We have had a method based in scientific consideration about our potential for nuclear war from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The clock was reset recently to 2.5 minutes to midnight. When it hits midnight, we're toast.
2017: For the last two years, the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock stayed set at three minutes before the hour, the closest it had been to midnight since the early 1980s. In its two most recent annual announcements on the Clock, the Science and Security Board warned: “The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.”
In 2017, we find the danger to be even greater, the need for action more urgent. It is two and a half minutes to midnight, the Clock is ticking, global danger looms. Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way. See the full statement from the Science and Security Board on the 2017 time of the Doomsday Clock.
According to the Bulletin's statement: The Bulletin was founded in 1945 by Manhattan Project scientists who “could not remain aloof to the consequences of their work.”
It has been derided by some, feared by many. It is an obvious way that non scientists can get a handle on where we are at.
I'd like to suggest another clock. One that is a bit more positive, a bit less punitive and a bit more attractive. Considering there may be extraterrestrials out there who really want to explore, make new friends and not just the horror show some have claimed may be their intention, I'd like to see a Contact Clock, for how far we are from extraterrestrials visiting us.
As with the human element to Climate Change, for those who disbelieve in it, even against all the scientific facts involved, it still does us great good to go along as if it is true, even if it weren't. We would finally get off industrial age energy, petroleum, coal, even natural gas, though it's far better than the other two forms.
A Contact Clock would give us a way to see if we are moving toward a kind of global community of humanity that would attract a positive feeling from non terrestrials about us.
The argument against contact by such as Stephen Hawking and others, is that we have seen in our own history how contact by an advanced group toward a more primal group, tends to destroy that visited group.
And yet, it seems Hawking's desire to know if there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe trumps his fears. Today (July 20), he was part of a public announcement for a new initiative called Breakthrough Listen, which organizers said will be the most powerful search ever initiated for signs of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. [13 Ways to Hunt Intelligent Alien Life]
Examples of destructive encounters with advanced nations on earth have been either through outright destruction as with the Spanish toward the Aztecs, or where giving a primitive society advanced technologies that led to the destruction of their culture and many times led to that group either disappointing, becoming alcoholics or worse.
However only focusing on contact being by an aggressive, or even slave trade (or even culinary) extraterrestrial force, brings us nowhere. If they are that advanced, we're lost anyway. However, if they lean more toward the positive versions of contact with humankind in their contacting more primitive cultures, it would certainly benefit us to move along those lines.
Ii is in that case that we need to consider how we look to outsiders.
Are we appearing externally to act like children, and violent children at that? Are we prepared to maintain our own culture, in being psychologically cohesive and strong enough to withstand an influx of drastically new cultures, of immensely new forms of technologies?
Are we sociologically capable of even handling a contact? We can barely handle dealing with other countries that are different from what we are used to.
If we start now to move toward our productively and intelligently handling those things, if we can make ourselves appear more attractive for contact, even if there is no other race in the universe, we will still be all the better for it.
We have already seen much thought on this issue of contact. Both in sociology, science and speculative fiction, as well as in the fields of pure science.
One thought is that we are at a very noisy stage of our technological development. A more advanced society would be quieter and in our projecting broadcast signals out into deep space, we may be telegraphing how primitive we still are. Just as we are seeing a trend to go from broadcast to cable, to silent forms of communications, as in forms such as the internet, more advanced cultures who might themselves be silent in their more economical uses of energy and communications, may view us as much more reasonable to consider contacting us..
When we listen, we may quite reasonably not hear a thing from far off intelligently populated planets. Possibly because their old broadcast TV signals passed us by when we were neanderthals. The signals from the old 1950s TV show, I Love Lucy have been calculated as having now reached out as far as 60 light years from us back in 2011.
And so there is a Contact Clock already, currently set to five minutes to midnight.
"The Official Countdown to Contact Clock which began June 17, 2014 is a real-time countdown to contact between humanity and beings that exist outside of our known reality sphere and is visually represented by the minutes left until the clock hands strike midnight. The TOR Contact Clock is a mirror of the infamous Doomsday Clock which signifies a countdown to nuclear oblivion. The TOR Contact Clock offers an alternative reality belief system in which humanity is not destroyed by the military-industrial-complex mindset, but alternatively, glides into a parallel reality in which humanity shrugs off the old, barbaric ways and enters into a final stretch of open contact and strong relationships with peaceful galactic neighboring civilizations."
I'm not so sure they are the ones to be doing this. But the concept is a valid one. We need a guage by which to judge who we are and how we are developing. The Doomsday Clock is a wake up call about a serious issue. We need to be aware of that.
Still, we also need to see the more positive side of our development and reasons for it. Not just to avoid destruction. But also to have a goal to attain that is more positive.