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Civil Rights For Aliens?

Cliff posted more than 13 years ago | from the maybe-someone-will-know-the-answer dept.

Space 315

CoolBoys writes "Has anyone considered what would happen if first contact is made, and some alien (say, a Vulcan?) wants to stay on earth for a while. He has no acceptable passport, right? Does he even have any rights? What about rights for other sentient life forms (AI, perhaps?)"

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For Annette (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#324742)

I love you Annette

Re:What if... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#324743)

What if a South American cannibal tribe moved to New York City and started eating people. What would we do? Why is an extra-terrestrial different? And you may want to be careful about defining something immoral. As long at it's not illegal, for the most part people don't care if it's immoral.

Can the laws even be applied to them... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#324744)

Well, the aliens aren't human beings, so would our laws that are made for us also apply for them? They would be more like animals in that sense. However, then again maybe not. We would have something in common; intelligence. Maybe we would reat them well because of that, only.

Damn Cliff! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#324745)

What's with the TROLLBAIT???

Re:For Annette (1)

pohl (872) | more than 13 years ago | (#324746)

Ah, slashdot in the spring...

Re:For Annette (1)

pohl (872) | more than 13 years ago | (#324747)

Are you still beating your wife?

Only at Total Annihilation...she crushes me at Starcraft.

worst Ask Slashdot ever! (1)

gjohnson (1557) | more than 13 years ago | (#324748)

I would like to say that this is the worst Ask Slashdot EVER!

Re:this is really silly (1)

Glytch (4881) | more than 13 years ago | (#324756)

This is offtopic, but if churches become obsolete, I'd like to buy a cathedral and turn it into a cool geek house.

I'd turn the main body into a ball hockey court, turn the balconey at the back into a bedroom loft, and replace the altar with a dining table. Confessionals would be remodelled into convenient liquer cabinets and expresso machine alcoves. I'd keep the organ, though, because those are just damn cool. The front balconey would be computer room, and I'd put an indoor, in-ground pool in the basement.

Re:Not likely... (1)

Glytch (4881) | more than 13 years ago | (#324758)

I went back and read that comment, imagining Comic Book Guy's voice saying it. Everyone else should try it, too. :)

Depends on its bargaining position. (1)

Wayfarer (10793) | more than 13 years ago | (#324765)

My own opinion is that it will depend on just how powerful said alien presence is. We may be more likely to consider guaranteeing rights for an alien if it has friends or resources to back it up.


"Is it all journey, or is there landfall?"

Patent infrightment (1)

mog (22706) | more than 13 years ago | (#324769)

Naah, someone at area 51 problably has their gene's and technology patented so they'd be sued if they ever come here! that's why they haven't dared making any more contact except for crashlanding! :)

Area 51 (1)

tiny69 (34486) | more than 13 years ago | (#324774)

Why don't you ask the "resident's" of Area 51.

Miami (1)

Talisman (39902) | more than 13 years ago | (#324776)

Tell him to come to Miami. We don't give ANY aliens much hassle about being here, with or without passports :)

Re:Not likely... (1)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 13 years ago | (#324779)

A guy named Erbo said commented on
this article [slashdot.org]
saying that the Prime Directive didn't exist when the Federation was formed.
Patrick Doyle

Re:Depends (1)

m3000 (46427) | more than 13 years ago | (#324781)

Is he communist or capitalist?

There is some paper/essay floating around the internet that explains why aliens would have to be communist (or is it capitalist?). It has to do with capitalists being too concerned with making money to explore the outlays of space, and only communists could bother with it or something. I'm sure someone reading this knows what I'm talking about...

what is this crapola???? (1)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 13 years ago | (#324787)

This is just ridiculous.... aliens? Aliens? ALIENS????

"I Want To Beleive" indeed....

Re:what is this crapola???? (1)

psykocrime (61037) | more than 13 years ago | (#324788)

Ok, the Aliens took over my mind on that last post, and made me spell "believe" wrong. I now have my aluminum foil beanie cap on, so they can't control me anymore.

Take that, pesky aliens!

Ludwig Wittgenstein on thinking machines (1)

peeping_Thomist (66678) | more than 13 years ago | (#324789)

WARNING: Read slowly. Wittgenstein writes an unusual, compressed style that many find frustrating. You won't be able to follow this unless you read it v-e-r-y-s-l-o-w-l-y.


But a machine surely cannot think! -- Is that an empirical statement? No. We only say of a human being and what is like one that it thinks. We also say it of dolls and no doubt of spirits too. Look at the word 'to think' as a tool.

The chair is thinking to itself:...

WHERE? In one of its parts? Or outside its body; in the air around it? Or not anywhere at all? But then what is the difference between this chair's saying something to itself and another one's doing so, next to it? - But then how is it with man: where does he say things to himself? How does it come about that this question seems senseless; and that no specification of a place is necessary except just that this man is saying something to himself? Whereas the question where the chair talks to itself seems to demand an answer. - The reason is: we want to know how the chair is supposed to be like a human being; whether, for instance, the head is at the top of the back and so on.

