presence to alien civilizations because he fears the aliens might be technologically advanced and could be conquerors who might treat humans as underdogs.
In the science show Stephen Hawking's Favorite Places, the physicist tours the universe while riding a CGI spaceship and flies over a hypothetical exoplanet Gliese 832c — a super-Earth that is 16 light-years away from which alien signals can be traced with the help of advanced radio telescopes.
"One day we might receive a signal from a planet like this, but answering back. Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didn't turn out so well," Hawking said.
Excited Yet Worried Over Aliens
Hawking's statement reflects worry as well as joy about humans inviting aliens to Earth. There is the thrill of meeting them, but concerns come from the fear that aliens could subjugate humans as technology laggards.
The excitement for aliens has been expressed in his support for sending a nanocraft to the closest star system that has an Earth-like planet.
Hawking's comments also bear a strange coincidence with NASA's Europa plans, which include the search for aliens.
The U.S. space agency is planning to hold a press conference on Sept. 26 to announce "some surprising activity" on Europa because of the new images from the Hubble Telescope.
Rationale Of Pessimistic Views
The physicist's pessimistic views about aliens were also expressed in his 2010 Discovery Channel documentary, Stephen Hawking's Universe.
"I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet," said Hawking.
He believes that aliens might be far more advanced than humans and may be nomads looking to conquer new planets in order to build more spaceships.
Hawking's hunch is that between aliens and mankind, the latter will be inferior. He looks back at history to show that the interaction between humans and other less intelligent organisms had been disadvantageous because the advanced civilizations never favored the less advanced.
Hawking's caution to stay away from potential extra-terrestrial races has not found acceptance from everybody.
One of those who disagrees with Hawking is Doug Vakoch, the president of METI International, a research institute dedicated to studying and sending messages from Earth to potential alien civilizations.
The reason cited is the consistent efforts through radio, television and other signals from the side of humans in scouting aliens for almost a century.