Scientists working at NASA and ESA announced today that they’re confident they’ve discovered signs of intelligent life on Earth. The biggest surprise of all is the totally unexpected finding that this intelligent life is most probably human in origin.
For decades the scientific community’s approach to searching for intelligent life has been to monitor the skies in quest of inexplicable regularly repeating signals. This, it was assumed, would indicate a technological alien intelligence. Over the years various sources of repeating signals have indeed been discovered but every one has been shown to have natural origins, as was for example the case with both pulsars and quasars.
As a result of repeated failure to detect intelligent life in this way, collaborating teams of scientists at NASA and ESA realized that the previous approach had failed because of a fundamental error in assumption. What if, these scientists asked themselves, endlessly repeating signals are the wrong thing to be looking for?
Clues to the fact that intelligent life would not emit endlessly repeating signals came from analysis of communications on our own planet. Using deep neural networks employing self-training heuristics based on billions of input signals from everyday life, NASA and ESA computers were able to determine that endlessly repeating signals are in fact a clear counter-indication of intelligence. Once the computer showed that endless chants of Lock Her Up! and Make ‘Murka Great Again! and Brexit Means Brexit! were signs of the complete absence of intelligence, the scientists were able to design a search algorithm that turned the conventional SETI-style approach on its head.
Piggybacking off sophisticated surveillance technologies employed by security agencies across many countries and recording the daily outputs of billions of human beings, NASA and ESA scientists looked for non-repeating signals that would contain an internally coherent structure and, it was hoped, a lexicon of more than the usual 500 mostly monosyllables found in nearly all standard inter-human communication these days.
After months of acquiring data and nearly a year of painstaking computer analysis, the scientists identified a source they began referring to as The Anomaly. After so many decades of failing to find any sign of intelligence, the NASA and ESA teams were naturally cautious and kept their tentative findings secret until a larger dataset and more detailed analysis revealed that there was no other possible explanation for the coherent signals they were detecting.
Once the teams were sure they’d detected intelligent life, the search was on to find the source. By analyzing signal origination and the timezone in which coherent signals were most often generated, scientists were able to pinpoint a small town in New Zealand just north of Auckland. Using sophisticated orbital mechanics, NASA was able to demonstrate that it would be possible to reach this destination without needing either an ion drive propulsion system nor utilizing gravitational slingshot effects because Air New Zealand has regular scheduled flights operating out of LAX on a daily basis.
Once the necessary funds had been appropriated from NASA’s regular Friday afternoon beerfest budget, a probe in the form of two postdoc students was dispatched economy-class, laden with recording instruments and under clear instructions to avoid consuming alcohol and narcotics during the mission.
Despite being taken aback by the unexpected climate conditions pertaining to the southern hemisphere, the probe separated from the carrier aircraft as planned and began to maneuver across the notoriously rugged New Zealand terrain, reaching base camp (a cheap hostel in downtown Wellington) that satellite imagery had indicated would be a suitable place to remain after the sun dipped below the local horizon, resulting in the probe going into shutdown mode.
The following sunrise the two postdocs were reactivated by means of an alarm call to their cellular communication devices and they resumed their traverse of the terrain. The mission plan called for them to cover approximately 50 kilometers by mid-afternoon local time. After refueling at a nearby café, the traverse commenced. For the first hour everything went smoothly and the quarter-second time delay between transmission and reception of signals caused no significant problems. At 87 minutes in, mission control experienced several heart-stopping seconds during which no signals were received from the probe, but once the postdocs emerged from the tunnel communication was restored and the rest of the transit proceeded smoothly.
At precisely 03.37 Universal Time the probe reached its destination: a nondescript suburban house with a dark green wooden front door. One of the postdocs was instructed by Mission Control to extend a finger and press the doorbell. Fortunately this complex maneuver was completed successfully and moments later the door opened.
First Contact occurred at 03.38.04 Universal Time. A historic moment for all of humanity.
Precise details of the contact are being kept secret by the NASA and ESA teams lest by revealing them others should be able to work out who and where this single known specimen of intelligent life is. Some scientists however are already strenuously rejecting the need for secrecy, arguing that all mission logs and signal recordings should be made available so other teams can check the accuracy of the claims being made, as frankly no one else believes that intelligent life has really been found. The immediate consensus in the scientific community is that either a technical error or a mistake in statistical analysis has led to an incorrect conclusion. A few scientists even wonder if the NASA and ESA teams have intentionally committed fraud, as was the case with both cold fusion and recent claims about human cloning.
Philosophers meanwhile say they are uncertain that the concept of intelligent life can be adequately defined as there have never been any examples by means of which to create a conceptual model, and historians the world over are pointing to millennia of overwhelming evidence that if intelligent life has ever existed anywhere in the universe the very last place one would find it would be on our own planet.
Evangelical Christians in the USA have started to demonstrate across the nation, pointing out that the very existence of the doctrine of Intelligent Design clearly shows that humans can’t be intelligent. The Pope meanwhile has issued a statement saying that while he personally can’t imagine what the word intelligent could mean, he’s sure that if there were to be any form of intelligent life it would certainly oppose the use of contraception.
Such has been the instant media storm over the NASA and ESA announcement that three separate Hollywood studios and Netflix have all just green lit major blockbuster movies centered around the concept of intelligent life eating the Earth’s core and causing seismic events that lead to vast CGI phenomenon in which ephemeral celebrities lurch wide-eyed from one product placement moment to another.
In an entirely unrelated and unremarked event, a certain Mr Clive Simmons Dalgliesh of 27 Cornwall Drive, Wangaparaoa, New Zealand, embarked today on a solo circumnavigation of the globe in a small fishing boat devoid of radio, satellite telephone, or any other communications device. Asked by a local journalist why he was undertaking such a hazardous trip without any means of staying in touch with the rest of the world, Mr Dalgliesh muttered something about having said too much already and then hastily clambered onto his boat and sailed off towards the horizon.