What is it like to say something to oneself; what happens here? - How am I to explain it? Well, only as you might teach someone the meaning of the expression 'to say something to oneself'. And certainly we learn the meaning of that as children. - Only no one is going to say that the person who teaches it to us tells us 'what takes place'.

-- Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations

Assume the worst (1)

Voltage_Gate (69001) | more than 13 years ago | (#324790)

We'll be instant dinner for them, or worse, we'd become their sex slaves. Sheesh... And we have the nerve to ask what about THEIR rights!

Re:well id imagine.... (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 13 years ago | (#324794)

Don't those rights only apply to people? AFAIK they do not apply to, say, whales, let alone anything unearthly.

Re:Seriously, guys (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 13 years ago | (#324795)

Well, for an alien to even *reach* this world as-is would suggest a comparatively high level of technology. After all, either they're REALLY REALLY good at hiding themselves, or they're outside of the solar system -- and the nearest planets are quite far, IIRC. Far enough that it would take a *rather* long time for, say, our current technology to send a manned vessel, due to propulsion and life-support issues (ISTR that we can't send manned craft on as rapid trajectories, since people are fragile...) and so forth. And if the civillization at the origin of a vessel is similar to ours in that technological developments seem to accelerate with a greater overall level of technology, then they may be significantly more advanced than such a traveller and his craft would indicate. So by his presence he (especially if an engineer or other with technical skill -- which would be likely given the possible maintenance issues regarding interstellar flight...), or at least his vessel, would be of extreme interest in at least that respect.

I'd say that he would merit careful treatment by the host, and quite probably more so than a "normal earthling" -- or even an exceptional one, at least until his capabilities can be fully assessed.

Re:well id imagine.... (1)

x24 (81159) | more than 13 years ago | (#324799)

> imagine a grey driving a taxi, or working in a 7-11.....

Or better yet, McDonald's:
"Welcome to McDonald's. You'll have a Big Mac, large fries, and a medium Coke. And you're allergic to pickles..."

Re:Well, since it's not human... (1)

Bandman (86149) | more than 13 years ago | (#324801)

Has this stopped us from doing it TO humans???

self awareness (1)

Punto (100573) | more than 13 years ago | (#324809)

I think it's a matter of determining the self awareness of the individual (especially in the case of the AI; the alien is probably smarter than us).

The brains of a mouse, a person, and a computer are basically the same: a bounch of neurons (or transistors, or whatever the aliens have). We have to determine what is it that make us different from the mouse. Then we'll know if we can kill the alien, just like we kill a mouse, or a bigger animal.

It's also a matter of the society. We could kill a dolphin if it wasn't in extintion, but we can't kill a retarded person (that probably has a less developed brain than the dolphin). I wonder what would happend if the alien was part of a big 'collective inteligence' thing, and it comes alone, and it's not that smart.


Re:Only place I can think of (1)

thelaw (100964) | more than 13 years ago | (#324810)

if they get past the armed security that keeps havenco's servers safe.


Re:What if... (1)

MadMagician (103678) | more than 13 years ago | (#324815)

p3d0 writes:
>What if there's something they consider a basic right, which we consider immoral? Or vice-versa?

Sounds like the story of my life!:]

Only place I can think of (1)

cecil36 (104730) | more than 13 years ago | (#324816)

I believe if aliens came to earth, the only place where they may be able to stay is in Sealand. Just hope that no information that the aliens can use to take over our world is being co-located there.

Seriously, guys (1)

fractaltiger (110681) | more than 13 years ago | (#324819)

In our local case: If it's legally hard for people to enter the US to become a citizen, having to wait 5 - 10 years after you are claimed by a relative who's a citizen... then becoming a citizen or resident for someone without any credentials would be controversial to those who have some.

Elsewhere: If an alien gets a passport to travel around the world because he's just a new species and could bring new insight to our own worldview, then people will think of a new racism and complain that their contries don't give them passports that easily.

Imagine the issues of allowing an extraterrestial to work in a company or college where normal earthlings need a lifetime of experience to even consider the job. Then, again, SCI FI has shown how easily and comfortably humans live among aliens. Take Star Trek, Earth: Final Conflict (umm, maybe not...), Outer limits and many of those space fictions.

Let's hope the earth won't give them too many "unfair" priviledges that might spark a controversy on views on discrimination and 'racism.'

Re:What if... (1)

fractaltiger (110681) | more than 13 years ago | (#324820)

Assimilating a human for lunch behind closed doors
vs. Humans eating in public?

Religion? Sexual practices? Speech vs. Telepathy, etc.
What others can you think of?

Re:Inalienable Human Rights (1)

FTL (112112) | more than 13 years ago | (#324821)

> Azetbur (Klingon Chancellor, ST6)

Oops, when she said this, she was just the Chancellor's daughter. She didn't become Chancellor for another few hours.

