A new non-peer-reviewed paper warns of the possibility of malicious alien messages. On the bright side, if you find yourself in the middle of a cyberattack while shuttling around the moon, at least you might have a mobile network available to call for help.
The researchers behind the paper argue that despite the potential for things going south with alien contact, the possible benefits to be gained outweigh the risk.
As a positive example, Motherboard describes a scenario proposed by the researchers: “The extraterrestrial message contains a header saying ‘We are friends. The galactic library is attached. It is in the form of an artificial intelligence which quickly learns your language and will answer your questions. You may execute the code following these instructions…’”
But in a darker scenario, the researchers imagine aliens sending malicious code designed to take over the internet and wreak havoc, and being difficult to contain. “While isolating a computer might work if the message is only received at one location, there’s a good chance that it might be received at multiple observatories or even picked up by amateur radio astronomers, who won’t be equipped to quarantine the message,” writes Motherboard.
In Motherboard’s imagined scenario, it goes down something like this: Earth receives its first interstellar transmission from an extraterrestrial intelligence. Excitement spreads. Scientists, mathematicians, and linguists gather to decode the message. And then…the IoT goes nuts, and computers and power grids are rendered useless. You know the drill.
While it all might be hard to imagine, it wasn’t that long ago that sending a Tesla into space and building a mobile network on the moon seemed unfathomable.
Get the full story at Motherboard.