Monday, September 27, 2010

Earth's Envoy for Extraterrestrial Aliens

This is a funny, tongue-in-cheek opinion piece posted by Luboš Motl on his blog The Reference Frame. Motl is highly opinionated, so some may be offended, but he makes a point worth considering about bureaucracy gone wild:
The scientific consensus has convinced our world government - the officials of the United Nations - that one of the most urgent tasks for the humanity is to optimize our communication with the extraterrestrial aliens and the E.T. diplomacy.

Because their arrival is imminent, they may be confused whom they should call if they want to talk to the Earth's humans - much like the U.S. president is confused whom he should talk to if he wants to talk to Europe.

While the situation in Europe is remaining confusing and the holy mission of the "nice" people to create a unified dictatorship on the Old Continent hasn't yet succeeded, the United Nations have apparently made much more progress.

The woman who has already worked as the Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) in Vienna - but this office wasn't yet "good enough" - is Ms Mazlan Othman, Malaysian girl who dreamed about becoming a physician. But after 100+ years of the existence of a school, she was given the first female physics PhD in Otago, whatever the place is, once the female reproductive organs became popular and worth rewarding over there. This achievement of hers, which unfortunately remained completely unmatched by her publication record, made her qualified to be employed in the modest job of the mankind's ambassador to the rest of the Universe; she will unfortunately not be sent to her new target country yet. ;-)
I'm afraid that those awaiting the "imminent" arrival of extraterrestrials will have a rather long wait... something between billions of years and never. I would guess that it is more likely that earth will be visited millions of years from now by long-forgotten descendants of today's Earth-originated robots than by any carbon-based extraterrestrial. Space is just too big for "casual visits". We are living in a vast and empty space. We aren't the centre of anything. But people keep thinking they are "important" and expect ambassadors of far flung alien empires to come courting. It ain't gonna happen!

Go read the full post by Luboš Motl to get his take on extraterrestrials. I understand Motl's frustration with the cost, the waste, and the ineffectualness of the UN. But I differ from Motl. He is a radical libertarian who hates government. I happen to believe that government is a tool -- an imperfect one -- that we wield to shape a civil society. If you think there is a purpose to having a local government, to having a state/regional government, and a national government, it should be a no-brainer to see a need for an international government. But Motl is hostile to the idea. I would say that he is irrationally hostile. He is a brilliant guy, but he has a severe case of ideology, the libertarian brand, that makes him hostile to social institutions. I'm willing to agree with his frustrations about inept government and overly-repressive governments, but you don't abandon a tool just because it fails you before you master it.

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