If I don't post this correction, I'm sure to get flamed from here to Rura Penthe.

Re:It's more complicated than this... (1)

FTL (112112) | more than 13 years ago | (#324822)

Oops, sorry. Thought it was going to be a parody making fun aboot the folks in Canada, eh?

Re:It's more complicated than this... (1)

Da Penguin (122065) | more than 13 years ago | (#324826)

Something else I'd like to say (offtopic, but don't hate me for this).
Has anyone looked at the different languages supported by Google [google.com] ? By personal favorite is their made up language named "Bork, bork, bork!". Check out Google prefs in Bork,bork,bork [google.com] for an example. This is my default now

Re:Not likely... (1)

Walterk (124748) | more than 13 years ago | (#324828)

Well, don't we owe pretty much all our technology to one nut job who just happened to invent it? Life is all about coincedences.

But...but.... (1)

efuseekay (138418) | more than 13 years ago | (#324834)

Won't they set up us the bomb first??!

Think about this (1)

sokoban (142301) | more than 13 years ago | (#324836)

Imagine a world without hypothetical situations. It's a much better place isn't it?

Re:Depends (1)

panum (161455) | more than 13 years ago | (#324840)

if this alien is from a race that has mastered intergalactic space travel, I doubt that he will care very much about our immigration laws

If these aliens have space travel, ray guns and stuff, I'd think the humans should be worried about their very own human rights.

Basically, there is but one right: might. The society grants you something called as "human rights", but these are by no means natural or universal. Only by force, or by its threat, we have any rights. Someone violates your right of, say, freedom by enslaving you. He has all the power -- and thus the right -- to do that, so be it. But the society has (hopefully) even more power. Police and army can be used to your protection. Should the need arise, then your society-granted right of freedom is given by use or threat of use of violence.

Its an inperfect world and the mankind is imperfect, foolish, greedy, self-centered and generally just moronic as well. Idea of universal solidarity and human rights are just nice ideas from guys with thick beards and notebooks, sitting in nice Parisian street cafés next to the Seine river. Sigh.


well id imagine.... (1)

brad2600 (170333) | more than 13 years ago | (#324847)

assuming that they landed on us soil, and werent immiediately killed/captured by rednecks or the government, they would be extended all the rights set fourth in your constitution. the constitution doesnt apply to citizens, but to anyone on us soil. they wouldnt be allowed to work, or stay any longer than six months untill the proper paper work is filled out however.

imagine a grey driving a taxi, or working in a 7-11.....


Drink more tea
organicgreenteas.com [organicgreenteas.com]

Re:ID4 speech sums it up (1)

Sven-Erik (177541) | more than 13 years ago | (#324850)

Well, we know for sure their life-support system aren't running M$. If they were, we would definitely be talking about the Blue Screen of Death...

Depends (1)

mizhi (186984) | more than 13 years ago | (#324853)

Is he communist or capitalist? :-D

Honestly, if this alien is from a race that has mastered intergalactic space travel, I doubt that he will care very much about our immigration laws... people will be panicking too much to really care anyway...

Re:ID4 speech sums it up (1)

flikx (191915) | more than 13 years ago | (#324858)

As does Will Smith beating the shit out of one of them and dragging the body across 300 miles of desert in an hour.

Not to mention some crazy drunk crop dusting pilot flying an F-18 hornet up the asshole of their big laser beam to destroy the ship just like the death start and the exhaust port.

.. don't get me started on that cross platform skull and crossbones virus written in a day for a foreign computer system. I suppose the aliens will come with microvaxes or macs or something.


May I add: (1)

flikx (191915) | more than 13 years ago | (#324859)

That the "alien come as big game hunter" plot from Predator is much more likely.

The real questions would be, when such a hunter is caught, what are its rights within the US legal system, and could they put such an entity though our prison system? Maybe an alien zoo is more likely.


Are you talking about... (1)

ZeroConcept (196261) | more than 13 years ago | (#324860)

Are you talking about Xenu? I wouldn't worry about him, he has lots and lots of lawyers.

If it were to happen... (1)

NetGyver (201322) | more than 13 years ago | (#324867)

As far as i'm concerned, the Alien might as well not even bother trying to get any rights whatsoever. He'd more than likely spit in our faces becuase in some countries humans don't even give other humans the same basic rights that the Alien might be asking for.

Rights for illegal aliens (1)

Chazmati (214538) | more than 13 years ago | (#324883)

Well, I imagine this alien could find work as a housekeeper or gardener while trying to acquire a green card. In the end I'm sure some slashdotter would offer to marry the alien, easing the naturalization process.

Ooh, then on the census form the alien could check the new "mixed race" box...

Scully and Mulder to the rescue... (1)

smartfart (215944) | more than 13 years ago | (#324884)

...to rescue the nice aliens from the evil government agency that wants to kill them and cover everything up, right?

hoo-ray! (1)

fishfucker (217763) | more than 13 years ago | (#324887)

thank you slashdot, for addressing what may be my worst alien based worry.



