WHY ET WON’T WIPE US OUT: Humanity Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Say Hello to Aliens. I enjoyed the “3 Body Problem” Netflix series and the sci-fi trilogy on which it’s based, but I disagree with the premise: that sending a message to an extraterrestrial civilization would doom Earth. The doomsayers, who want to ban the transmission of any more interstellar messages from radio telescopes, say that the reason we haven’t detected signals from aliens is that the only civilizations that survive are the ones smart enough to keep quiet. This is known as the “dark forest” hypothesis — the universe as a dark forest in which solitary hunters remain quiet and hidden, because they fear being killed by another hunter with much more advanced technology.

But as I argue in the Wall Street Journal, this scenario is flawed because it’s based on the axiom that expanding civilizations will inevitably deplete their natural resources and need to conquer other worlds.

The fear of conquest by aliens rests on the dubious premise that they would greedily crave the natives’ land and resources. But that’s not how civilization is proceeding on Earth as our technology advances. In the past, armies fought wars over access to scarce resources (salt, grain, oil), and 20th-century intellectuals predicted that overpopulation would lead to an “age of scarcity” with catastrophic global shortages of food and energy.

But thanks to technological progress, humans today are better nourished and wealthier than ever. Over the past century, the cost of food, energy and other commodities has plummeted more than twentyfold by comparison with workers’ wages. Natural resources now matter less to individuals or societies seeking wealth than an intangible resource: knowledge. The modern economy is increasingly dominated by industries that traffic not in physical commodities but in information: finance, software, communications, entertainment, artificial intelligence, education and research.

Because of this economic shift, today we wouldn’t react as 16th-century Europeans did to the discovery of a “new world” with less advanced technology. We’d exploit it differently. Sure, there would be oil and mining companies ready to extract resources, but they’d run into fierce opposition from scientists, politicians and activists determined to preserve and study its ecosystem and native cultures.

Why wouldn’t ET react similarly to the discovery of Earthlings? An advanced civilization wouldn’t be desperate for food and natural resources (which would be available on plenty of uninhabited planets and asteroids).

Earth’s farmland and minerals would be far less valuable to the aliens than the knowledge to be gained from studying the strange new life-forms on Earth. Even if they regarded us as appallingly primitive creatures, even if they felt no moral obligation to spare an inferior species, they’d be as eager to observe us as we are to watch animals in a zoo.

In fact, aliens may already be observing us without making themselves known, a possibility known as the “zoo hypothesis.” I prefer this to the dark forest hypothesis as an explanation for the Fermi paradox. In this scenario, the reason we haven’t heard from aliens is that they want to observe the behavior and evolution of Earth’s creatures unaffected by outside influences.

So let’s keep sending messages to the stars. Now that we can finally say something to aliens, maybe they’ll be curious to converse with the creatures in this zoo.