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[personal profile] anansi133
I've been reading David Brin's _Existence_, and I appreciate his take on the puzzle of First Contact. (or as I call it, Lucid Contact).

At the same time, I am continually amazed by my relationship with this dog I seem to 'own'. (a curious idea, this ownership of a sentient being. If I really believe in it, does that mean I give my consent to being owned myself? But I digress)

I've often thought that if intelligent extrasolar aliens exist, they *must* be aware of homo sapiens. We're just too loud to ignore. If they've been aware of us for any length of time, then we are not alien to them at all. But how alien are they to *us*?

And I look at 'my' dog, and reflect on how different he is from a human person. He's constantly making funny postures that are impossible for the human frame. His expressions seem completely transparent to me, yet they're not expressions a human would make. He resembles a person in every way (certainly a very young person) without being a human person. And to my mind this is the real challenge of alien contact. Call it the Turing test in reverse. Can a human have a communication with a nonhuman and yet still regard that being as a person? We sure as hell better be capable! The consequences of guessing wrong could be catastrophic. And yet we so often guess wrong, even within our own species!

 I suppose this could form the center of the bulls-eye for SETI. Critters we are capable of recognizing as people, even if they seem strange. Like the way I regard my dog. Or more to the point, the high functioning autistic people I've met in the past. They seem as alien as any sort of human I'm ever likely to meet, yet I see so much of myself in them too.

 Mirrors: The things I treasure about 'my' animal, is the insights he gives me on human nature. How much of human nature isn't really human, more mammal, or animal, or even Terran. And there would be no shame in seeking out that kind of insight in any sort of extrasolar alien contact. They wouldn't necessarily be 'alien' in the way of the stranger. Rather, they should remind us of ourselves, but different enough so we notice things we didn't notice before.

 It seems pefectly plausible to me that 'first contact', Lucid Contact,  may well occur between humans and another Terran species that we've always believed we already understood. Meeting extrasolar intelligence after that, might feel like a let-down.

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anansi133

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