In anticipation of this grand event... (1)

GeneralEmergency (240687) | more than 13 years ago | (#324894)

...I have take my lawn mower and cut the following message into my lawn in thirty foot letters:


"A microprocessor... is a terrible thing to waste." --

Why bother coming down here? (1)

GeneralEmergency (240687) | more than 13 years ago | (#324895)

They can watch all the TV they want from orbit. And frankly, after a couple of hours of Super SmackDown, Jerry Springer and Survivor, I'd bet that they feel fully justified in nuking our monkey asses to a fucking cinder as a favor to the rest of the galaxy.

"A microprocessor... is a terrible thing to waste." --

Just like now (1)

Phoz (241367) | more than 13 years ago | (#324896)

I'm guessing it's just like when you visit foreign countries. I enjoyed smoking weed in Holland, but I sure can't fire the ol' pipe up back here in Denmark. Doesn't really matter what morals you have or what laws your country/planet has, you'll have to follow local restrictions.
Handing over fines to a 7 feet tall, green monster with a ray-gun is another topic...

Coneheads (1)

Rasta Prefect (250915) | more than 13 years ago | (#324900)

"If aliens are just crashing in the desert, the they're under the airforces jurisdiction. But when they start taking jobs from Americans...well thats then they're under the jurisdiction of the INS". Or something like that. I haven't seen the movie in a long time.

Re:Marry a US citizen == instant legal resident. (1)

Husaria (262766) | more than 13 years ago | (#324907)

Not anymore...
They passed a law saying you can't do that anymore

Aliens!! (1)

TwitchSGL (265659) | more than 13 years ago | (#324909)

Who says they aren't here already!?!

*Hiding under desk in cube*

Re:Not likely... (1)

Bobo the Space Chimp (304349) | more than 13 years ago | (#324914)

They would like to continue the spirit. The problem is that once warp drive is invented, it won't be long before they start stepping out into the middle of a busy highway.

If an unknown civilization on earth suddenly invented jet planes, wouldn't you want to merge them into international flight plans, and warn them not to go into other areas that are already spoken for?

Typical question, wrong approach (1)

Bobo the Space Chimp (304349) | more than 13 years ago | (#324924)

Instead of wondering whether they have souls, we should be praying they think we have souls.

We're "some microbes on an anthill in Africa" wondering whether we sould grant them equal rights. Uhhhh, ok.

Any politician who thinks they shouldn't have rights should be INSTANTANEOUSLY executed for high treason, the likes of which this planet has never seen.

Re:What if... (1)

Bobo the Space Chimp (304349) | more than 13 years ago | (#324925)

As long as the cannible tribe had the permission of those they ate, I have no problem with it.

Your, their, everyone's definition of morality, propriety, and the like end where my nose begins. My life and my freedom are not contingent on getting your permission to live and be free.

Re:What if... (1)

Bobo the Space Chimp (304349) | more than 13 years ago | (#324926)

Oops, I left one "b" out of nibble.

Re:What if... (1)

Bobo the Space Chimp (304349) | more than 13 years ago | (#324927)

> But what if they also want to collect nazi memorabilia?

Oh, come on now! I can't think of any major science fiction movie where the aliens showed any interest in anything of the Nazis.

uhh (1)

TrollFeeder (396384) | more than 13 years ago | (#324949)

If a guy from another planet visits, I assure you he'll get diplomatic immunity so as not to get Earth vaporized.

stupid question.

"May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house"

Re:What if Jesus was born today? (1)

TrollFeeder (396384) | more than 13 years ago | (#324950)

Who ever said things haven't gotten better in the last two thousand years?

Today, the person is taken off the streets where he won't be a danger to society. Back then, he was allowed to walk free and he started the most successful cult ever. Hopefully we've learned the lesson well enough never to make that mistake again, and all messiahs will get the appropriate treatment.

(really, if you believe half the things you guys say you do about God, don't you think he'd "find a way"? Or is He just that incapable?)

"May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house"

Re:no need to worry about this... (1)

TrollFeeder (396384) | more than 13 years ago | (#324951)

heh. What I want to see is the Christian nuts, all rushing to tell aliens about Jesus, who died for their sins, and would they please accept Him as their Personal Savior.

That will be precious.

"May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house"

Re:May I add: (1)

TrollFeeder (396384) | more than 13 years ago | (#324952)

I'd pay to see a true alien put on trial here on earth...

"Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?"

"What's a God??"

Funny, that's what I would say :-)

"May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house"

Well... (1)

Punikki (413668) | more than 13 years ago | (#324962)

Making a sentient being dead intentionally is murder, no matter what you call it. Unless that being actually wants to die. If an AI can fool us that he's not one, then he might as well pass for a living thing. Heck, G.W. passes for a sentient being, can't imagine a machine doing worse.

