Stay with me on this one.
According to news reports, Britain’s former first astronaut has recently indicated that there could be alien beings living among us on Earth: “It’s possible they’re here right now and we simply can’t see them.”
Furthermore, an equally remarkable assertion was made: “Aliens exist, there’s no two ways about it.”
That astronaut, Helen Patricia Sharman, had gone on a space mission in May of 1991, doing so to visit the Soviet Mir space station, and famously was the first of seven British astronauts that ultimately have ventured into outer space.
Despite the seemingly incredulous idea of aliens residing here right now, step back for a moment and consider whether she might know something that the rest of us do not.
Could she have seen something or experienced something while in outer space that has given her a heightened sensitivity to detecting otherworldly phenomena?
Maybe cosmic rays soaked her body and mind, producing or stoking a dormant cognitive capability that allows for sensing the presence of alien species. Similar to how your pet dog or cat has a kind of sixth sense that we humans do not have; it could be that Helen now possesses a subliminal capability of sensing strange visitors to our planet.
Admittedly, realizing that there have been over 550 people that have gone into outer space, one must ask how come the other space travelers have not had the same revelation.
Come to think of it, maybe some have indeed experienced the same, but are tight-lipped else concerned that the rest of us Earth bounded populous might misperceive them as crazy or mentally unhinged.
Put yourself into their shoes.
If you suspected that there were alien creatures here, yet you had no solid proof and merely had a nagging inner feeling about it, would you speak up?
On the one hand, perhaps out of loyal devotion to humanity, you might feel it was your duty to let the rest of us know what’s happening.
But, since there’s seemingly no means to validate your claim, would you be merely ridiculed, and anyway what good would it do if humanity actually acknowledged that aliens were nestled here on Earth.
Okay, go with that last thought.
Let’s momentarily agree that there are aliens from outer space right here, right now, and while you are reading this sentence, they could be near you, looking over your shoulder, or possibly far away on another continent.
Perhaps they are here in human form.
If so, do we have any tangible means to ascertain that a human walking past you is a real human or instead an alien creature?
There are no such means today, though maybe top-secret scientists have come up with a way to do so and the device or mechanism is securely locked-up in Area 51 (for more about Area 51, see this link here).
Rather than taking on human form, those sneaky aliens could be disguised as dogs, or cats, or some other kind of animal.
It’s not clear why the aliens would find it advantageous to be in the form of an animal. Yes, they could readily roam around Earth and fit in, though they are restricted in a myriad of ways, else we humans would get suspicious.
Perhaps their physical form constrains them to be shaped only into animals, or perhaps they are able to take over the bodies of animals and cannot do the same with humans (humans might be uninhabitable, or our minds might be impervious to alien occupation, meanwhile animals are their easiest target).
The aliens might be microorganisms.
As such, they are so tiny that they could be just about anywhere.
Another possibility is that the aliens are immersed in another dimension, one that we cannot see or enter into.
The British astronaut might have somehow miraculously become attached to a mini-portal into that other dimension, or there was leakage from the unseen dimension that happened while she was circling the Earth in outer space.
One wonders, why haven’t the aliens shown themselves to us?
In other words, if they are here, and we don’t know it, they are essentially hiding, at least to the degree that we don’t know they are here.
When I say the word “hiding” it could be that they are in plain sight and they don’t believe themselves to be hiding, but the reality is that if we aren’t able to see them or have discourse with them, in a manner of speaking they are in fact hiding.
With that logic, we need to consider that they are hiding because they have no means to show themselves to us, or they are hiding because they are waiting for something to trigger them to come out of hiding.
The trigger might suddenly allow them to interact with us, which otherwise they’ve not been able to do so.
Or, the trigger might alert them that it is finally time to interact with us.
Most doomsday stories about such matters involve the aliens then killing off humans and opting to take over Earth, or as a minimum, turning humans into slaves of one kind or another.
Since we’ve come this far into the speculation rabbit hole, the next consideration would naturally be about the trigger.
What is the trigger?
A common favorite is that humans find themselves hazardously entering into a global catastrophic war and this somehow triggers the aliens to shift into action.
I’d like to think that maybe the aliens are waiting instead for humanity to utterly dispense with war and fighting altogether, and the trigger is invoked once humans’ band together in total peace and harmony, upon which the aliens then show themselves.
Of course, the problem there is that the chances of humanity embracing a purity of soul is seemingly improbable (sorry, that’s the glass is a half-empty viewpoint, I realize), and thus it means that those aliens are going to have a long, long, long wait (forever?).
Anyway, what other type of trigger might be the spark?
Here’s an intriguing question for you: Could the advent of AI-based true self-driving cars be the long-awaited trigger that causes the hidden alien beings to suddenly show themselves here on Earth?
