Game Theory and Alien Contact

If aliens have yet to contact us, the question as as plagued astronomers as to why. The three main approaches: that warp is impossible, that civilizations go extinct after a short duration, and that they deliberately do not interact with us pose numerous questions that can be answered through the economic and historical lenses of game theory.

 

Zagare, a scholar of game theory posits that in a situation where two entities possess uncertain forces in opposition to one another, diplomacy will always be the first recourse until sufficient intelligence can be gathered on the other civilization. There is a distinct possibility that in the event that multiple alien civilizations met, war would be delayed by curiosity and the need for negotiation to avoid perhaps uncertain arms and different technologies of an opposing race – time enough to form an Intersolar government arrangement. If Zagare’s theory is to hold true, then we could very well be living in world that would rationally develop a system like the Prime Directive from Star Trek.

 

However, there are counterproposals and counterexamples. Keck points out that the idea of a mutually assured destruction awareness in both the west and east in the cold war is mostly a modern fabrication – during the Cold War, the USSR thought it could “win” a full blown nuclear war and that the damage could be temporary. The chance of intergalactic contact resulting I am purely peaceful and safe encounter by that logic could be much smaller than expected – bringing down the number of civilizations and the years they could last.

 

Ultimately, this all begs the question of what resources aliens would seek in space, which horse us to analyze the economics of exploring space in the first place. Would colonization as science fiction movies and shows portray even be economically feasible, or would population control and mining be a more conservative, manageable path?

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