Aliens should be greeted with joy and given diplomatic immunity. Any such visitor should be granted a federal funded stay in exchange for improving the relations between two species. And no kicking them out like G.W did to russians. I'll bet that 10% of them were not guilty of spying! Oh, and they should be allowed to work at universities as professors. The gray would pass for some of them without students even noticing.

Re:If you saw the submission queue.. (1)

quixer (413681) | more than 13 years ago | (#324963)

:] You dumbasses! This is leading up to the April fools joke that /. pulls every year... Expect another alien post tomarrow.

Re:What about other humans? (2)

Glytch (4881) | more than 13 years ago | (#324972)

Are you crazy? Supporting dictatorial regimes whos lax or non-existant human rights laws guarantees cheap goods to western consumers. That's just nuts. Are you saying that you'd really rather pay a few dollars more for a t-shirt just so that the person who made it can earn a decent wage and help their families get out of poverty? Crazy person. Don't you know that the only important thing is for our decent, kindhearted, concerned western corporations is to make money?

Try "Calculating God" (2)

Nyerp (9158) | more than 13 years ago | (#324975)

A novel which gives a reasonable view of what might happen... If a sentient alien were to land in Canada, anyway. God forbid if one lands south of the border. :)

I hope that the first contact is with... (2)

jjeffries (17675) | more than 13 years ago | (#324980)

Well, I hope that the first extra-terrestrials on Earth are the Organians. If you recall, they're the ones who enforce the truce between the Federation and the Romulans--by making all their weapons red-hot when they try to use them against each other. They could do wonders in the middle east!

Second choice: the space hippies. You know, the drums, funny ears (natch)... Herbert! Herbert! And damn, I'll bet you can grow some good smoke in zero-g.

Third choice: Wookies. They're big, furry, pretty peaceful, and make cute noises... what more do you want? I just hope that they're not all too popular with the ladies.

LAST choices: The Borg, if they're not here already; that Zorn lizard-thing that Cap'n Kirk had to bop in the head with a homemade cannon; Cats--I don't want 'em setting up us the bomb.

Re:ID4 speech sums it up (2)

dillon_rinker (17944) | more than 13 years ago | (#324981)

As does the alien's response:

No peace...

Re:Not likely... (2)

Shadowlion (18254) | more than 13 years ago | (#324982)

We were not a space faring race when the vulcans showed up, we had just been lucky enough to have a nut job who wanted to try out his experimental rocket around the same time the vulcans were in the neighbourhood.

With regards to such evolutionary technology, a race is considered to "have" that technology when it is first demonstrated to work. It implies nothing about the subsequent use or distribution of that technology.


Historical legal cases ... (2)

LL (20038) | more than 13 years ago | (#324984)

How does one recognise self-independence or sovereignty? Our legal system does pose some administrative bottlenecks (e.g. citizenship and passports) but the systems are usually flexible enough to adapt (though not always painlessly or quickly). For example, the Mabo case which overturned the doctrine of Terra Nullus (the preassumption that Australia was *NOT* inhabitied at the time despite the presence of natives). All the property rights have derived from (OK nicking the place by teh British crown) this early premise and the recent overturn has meant a period of uncertainty as everything is renogotiated. If a superior civilisation did discover Earth, we might be in the position of trying to prove we actually deserve to cohabit this portion of the galaxy (which may prove bloody). As Napolean once said, God is on the side with the biggest guns. Legally, I suppose that the UN would try to ascertain the formal government structure and then organise some sort of protocol. The biggest problem here is whether any of our concepts of governance overlap? For example, supposing they come in and ask for our souls (or equivalent exotic) but we don't recognise the concept. This is much like asking the aborigines for spectrum rights 100 years ago. But once the xenolinguists figure out what conceptual basis of self-control exists, you can progressively match them up with human equivalents (e.g. refugee status) for which there are well established precedences. With formal recognition comes diplomatic rights (or at least the human equivalent). Great civilisations in the past managed to exchange people and even trade (Europe/China in Renaissance) but the evidence also exists that imposing a predetermined mindset can be harmful (e.g. Catholic conversion of the Americas). If you assume that the Prime Directive is a binding law then it is likely that it arose out of historical precedences on their side so again you'd be able to figure out the philosophy and draw upon human parallels.

An interesting question is can you figure out a culture's philosophy merely from a limited sample of their language? For example, if you make the assumption that since Vulcans have some telephathic ability, then the concept of lying might be foreign to them (cognitive dissonance). Their c'thia (truth) would be OK in the physical sciences (after all the laws of physics can't be broken) but would they understand commerce or the art of illusions/humor? Their Kh'askpetheya'th (definition of thought) would quite likely lead to different values reflected in the kro'el (way). Afterall c'thia (logic, reality-truth) is rooted in our perception of the world which is highly colored by social interaction.

BTW I recall there was a some mention of trying to simulate what the evolution of Vulcan would be based on biogeophysical developments (e.g. hotter sun, less water, etc) but is there any further work?


Wow (2)

Aphexian (29497) | more than 13 years ago | (#324987)

This Ask Slashdot is so lame it doesn't deserve a FP?? Never thought I'd see the day.

