I recently saw Independence Day: Resurgence. If you are a fan of the original movie, there are moments in the film you will love (really). The other two hours are absolute torture.
Now, this is not a movie review. I’m not going to talk about the really sub-par CGI and how this movie had all the flaws of the original (which were many) but none of the redeeming features that made us forgive the flaws and love the movie. I want to talk about the whole concept of alien invasion. Now, I do like alien invasion movies. They are the most implausible science fiction scenario, but they are also just plain good fun. But why are they implausible?
Well, think about it. If you are a member of an alien race that has mastered interstellar travel, then you are probably approaching class 1 civilization, and there is literally nothing that you would need that you would have to obtain by conquering another race. Not only could you literally produce it with little difficulty, but there are plenty of uninhabited exoplanets for the taking. No need at all to bother primitives such as ourselves.
But lets say there is a species out there that needs an inhabited planet. A literal military invasion is probably the stupidest thing you can do. Your species finds a nice planet named, say earth, and you want it. It looks good, all blue and green with nice fluffy clouds. The alien equivalent of bean-counters say “Nuts! An invasion costs money, and those indigenes are just advanced enough that one or two of us could actually lose our lives.”
So what’s an alien to do? Well, let’s say your species wants Lebensraum. Send some scouts ahead. Grab some natives, from the dominant species, and then maybe some of their allied species, like cows or dogs. Experiment on them. Collect DNA. Make crop circles. Then design a nice, unstoppable and fast acting retro-virus. Make sure the vector is simply air, and then seed the atmosphere with it. Wait a few years for the smell to wear off, and then move in with just a little clean up necessary. Any survivors will be a tiny amount and easily handled or ignored.
Instead of Lebensraum, let’s say we want minerals and heavy metals. Set up a mining operation and fight off the natives? Stupid. Instead, go grab an asteroid, a fairly good sized one. Accelerate it to, say 10 percent of light speed. Aim it at the planet. Boom! Instant asteroid field, no natives to fight, and much easier to mine.
Another absurd trope in these movies is that we humans, despite being centuries or millennia behind in comparison to galactic tech, always manage to figure out a way to defeat the aliens, some weakness or flaw that can be exploited. Really? H.G. Wells imagined that our little bacteria friends would do the job. A civilization able to cross interplanetary space and mount an invasion doesn’t figure alien microbes into the the situation. What, they missed microscopes and vaccines in their technological development? I don’t think so. Or in the original Independence Day, they take that idea but change it to a computer virus. So the aliens never had cyber warfare or the need to develop firewalls and antivirus? Sure.
Look, if they ever come like that, let’s hope we can negotiate. How advanced does their tech have to be to trash ours? How much more advanced were the conquistadors than the Aztecs? In the first gulf war, the Iraqis had 1960’s/70’s mostly Soviet era military technology. We had state of the art 80’s stuff. One decade difference, and they didn’t stand a chance, nor did they find some weird weakness to exploit which put an end to our victory and sent us packing (that took political actions). No, we’re doomed…
Of course, all this assumes that extra-solar intelligent biological entities or their equivalent exist. Fermi paradox, anyone? But if they do, they are probably about as interested in invading as you are in invading the ant nest in your back yard. Not only don’t ants have anything we need, but if they become a problem, we exterminate, we don’t invade.
And with all that, I still love a good alien invasion flick.