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  1.  (8976.1)
    From here:

    The United Nations was set today to appoint an obscure Malaysian astrophysicist to act as Earth?s first contact for any aliens that may come visiting.

    Mazlan Othman, the head of the UN's little-known Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa), is to describe her potential new role next week at a scientific conference at the Royal Society’s Kavli conference centre in Buckinghamshire.

    She is scheduled to tell delegates that the recent discovery of hundreds of planets around other stars has made the detection of extraterrestrial life more likely than ever before - and that means the UN must be ready to coordinate humanity’s response to any “first contact”.
    • CommentAuthor256
    • CommentTimeSep 26th 2010
     (8976.2)
    I can't tell you how much I'd like to work for the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs.

    In fact, I might just start putting that on business cards now and see what happens.

    UNOOSA - Whitechapel Branch
    • CommentAuthorlooneynerd
    • CommentTimeSep 26th 2010
     (8976.3)
    What're the chances of Aliens showing up and following diplomatic protocol? You know, instead of simply obliterating us and using the slag for profit.
  2.  (8976.4)
    I would assume that we would treat First Contact the same way we use first responders for a hostage situation:

    Develop a very simplistic protocol that anyone can follow, because the first one there will be immediately developing a rapport, and once there's a first contact established, we don't need some person in a suit showing up and kicking the only person aliens know out of the way, interrupting the discourse, and saying, "No, no, talk to THIS person."

    Basically we need a template that is very simplistic and easy to understand, to hold the fort until the suits can show up and back up the original person who's made contact.

    (I kind of liked that pamphlet looking cartoon that was made by the same guys who made "in case you travel through time.")
    • CommentAuthor256
    • CommentTimeSep 26th 2010
     (8976.5)
    More seriously, talking to aliens would be an incredibly hard job. Or rather, composing communications for alien recipients. There are a couple of different fields within this subject that I can differentiate:

    Send 'Em And See broadcasts, of which there are a few extant examples - mainly the Pioneer plates, the Voyager record, and the Arecebo message - and I don't think any of them are great. These are really Pre-First Contact - you're just throwing them out there in case anyone's there. The physical objects are pleasant symbolic items, but they're incredibly unlikely to ever come in contact with anything ever again. The Arecebo message is worth looking at - clearly a lot of work went into writing it, but it's mind-bogglingly difficult to read even if you're from Earth and familiar with a lot of the subject matter.

    Distant Discovery: This is the most likely form of the we-are-not-alone, to my mind. We'd discover some sign of life on an exoplanet some light-years distant, indicated either from signals that they've aimed at us, or by detection of some sort of megastructure engineering (I saw something recently in the science news about designing next-gen space telescopes that might be able to see light flashing off exoplanetary oceans - it seems like the resolution is only a few leaps away). Then you have a target to start sending information to. This is a staggeringly difficult task - somehow you have to reduce your message (whatever it is) to a string of bits (?) that can be decoded with no assumptions. How do you communicate, inside a stream of information, how that information should be formatted? How to communicate that a certain portion of the dataflow represents a character? How do you introduce someone to the idea of discrete characters, or images?

    Here They Come: Contact, the old fashioned way, with aliens/craft within the solar system or even on earth. Very unlikely unless some sort of FTL transport exists. But potentially a lot easier than the situation above: This way, you can get some idea of who you're talking to, how they might look at the universe (ie by comparative anatomy), and also to get a back-and-forth-dialog going.

    It's a fascinating subject - I'd be interested to see what WC thinks about it.
  3.  (8976.6)
    Wouldn’t it make sense to wait on this until we actually have technology that would allow us to project a signal across the galaxy? This really smacks of government waste.
  4.  (8976.7)
    How is it government waste? No extra money being spent. Just naming the world body's rep in case aliens decide to say hello.
  5.  (8976.8)
    I can't believe I didn't get this job.
  6.  (8976.9)
    Indeed. You could have taken them to the pub. I am all for a write in campaign. Of course what would happen if the aliens were canine in appearance? Interstellar war?

    And someone needs to get this group a cool logo and a store with some merchandise immediately.
    •  
      CommentAuthorbjacques
    • CommentTimeSep 26th 2010
     (8976.10)
    Penn & Teller's "Invisible Thread". That is all.
    • CommentAuthoratavistian
    • CommentTimeSep 26th 2010
     (8976.11)
    Can't wait for the Yoo memo outlining how we're exempt from this process. Somewhere in DC or Virginia there is a group of lawyers crowded around a table drafting reasons why US National Security trumps UN protocol regarding when, how and in what order to talk to little green men.
  7.  (8976.12)
    I can't believe I didn't get this job.


    Probably something to do with the eels...
  8.  (8976.13)
    Probably something to do with the eels.


    Will they interfere with the probes?
    •  
      CommentAuthorPaladine
    • CommentTimeSep 27th 2010
     (8976.14)
    Just to be sure: you know this job is fake, right?

    Nevermind, carry on.
  9.  (8976.15)
    @3million

    Dude, the eels are probes! Ellis Probes! The aliens aren't only waiting for us to get our shit together. They want to make sure they're up to snuff before showing themselves...
    • CommentAuthor256
    • CommentTimeSep 27th 2010
     (8976.16)
    @Paladine/everyone else -

    The Guardian confirms that the entire thing seems to be a hoax or mistake, including a quote from Othman herself:
    It sounds really cool but I have to deny it


    Still, it's an interesting subject. What DO you say on the world's most important first date?
  10.  (8976.17)
    UN should go ahead and do it now just to throw everyone into a fit especially the far right freaks here in the U.S. who as said above would immediately start having a paper drawn up saying why they wouldn't follow the U.N. protocols.
    • CommentAuthorOddcult
    • CommentTimeSep 27th 2010 edited
     (8976.18)
    What DO you say on the world's most important first date?


    "Right, so we keep this quiet and gradually get people used to the idea over a few decades or so, yeah? Microscopic evidence of microbes first, then exoplanets, then simple mathematical messages based on Pi or something before televisual contact and a show-managed meeting somewhere out beyond Saturn? Okay, good plan. I think that's sorted then. Oh, but you want everyone in the Southern states of the US available for plausibly deniable happy anal fun times? Ah, go on then, they all fuck their livestock and no one will believe them anyway."
  11.  (8976.19)
    Oddcult, we don't all fuck our livestock. But hey, goats need lovin' too.
  12.  (8976.20)
    A whole bunch of folk have taken this story, plus a recent press conference from ex-military types insisting UFOs have been buzzing nuclear power stations for years... and concluded that Disclosure is coming, that the world governments (or, really, the US) are about to admit they Haz Alienz.
    Here's IO9 on the subject. Their jovial stance is a long way from the shrieking on a lot of the UFO blogs, but they manage to conflate the original article in just the same way. Time will tell... or, more likely, won't.