Re:Not likely... (2)

Aphexian (29497) | more than 13 years ago | (#324988)

Don't you run a comic shop in Springfield? Doh!

Re:Not likely... (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#325001)

what I thought was funny about First Contact was that the vulcans were totally technical about their prime directive just like the federation. ie. The human race had just gotten warp technology no longer than 20 minutes ago when the vulcans showed up. How exactly is that honouring the spirit of the prime directive. We were not a space faring race when the vulcans showed up, we had just been lucky enough to have a nut job who wanted to try out his experimental rocket around the same time the vulcans were in the neighbourhood.

Re:Not likely... (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#325002)

He often gave the secret of warp technology to blue chicks on dates.

Re:Depends (2)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 13 years ago | (#325005)

A really far-thinking capitalist will have to at least consider asteroid mining at some point; exploration, then, would be prospecting and surveying. Earth's mineral resources are quite finite, and at some point scarcity would probably make it worth it. I'd be surprised if there actually weren't a whole host of ways to economically exploit space and its contents...

How about human-animal hybrids? (2)

Buggernut (74804) | more than 13 years ago | (#325008)

Here is a more realistic and perhaps inevitable situation to consider than Vulcans landing on Earth.

How about when human and animal hybrids are produced from genetic tampering. Should the resulting lifeforms have the same rights as humans?

One thing we know ... (2)

Jim Tyre (100017) | more than 13 years ago | (#325011)

... is that ET would not be able to copyright his story.

"At the very least, for a worldly entity to be guilty of infringing a copyright, that entity must have copied something created by another worldly entity."

Urantia Foundation v. Maaherra

114 F.3d 995 (9th Cir. 1997)

lets see (2)

PharCyDE (101385) | more than 13 years ago | (#325012)

aliens..they would be treated extremely well..considering we would need technology from them...and being humans..we like to suck up.. AI..basucally slavery..cause we created it so we would think we were its god or something..

Inalienable Human Rights (2)

FTL (112112) | more than 13 years ago | (#325014)

"'Human Rights'. Why the very name is racist."
-- Azetbur (Klingon Chancellor, ST6)

Re:It's more complicated than this... (2)

FTL (112112) | more than 13 years ago | (#325015)

That's hysterical. Even funnier is the list of languages that Google are working to support [google.com] .
  • Elmer Fudd (4%)
  • Hacker (17%)
  • Kannada (2%)
  • Klingon (2%) -- WooHoo! Can't wait!
  • Pig Latin (73%)
Borkborkbork is just the tip of the iceberg!

AI doesn't count as a life form (2)

Dungeon Dweller (134014) | more than 13 years ago | (#325017)

I don't think that I will ever consider AI to be a life form. I've written plenty of it in my time at university. I've read up on it and coded it and played with it and everything... and no matter how well you simulate life... it's all quantifiable algorithms and equations and so forth. If there is an AI bill of rights. I think that I will have to move to mars. (BTW, if I develop and AI in the future, and it reads this, I hope it doesn't hold this against me... I doubt it will.)

this is really silly (2)

Theodore Logan (139352) | more than 13 years ago | (#325019)


I can see Lucy Random Cheerleader asking this question, and how everybody would giggle nervously and then change the subject. But as for this being accepted by Cliff as an entire "Ask Slashdot?"? Someone hasn't slept in a while, that's for sure.

As for the passport issue: I'll guess they'll just have to make an exception.

Suggestions for future Ask Slashdots:

  • If it was somehow proven that God doesn't exist, what are we going to with all churches and stuff?
  • If a tree falls in a forest, and noone is there to hear it, how did it fall in the first place?
  • If a giant rock is heading towards the earth and we all die when we collide, who's going to be around to kick Bruce Willis ass for not saving us?
The answer to all of these is of course: who gives a damn? There might be more important questions to address in such a situation.


Now flame on if you want to, but I seriously think this was a really silly question.

Re:AI and Aliens will be treated VERY differently. (2)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 13 years ago | (#325020)

Pooies, you are forgetting something, AI doesn't have the problem that humans do of not adapting to their situation.

We could insert a simple line reading

If Slavery = True
Happiness = True

If Slavery = False
Happiness = False

I'd like to see them fight for freedom then,heh, a bunch of depressed freedom fighters.

ID4 speech sums it up (2)

AntiNorm (155641) | more than 13 years ago | (#325023)

The President's speech from Independence Day sums it up well:

I know there is much we can learn from each other if we can negotiate a truce.
We can find a way to co-exist.
Can there be peace between us?

The AOL-Time Warner-Microsoft-Intel-CBS-ABC-NBC-Fox corporation:

AI and Aliens will be treated VERY differently. (2)

bluephone (200451) | more than 13 years ago | (#325026)

Assuming the conpiracy theorists are wrong, and the aliens come down in peace and all that, an alien (or aliens) wishing to stay would be treated like a foreign dignitary. It obviously a special circumstance where rules would be set aside for the duration.

