Scientists at the British Science Festival had a somewhat bizarre discussion at the event that centered around whether or not aliens may think we are sexist due to an image sent to extraterrestrials in 1972 on the Pioneer 10 spacecraft. A plaque was placed on the spacecraft that showed a naked male and female. The image was designed to educate extraterrestrials about humans and help them identify us as a friendly species. However, some scientists are now worried that the image could have sent the wrong message as it may be viewed as sexist and was not racially diverse.
The Daily Mail reports that an expert in the obscure field of politics of outer space, Dr. Jill Stuart, is concerned with the image that the Pioneer 10 plaque portrays to aliens that may stumble across it. It was noted that in the photograph, the nude white male was raising his hand in a manly fashion while the white woman appeared meek and submissive. Therefore, experts in outer space political realm want to send an updated version of the photograph that is more ethnically diverse and shows a stronger female image. She says the image sent into space in 1972 makes her “uncomfortable.”
“We really need to rethink that with any messages we are sending out now. Attitudes have changed so much in just 40 years. I would be uncomfortable with sending out any images or messages that include Western-dominated material.”
The idea to send out an updated message was proposed by a group of academics from universities who are actively searching for alien life. The group, UK SETI Research Network, want to send the updated message as soon as possible. Though the group notes that the old message is not an accurate depiction of today’s society, it does not say how it will ensure the ideas of today are align with that of the future either. It is noted that the closest star that could harbor life is ten light years away. Therefore, it could take an astonishing 200 years to even hear back from alien life forms from our closest potentially life-forming star. How can we be certain that any message we sent today will properly reflect the human race on earth 200 years from now?
Another concern posed by some in the group is that the message could attract the “wrong kind of alien.” They are worried the messages could fall into the hands of hostile extraterrestrials or aliens that are in hiding.
“The thinking was that the silence in the skies might be because alien civilizations are hiding from us, and that it might be stupid to attract attention.”
It was also pointed out that we have no idea what aliens from other planets may look like. Do they even have eyes to read our messages?
Take a look at the Pioneer 10 plaque above, do you think the image appears sexist?
[Image Credit: NASA]