What do people think about whether or not we should make contact with aliens? Disaster movies and video games aside, I agree with the likes of Hawking that this would be a bad idea if human history is anything to go by. Both in terms of our treatment of each other and those other animals we share Earth with. If another infinitely more advanced civilisation randomly decided to we could we wiped out just like that.
Perhaps we're the cosmic equivalent of ants. No one pays attention to us because we're that insignificant in their eyes.
I like to think that maybe we're the advanced species, the first life to master space travel. Dangerous thinking perhaps, most definitely arrogant, but it does explain why nobody else has contacted us. I assume that most advanced civilizations aren't able to get off their home planet, or if they do, can't get past their immediate solar system. Space is so large, maybe life needs to develop on two different planets for different intelligent species to cross each other.
I hear you. And you may be right, but let me throw this cat into the bag:
Earth is 4.5 billion years old. Life started 3.5 billion years ago. The first apes appeared just 50 million years ago. We went from ape to hominid at about 6 million years ago. And we went from chest-beating, rock-hurling, mud-hutters to space travel in barely 10,000 years.
Let's assume it takes 4.5 billion years on a goldilocks exoplanet with life to reach space travel, like it did on Earth. (Bombshell) The universe is 13.8 billion years old with the first planets being formed around 13 billion years ago. (Head-explosion hand gesture).
So, let's say that 13 .. (err.. screw it, let's give it another 1 billion years) ... 12 billion years ago, thousands of life-supporting planets formed. Now we add 4.5 billion years to get life to space-travel: 12 - 4.5 = 7.5 billion years ago, thousands of aliens started venturing out into space.
Let's come back to Earth for a second. Ok, we've just barely started venturing out to space. We're just dipping our toes in still. In the next 500 years, our technology will be so advanced, nobody on Earth can even guess at it with any accuracy. But I can tell you that at the trajectory it is going, in the next 500 years, we would be fairly space-faring with communities all over the solar system and with technologies similar to today's sci-fi. (I may be falling way short due to lack of imagination, but Elon Musk is already planning million-person cities on Mars ffs).
Back to the thousands of alien planets. It is 7.5 billion years ago from today plus 1000 years and they're experimenting with faster-than-light travel. Now give that civilization an extra billion years to become as advanced as gods and wipe each other out in an epic intergalactic war where they hurl black-holes at each other and turn each other's planets into neutron stars. That is STILL 6.5 billion years ago. Earth does not even exist yet! Trillions of new planets formed during that time and life on those planets has already had a headstart compared to us.
Also, don't forget: the universe is expanding. Back 7.5 billion years ago, the universe was way closer together. So, that would've allowed aliens to interact with each other much easier. They wouldn't even need exotic faster-than-light travel to reach each other. They'd be able to use normal rocket technology and be able to reach like 50 nearby star systems within a few months time. Can you imagine how all this collaboration and sharing of technologies would've helped accelerate their advancement?
Now, with the light from all those billions of years reaching our telescopes today, the universe SHOULD be swarming with detectable signs of life - but it isn't. There's only one explanation: life hasn't spawned on any planet other than our own.
It's more impossible that there's no detectable signs of life despite there being trillions of planets with life, than Earth being the only place in the universe with life. You can't have a gajillion planets - all with stupider life than us. It's impossible. This is why I'm skeptical that there's any life in the universe besides on Earth. If you have a gajillion slot machines, you'd expect millions of them to hit the jackpot. But looks like there's only one slot machine, and it did hit the jackpot.