Now, as far as AI would go, first AI will be created, but the rights of AI won't come for a long time. Historically human societies are loathe to grant new rights to groups not currently recognized. An AI would be treated like a machine for long before they ever get rights. What will have to happen is people who currently DO have rights (living people) will have to take up the cause on behalf os the AI. Possibly the first test of the potential rights of an IA would come if the owner of the machine the AI "lives" in wants to shut it down, or sell the AI, or somehow threaten it's status quo, and another person starts seeking injunctions and the court to recognize the AI as a being. This si going to be an extremely interesting set of legal ground greaking when it finally takes place. Kind of makes you wonder who the AI version of Rosa PArks will be...


Re:What if... (2)

Maj. Kong (215009) | more than 13 years ago | (#325030)

What if there's something they consider a basic right, which we consider immoral? Or vice-versa?

Yeah, those anal probes would be illegal under Georgia's sodomy laws. It's a big issue among gray rights advocates.

Gray Pride! Keep reaching for that nebula!

Maj. Kong

How about animal rights? (2)

3-State Bit (225583) | more than 13 years ago | (#325032)

Seems to me some days the only way we can justify the things we do against a living being that feels pain, in the case specifically of animal agriculture that puts animals into visible agony (still existant if not so prevalent as in the days of Sinclair Lewis's [whose btw was the quote-of-the-day when I was looking at this page (Advertising is a valuable economic factor because it is the cheapest way of selling goods, particularly if the goods are worthless. -- Sinclair Lewis )] "The Jungle"), is by saying that "we are human, you are not." This reasoning illuminates two important considerations:
  1. The moral positions of the majority of us hinge intimately on condoning "human bigotry", and would have to be re-evaluated if we come into contact with another race that we must accept as having the same rights. (As some of us have already accepted that it is the right of any animal that can feel pain not to be made to feel pain).
  2. The above reasoning can be the result only of an inveterate programmer, who alone are able to parse such sentences--the kind no self-respecting English teacher could so much as look at without becoming violently sick.
This has been a public service.

In the U.S., he'd be arrested under a 1996 law (2)

Voltaire99 (265100) | more than 13 years ago | (#325038)

The feds would scoop up him (her? himher? it? THEM?) under the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.

You've heard of this law: it's the one that allows foreigners to be held without telling them why. It was passed after an American, the soon-not-to-be T. McVeigh, blew up the Oklahoma Federal Building. In the U.S., when our own citizens go looney, we like to crack down on dangerous foreigners.

The sad fact is that no alien, terrestial or extraterrestial, has much in the way of "rights," civil or otherwise, here.

Re:Sure there is rights for them. (2)

kachuik (319753) | more than 13 years ago | (#325039)

The key word is PEOPLE. Cats & dogs are not people and are not citizens. Until another law is passed "space" aliens are just animals and, depending on the chosen landing spot, would be treated as an exotic pet - off to the zoo for you! Of course if the mother ship's size in measured by the mile and came into orbit on a jet of plasma as bright as the sun, ambassador status would be granted fairly quick.:)

Same as the rest of us... (2)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 13 years ago | (#325040)

They will have thier technology patented by RAMBUS and get sued off the planet.

Well, since it's not human... (3)

Phaid (938) | more than 13 years ago | (#325041)

Because it's not human, assuming we could easily overpower it, we'd kill it and dissect it, and take apart all of its technology. Then the other aliens on the mother ship would figure out that we're some kind of horrible parasite devouring all of the planet's atmosphere and natural resources, kill us all with some sort of genetically engineered microphage, and make first contact with the dolphins.

no need to worry about this... (3)

bungatron (9546) | more than 13 years ago | (#325042)

we cannot appreciate sentient life as a species; "man shall have dominion over animals" as some bible tells us. We slaughter whales; dolphin death is a fall out from tuna farming.

so basically, we'll kill them and eat them, maybe entering them into a forced breeding or cloning programme so we have plenty of tasty novelty alien flesh.

the only animals we have ever empathised with, as a species, are apes and monkeys, because they look like us. if they don't look like us, we got no respect for them; they're food. we've essentially *got* alien culture on earth already and we treat it like shit.

just a vegetarian's tuppence, anyway. :-)

Specist Rights (3)

Nihilism Uber Alles (95674) | more than 13 years ago | (#325045)

Perhaps we as humans are to precise in our notion of what forms of life any included in our circle of respect. In historical times, anybody who was not part of your particular village or tribe was not consider equal. Even today the remenants of segragation are around, from deciding that other races and ethnicity of people were not equal. Perhaps the next boundry is for a concept of rights that does not force the holder of those rights to be human. Organizations like the Great Apes Project(http://www.greatapeproject.org/) are pushing for similar moral and legal protections for large primates. I see such issues moving to the forefront in the coming century as more people come to discover philosophical that is is very difficult to logicaly construct an idea of equality in which small infants, children, or possibly even fetuses are covered as being "human" or "close enough to human to be given basic rights and protections", yet not extend those same ideas to other living forms of high ability. Unless one accepts the religous view that our own species is "in gods image" or is more unique and special in other ways that reduce animals to having no rights at all. If humans are so special, then aliens should not have rights. If there is some level of reasoning, intellegence, emotion or whatever we decide the guidelines for recieving rights should be, then we should have to test that judgement against the abilities and knowledge of other species.

