Stephen Hawking said back in 2010 that “Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach”. I think this is a poor assumption based on the evidence we have available here on Earth. He points to the analogy of Columbus’ barbaric treatment of Native Americans upon discovering their existence. I would say this is a terrible analogy. Any species capable of interstellar travel, would be far more emotionally advanced than Columbus and his crew, and far more tolerant and respectful of other life forms. Here is my evidence for this argument….
Let’s look at the top of the intellectual food chain : Human Beings. The most evolved species on the planet in terms of brain power. And within this species, let’s examine the arc of general societal empathy, and it’s advancement over time. There is a clear evolutionary path that has emerged. The human collective consciousness is evolving to be more compassionate and empathetic as time goes on. Our defense and tolerance for fellow human beings who have historically been abused and ostracized for being different(slaves, homophobia, racism, etc) has dramatically increased in sensitivity since Columbus’ time. Furthermore, in however many years it will take for us to evolve into a species capable of this sort of scientific feat, I see no reason for regression of this clear trajectory away from brutal insensitivity. You can see this same pattern in Humans ethical treatment of animals and general concern for our living planet. Compassion, respect, and understanding has undoubtedly grown exponentially through time, and these traits directly correspond with higher intelligence levels.
So, Hawking’s Columbus analogy does seem possible. I can’t say we should rule it out completely. But, I would argue this scenario is not the most probable outcome. Perhaps they will view us as moronic natives, but I don’t think they will treat us in a cruel or callous manner. When you look at the most brilliant individual minds on our planet, there is a high proclivity toward a peace-loving, empathetic type of person. As opposed to the dullest examples of our species, who tend to gravitate towards sadistic violence. The ignorant, indifferent cruelty Hawking assumes will follow a visit from sentient beings from the cosmos seems far less likely a scenario. Stephen need only to look in the mirror as one of the most intelligent among us. He and his colleagues have a higher propensity to possess a gentle compassion and respect for living creatures, versus being ignorantly fearful and destructive. I don’t have exact data or numbers to back this up, other than the fact that I can think of so FEW contrary examples(perhaps serial killers). My best guess is that intelligent beings would probably recognize the precious fragility of life, and not simply attempt to inflict arbitrary pain and destruction upon it. Especially, if they traveled such vast distances across the lifeless void of space to interact with it. Your move, Stevie.