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Ethics and aliens
The Panel at work
Image Credit: Ben Sachs

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When we meet aliens – and a lot of researchers think it is when and not if – how will we treat them? And how might they treat us?

Philosopher Ben Sachs brought together a panel for discussion at the Edinburgh Science Festival, combining viewpoints from  astrobiology, theology and philosophy, to consider potential human–alien interactions and what they tell us about how we live on Earth now. There were thought-provoking ideas and opinions raised – not least in the changes of opinion shown by the audience after the debate, compared to ideas held beforehand. Whether or not humans would come off well in their interactions with aliens, this  audience showed that we can still hear ideas and evaluate them, changing our minds in repsonse to new infomration. There's hope for the human race yet. 

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