If aliens observed all of human history, how do you think they would describe it?
A very exciting question! I think a lot of us are actually already sort of like the aliens when seeing our own distant past - up to World War II or even the present day. We are emotionally (thus, could objectively be) detached from all of those because most of history did not happen during our life time.
And what perception has history taught us about "ourselves" (read: "those humans") ?
Just go to your local book store in the history section and you'll see it, as if you are the alien who were tasked into describing what humans are by analyzing what we were thousands of years up until 50 years ago, or yesterday.
So you'd see (I won't cover all items!):
- Tales of thousands of years old warrior culture, all around the world.
- Tales of individuals with great minds who strived for peace.
- Tales of efforts to unify the world, for whatever reason whether peacefully or not (This includes Jengis Khan, Alexander the Great and the UN body).
- Tales of Earth's everchanging map of kingdoms and countries per every 1000 years or less - or the fact that we earthlings even have such things as borders!
- Tales of weapon and technologies that could end all wars and surface life on this planet along with it, but somehow one by one everyone seems to be acquiring them one way or another.
- Tales of our industrious and polutious nature, how we reshaped the face of our landscape but also wonders of human technological evolution, which goes up exponentially as described by the following graph:
Extremely violent and cruel, but very slowly getting better.
An alien species is likely to be extremely peaceful compared to us since it likely has managed to survive the leap to sentience far longer than us (and I mean by 100+ million years). They would be far removed from killing animals for food, and even farther removed from killing each other for petty reasons. They would likely view us as barely sentient beings ruled by very primitive instincts.
What are the two ingredients for wildly successful entertainment these days? Sex and violence. Our social development is lagging far behind our technological development.
This brings up the Great Filter theory and how many Filters an ancient alien civilization likely had to overcome. Obstacles to survival as a species. We face several now from nuclear weapons to pollution. Coming up soon are genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and AI. There are probably many more of which we likely can't even imagine. If our propensity for violence dominates we likely will not survive.
We have no idea.
We have only one example of specie able to reach a civilization-level. We can't know if we are above average or below average when it comes to violence, cooperation, individualism, ethics and so on.
For Aliens we are perhaps a care-bear-like specie, with a ridiculously high level of empathy. Or we are an ultra-violent specie almost unable to cooperate.
We have no reference outside the other species on our planet.
So let's compare us to other animals.
Average annual murder rate for humans is currently between 4/100 000 and 6/100 000 (in the current world).
The number of death in genocide and wars is inferior to 100 000 per year. For 7 000 000 000 humans, this adds 1.42 death for 100 000 habitats per year.
We have a life expectancy of 70 years (world average).
So, including wars, genocides and murders, 0.38% of humans died killed by other humans. This is not a yearly probability. This is the total probability at the birth for an human of being murdered or of dying in a war.
Let's compare this 0.38% of humans killed by other humans to other species.
The level of intraspecific violence and murder in majority of the other mammal species is height.
For most of written history it has been a struggle which can be summarized in the following stages of time.
1 - Stone Age man learns to make and use tools.
2 - Societies evolve with Kings.
3 - The written word evolves and various dictators try and take the world over.
4 - Machines start to be powered by steam.
5 - Electricity is harnessed
6 - Microchip followed by computer is invented.
During all this history man's main occupation has always been war. This is sometimes on a small scale, sometimes on a large scale, but the basic principle started with crude spears and now with nuclear missiles has always been there. There has never really been a time when peace reigned supreme. The only thing missing from the story of Mankind and the Earth is the ending which I have no doubt will happen within the next 500 years.