Social media is popular because communication empowers individuals. First and foremost, social interactions transfer vastly more information than is available to an individual in isolation. This enables the individual to adapt to circumstances based on a large pool of experiences reported by others. Adaptation to the risks from threats and the benefits of opportunities for prosperity is key for survival, providing an advantage to those with access to more information, according to the Darwinian natural selection of “survival of the fittest.”

Second, communication allows individuals to cooperate and enhance their ability to deal with threats or harvest limited resources. Here again, socialization promotes survival.

Common sense suggests that these considerations are universal and would reasonably apply also to planets beyond Earth and beyond our solar system. If extraterrestrial intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe, understanding aliens who may have survived much longer than we have (as our solar system is much younger than many others of the universe) could teach us skills that will promote the longevity of the human species. This is crucial in the face of environmental risks, like the eventual brightening of the sun — which will likely turn the Earth into a Mars-like desert within 1 billion years.

The main challenge in benefiting from alien advice lies in our ability to understand it. If we ever receive a message, signal or package from aliens, could we decode its intended meaning? This could be challenging since our communication skills were tailored in response to our terrestrial experience and not the Milky Way galaxy or the cosmos at large.

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