What about other humans? (3)

bartok (111886) | more than 13 years ago | (#325046)

I think that before asking ourselves if aliens have rights, we should be asking ourselves if humans that live in other countries have rights to. If so, why do we keep doing buisness with them? Shoulden't our government exercise more pressure on other governments so that human rights be better in other countries instead of turning a blind eye because it's very profitable for north american and european buisnesses to exploit cheap labor and an an autoritarian government is handy when workers try to form teamster organizations. Is it not a bit hypocritical to indirectly support an oppressive regime financially?

Ho but I'm sorry, this is not on topic. I wouldn't want to spoil this very important conversation about alien rights. I'd better watch more television cause I think I'm starting to think for myself or something.

It's more complicated than this... (3)

Da Penguin (122065) | more than 13 years ago | (#325047)

Aaargh. Another minority. News at eleven: people with nothing to do are complaining about how you see very few aliens on television shows, and how there are no aliens on the various sports teams. Golf must be stopped, because it favours the majority of beings on this planet and their special bodies and upper arms. Why aren't there more giant sponge people with no visible brains involved in science? The oxygen based atmospehere is partial to only certain beings and discourages immigration from Zandorxis B. Thus the atmosphere must be equalized by adding poisonous gases to it.

PS: Does anyone know how this article actually made it on Slashdot?

Now go away or I shall taunt you with my supreme knowledge of pi

Not likely... (3)

c.r.o.c.o (123083) | more than 13 years ago | (#325048)

Well, if you've mentioned a Vulcan as your example, then there won't be any first contact, at least not on their part.

I know that the Federation has that pesky law, called the "Prime Directive", and I believe that the Vulcans have the same (I'm not sure about it though). As you probably know, one of the clauses of the directive is that you cannot come into contact with a civilization unless they have warp technology. We don't have it. So no vulcan will visit us any time soon.

As for other species, I'm sure that any concievable kind of aliens have been depicted in movies of all sorts. Movies which also explain pretty well what would happen in such scenarions. And if the predictions in the movies would come true, I'm a lot more concerned about OUR rights rather than the aliens (see Mars Attacks, Idependence Day, etc, etc).

Hope this answers your question. :)

nothing in common (3)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 13 years ago | (#325049)

The question sort of assumes that the aliens are our peers, like in the Star Trek universe where most of the aliens are humanoid, and are at a level of technological development similar to ours. Under that assumption, I guess it makes sense to worry about whether they can own property, vote on juries, blah blah blah.

But first off, they're not likely to be interested in juries and real estate. Look at our own planet. We can't even be sure whether dolphins, whales, and elephants are intelligent. Darn, I hate how the dolphins just refuse to use the #2 pencil properly in order to take an IQ test!

Also, the universe is billions of years old, and the evolution of intelligence is likely to happen at vastly different points in time. Any aliens who land on earth are likely to be hundreds of millions of years more advanced than us, so it won't really matter to them what our laws say.

The Assayer [theassayer.org] - free-information book reviews


terri rolle (413434) | more than 13 years ago | (#325051)

Its not a lame question. Its actually rather interesting. Who else would put such a fascinating question on the main page of their site? Its this kind of thinking that leads me to come to Slashdot in the first place. Its thinking outside the box. I know that this kind of subject matter makes some people uncomfortable, but one day humanity will have to consider issues like these, and maybe sooner than you think.

I think that there wouldn't be much of a problem with the law if (or should I say when) an alien comes to earth. Its pretty safe to assume that any alien who comes here will be much more advanced than us (not just technologically, but intellectually, morally, and spiritually). Most of us would pretty much intuitively recognize that fact. It would then be obvious that we couldn't possibly ask this higher being to conform to our backwards laws and customs.

In fact, I think we would have to be grateful that any aliens would want to have anything to do with us, after they witness the violence we've done to each other, and to our planet.

What if... (4)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 13 years ago | (#325053)

What if there's something they consider a basic right, which we consider immoral? Or vice-versa?
Patrick Doyle

Sure there is rights for them. (5)

SpamMan372 (413662) | more than 13 years ago | (#325056)

As far as the United States goes, we have set up right's for people that ARE U.S. Citizens, and those who aren't. Heck, we even refer to non-US citizens as aliens. So I dont see the difference if theyre from a different planet. We dont have text saying the rights of every different race or ethnic backround outlined. Although technically we should treat them as just non-americans, I have a strange feeling that we wouldnt, considering sometimes we cant even treat Americans like non-Americans sometimes. \
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