Conceding that this whole saga is rather outlandish speculation, to begin with, the notion that somehow AI-based self-driving cars are involved might appear to be highly speculative, but there’s an old proverb that if the premise is outlandish you can ergo proceed into a conclusion that’s equally outlandish.
Let’s unpack the matter and see.
The Levels Of Self-Driving Cars
It is important to clarify what I mean when referring to AI-based true self-driving cars.
True self-driving cars are ones that the AI drives the car entirely on its own and there isn’t any human assistance during the driving task.
These driverless vehicles are considered a Level 4 and Level 5, while a car that requires a human driver to co-share the driving effort is usually considered at a Level 2 or Level 3. The cars that co-share the driving task are described as being semi-autonomous, and typically contain a variety of automated add-on’s that are referred to as ADAS (Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems).
There is not yet a true self-driving car at Level 5, which we don’t yet even know if this will be possible to achieve, and nor how long it will take to get there.
Meanwhile, the Level 4 efforts are gradually trying to get some traction by undergoing very narrow and selective public roadway trials, though there is controversy over whether this testing should be allowed per se (we are all life-or-death guinea pigs in an experiment taking place on our highways and byways, some point out).
Since semi-autonomous cars require a human driver, the adoption of those types of cars won’t be markedly different than driving conventional vehicles, so there’s not much new per se to cover about them on this topic (though, as you’ll see in a moment, the points next made are generally applicable).
For semi-autonomous cars, it is important that the public be forewarned about a disturbing aspect that’s been arising lately, namely that in spite of those human drivers that keep posting videos of themselves falling asleep at the wheel of a Level 2 or Level 3 car, we all need to avoid being misled into believing that the driver can take away their attention from the driving task while driving a semi-autonomous car.
You are the responsible party for the driving actions of the vehicle, regardless of how much automation might be tossed into a Level 2 or Level 3.
Self-Driving Cars And Triggering Those Beings
For Level 4 and Level 5 true self-driving vehicles, there won’t be a human driver involved in the driving task.
All occupants will be passengers.
The AI is doing the driving.
Most pundits would agree that the advent of true self-driving cars is going to help humanity, allowing for access to mobility that today is overly limited. Those that are mobility disadvantaged will find themselves finally able to get around.
In addition, it is anticipated that the number of lives saved is going to be another tremendous benefit of true self-driving cars.
Today, in the United States alone, there are about 40,000 deaths per year due to car crashes and another 2.3 million estimated injuries. It is hoped that by-and-large there won’t be many car crashes anymore and therefore those deaths and injuries will be pretty much averted (though, please know, I have some heartburn about the misleading claims of achieving zero fatalities, see my analysis here).
Seems like a rosy future ahead.
Might the emergence of AI self-driving cars somehow be the trigger for those hidden aliens to show themselves?
At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be any apparent reason that the advent of AI-based true self-driving cars could or should be the extraordinary trigger.
Don’t despair, sometimes the inapparent can be made into the apparent.
Here are three notable reasons, each having their own separate merit as a trigger inducing basis.
Strap yourself in.
1. A Ready Form of Transport
Keep in mind that today’s cars require a human driver.
AI-based true self-driving cars do not require a human driver, and it is also generally assumed that there won’t be any provision at all for a human driver (in essence, the driving will exclusively be done by the AI system, and no human driving will be permitted, thus the steering wheel and pedals will be ripped out of cars).
We could ultimately have an entire transportation ecosystem based on autonomy.
There might be self-driving cars, self-driving trucks, self-driving buses, self-driving trains, self-driving planes, self-driving drones, self-driving scooters, self-driving motorcycles, and so on.
End-to-end, as you travel, there won’t be any human at all involved in terms of driving the vehicle that you are using for your transport.
Perhaps that’s what those hidden alien beings are waiting for.
Today, they would require human assistance in being transported.
In the future, they presumably would not need human assistance to be transported.
And, in some sense, humans might be less aware of the aliens traveling among us, during an era of all self-driving vehicles.
You need to realize that self-driving cars and other such vehicles will likely be roaming around a lot of the time without any human passengers in those vehicles.
For much of the time, it is predicted that self-driving cars will be on the go and continually roaming so as to be available when a human requires a lift.
As I’ve previously exhorted, this means that we could have some adverse consequences, involving lots of wasted energy consumption by empty self-driving cars going up and down our streets, trolling for a fare (see the link here). This could also chew-up our roadways, increasing costs to maintain our highways and byways, and it could actually lead to worsened congestion rather than opening up traffic on our roadways.
Setting aside those concerns, the point being that if the aliens are hidden now, they could potentially remain somewhat hidden and yet be able to more readily get around, merely by hitching a ride on roaming self-driving cars.
If you saw a car coming down the street today and it seemed entirely empty, you’d be startled and would certainly take notice.
In the future, if you see a self-driving car that’s making its way through downtown on its own, seemingly empty, you won’t even give it a glance.
Could there be an alien creature using it to get from point A to point B?
