'Cosmos' presenter: I worry aliens have already decided we're stupid

Neil DeGrasse Tyson tells MSNBC that it's possible aliens have visited and already concluded that there is no intelligent life on Earth.

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Have aliens already left us? MSNBC screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It's haunting enough that we're now, apparently, in the post, post-PC era.

But could it be that we're also in the post-alien era?

We always assume that alien contact is yet to be made, that the next frontier -- which might be the final one -- is out in space.

Yet astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson worries that this frontier has come and gone. Speaking to MSNBC's Chris Hayes, the "Cosmos" presenter talked about his hopes and fears.

In the latter category, he placed this idea: "The audacity of us to even claim we can define intelligence."

All too often, and I'm not specifically referring to Google engineers here, humans can behave as if we're the repository of all knowledge.

"My great fear is that we've in fact been visited by intelligent aliens, but they chose not to make contact, on the conclusion that there's no sign of intelligent life on Earth" he said.

DeGrasse Tyson went on to explain that there's plenty of organic matter in the Universe. What we don't know if how often such organic matter is turned into self-replicating life.

It's perfectly possible that planets out there have outlived their intelligent species. It could be that planets that pre-date ours enjoyed intelligent life for untold years, before that life became extinct.

But what if there's a planet that is so much more intelligent than our own (please, please tell me there is), where communication skills are so advanced that we don't understand?

What if they look at the iPad and merely giggle at what, to them, is a primitive form of abacus-like technology? What if they look at us staring into our TV screens at singing competitions and think we must be mentally deficient?

But perhaps they are reaching out to us, in as simple a way as they can.

"They could be saying 'Hey, we're over here! Look here! Look here!' It could be some technological thing that to them is just obvious," DeGrasse Tyson said. And, to us, falls on entirely unintelligent ears.

It could be that our attempts to communicate with other planets, and their attempts to communicate with us, are no better than the level of communication that happens on the average first date. Or year 7 of the average marriage.

And here we are thinking that we're so clever.

 

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