As if the world doesn’t enough problems of its own, it is being reported by two astrophysicists Michael Hippke of the Sonneberg Observatory in Germany and John Learned of the University of Hawaii that an alien message from space could contain malicious data that is designed to wreak havoc on Earth. Such a message would be impossible to “decontaminate with certainty” and could pose an “existential threat.”
According to the bizarre paper the pair released, the extraterrestrial hack will be far more serious than any seen. However, the paper reads more like a thought experiment rather than a serious scholarship ponders over the dangers of receiving these theoretical interstellar missives.
Although, there have been many criticisms on the paper itself, for
Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer from the SETI Institute in an article writes that the researchers have overlooked a number of technical realities that would prevent any space malware from messing up our computers and destroying life as we know it.
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According to him,
“If these nasty aliens are more than 40 light-years away, they won’t know that we have personal computers, let alone which operating system they should target. If they’re more than 80 light-years away, they won’t know that we have computers of any kind. Maybe they’ll try to disable our abacuses.”
In the paper, they have written that malicious communication may have a demoralizing cultural influence and that a longer, more nuanced message could sow confusion and fear, especially if it’s received by amateurs.
However, the three page long paper ends on a positive note, where the researchers suggest that a message from extraterrestrials is likely to be benign but understanding the risks is what’s important.
Source: Washington Post