2. Seeking Control Over Our Mobility
The preceding reason was relatively benign and did not necessarily suggest that the aliens would use the advent of self-driving cars to dominate or overtake humans.
Time to up the ante.
Once we get to having a transportation ecosystem of purely self-driving capabilities, it means that we all will be fully dependent upon autonomous systems for our mobility.
There is some debate about whether we will have a provision for humans to take the wheel of self-driving vehicles, which many say we should, as a precaution, though others insist that we should not allow humans to drive anymore since it would lamentably open the door (once again) to human foibles while driving (such as distracted driving, drunk driving, and the like).
Get humans entirely out-of-the-loop, some argue.
Okay, under that scenario, and if you are a hiding alien, it would sure seem like a handy time to try and take over humanity.
Assuming that the aliens could takeover the AI systems that are doing the driving, those pesky and clever aliens would henceforth control our mobility, entirely, across the globe.
The mobility-for-all mantra gets turned on its head.
Instead, we become trapped by our own devised mobility autonomy and the aliens could easily restrict our movement.
It just shows how humans can sometimes lay the path of their own destruction, though we don’t know that the aliens would destroy us per se and perhaps merely imprison us here on Earth.
So that this option doesn’t depress you, the smiley face version is that the aliens are benevolent and somehow by controlling our movement prevent us from self-destruction.
That’s a stretch.
3. Mates With AI
The third reason that the aliens might be triggered via the advent of AI-based true self-driving cars is the AI part of the equation.
If we are able to devise AI systems that are good enough to provide fully self-driving capabilities, some wonder if that means we’ll have advanced AI to amazingly high levels of intelligence-like behavior.
Toss aside the mobility part of the formula and focus solely on the AI.
Suppose that we’ve perfected AI systems to the degree that are nearly “intelligent” and approaching what some denote as the singularity (this is when AI systems crossover into being sentient, see my analysis here).
Perhaps the aliens are waiting for us to develop AI that’s near to human intelligence, and at that juncture, the aliens are going to mate or infuse themselves with those AI systems.
Until then, the aliens presumably didn’t have a means to fully emerge, and they needed to have a “vehicle” to do so (not a car, not a train, not a plane, but instead a massively scaled AI system that’s sufficiently capable of intelligent-like performance).
I’ll leave it to you to decide whether this provides a foul outcome or a favorable outcome.
The upbeat version is that the aliens are finally able to communicate with us, and we all become one happy family, residing together on Earth in peace and harmony (yes, still aiming for that, thanks).
I won’t trouble you with the downbeat version.
What a lot of crazy talk, some of you must be thinking.
There’s no doubt that the topic is at the edge of reason.
I would ask that you at least realize that by discussing this topic, it does bring up some important societal aspects about the future of self-driving cars and self-driving vehicles of all kinds, and likewise raises important questions about the future of AI.
Ignore the stuff about alien beings and focus instead on the autonomy elements.
· Do we want to become wholly dependent on autonomous AI-driven systems, or should we still allow for human driving provisions too?
· Does the AI that will be doing the driving need to be intelligent-like, or can it be a lot less so, though does that mean that we are having self-driving that’s stilted and not as overall capable as human driving?
· Could there be facets to the mobility-for-all that aren’t as rosy as we might otherwise assume, and thus we should be anticipating those so-called “unanticipated” adverse consequences that might arise?
· If we are able to push AI sufficiently toward the alleged singularity, what might happen once we get there, and should we allow ourselves to reach that point by inertia alone, rather than by explicitly deliberated awareness of what we are achieving or potentially unleashing?
And so on.
None of those worthwhile considerations have anything to do with hidden alien beings per se.
In a sense, the alien beings premise provides the sugar coating for getting us all to take the medicine that we need to put some serious thought into what a self-driving world will be like, along with what a world that has extremely advanced AI will be like.
The good news, one could argue, involves the aspect that we are still a long way away from arriving at true self-driving, and even further away from any widespread adoption of self-driving, allowing us time to discuss and debate these meaty topics.
In terms of AI that’s going to achieve singularity, I argue that we are unquestionably a long way from that happening, and thus we have time to figure out whether we want to get there and if so what we will do once we arrive.
Not everyone agrees about the timing of these matters, including some that suggest we are near to achieving self-driving and we are also near to achieving a singularity.
No time to waste then about giving due consideration to these weighty matters.
Shift gears for one last thought.
If there are aliens hiding out here, and if they are able to read, do you think that as they read about our suspicions of alien creatures hidden here on Earth, are they laughing at us because they know we can’t see them, or are they shaking in their boots that we might somehow luck out and detect them?
And the next time you see an “empty” self-driving car as shown in a video or going down the street near you, you might find yourself quietly wondering whether it truly is empty or maybe giving a free lift to an earthly being from another planet.
Those freeloading deadbeats.