For many years projects like the SETI Institute (Search for extraterrestrial intelligence) has been combing through signals from outer space in the hopes of detecting a welcome message from aliens who want to make contact with earth.
The problem is, that nobody has ever conclusively registered any interest from aliens in making our acquaintance – and famous NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden thinks he knows why.
Basically it boils down that the fact that we are missing alien communications because we are using the wrong technology to look for them.
“If you look at encrypted communication, if they are properly encrypted, there is no real way to tell that they are encrypted. You can’t distinguish a properly encrypted communication from random behaviour,” he told Neil DeGrasse Tyson on his StarTalk podcast.
Snowden said that the problem here is one of compatibility. If aliens are trying to communicate with earth (and no, we can’t believe we just typed that either) and their commutations are encrypted, those hoping to intercept these message would miss them completely.
“If you have an alien civilization trying to listen for other civilizations, or our civilization trying to listen for aliens, there’s only one small period in the development of their society when all of their communications will be sent via the most primitive and most unprotected means.”
So with that said, we might never get to communicate with aliens after all, and that also assumes that we will actually be able to understand and decipher whatever signal we manage to intercept.
Even scarier, Stephen Hawking thinks that if even had to show up on our doorstep, it won’t turn out so well for us.
“If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much different to when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans,” he said in the documentary ‘Stephen Hawking’s Universe’.