Thursday, August 24, 2006

How To Survive an Alien Invasion, part 1

There's been plenty written on how to survive an attack by hordes of the living dead, for example, meh (That's the sound a link makes!). But what about the altogether more plausible scenario of an alien invasion. I've decided to write a continuing series of posts on this topic, each covering a unique tactic for surviving should alien overlords attempt to invade, conquer, annihilate, or otherwise annoy the human race. Of course, the prime assumption here is that it is an actual invasion of some sort, rather than the ugly death-ray-from-space-without-warning scenario most prominently played out in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy docu-drama. There's just no helping that, without, say, a rebel alliance on your side or something.

Anywho, the format will go something like this: First, I'll provide the premise (since there are so many fiendish ways that aliens could invade, of course!), and then, I'll address at least one tactic by which the alien threat can be mitigated in at least some minor capacity. All for the good of mankind, mind you.

So without further ado:

Premise: Aliens infiltrate the planet by appearing to look just like us! Alternately, aliens make themselves known to us in some dramatic way, but again, they look just like humans.

Tactic: Before such an invasion happens (e.g., RIGHT NOW!), we must destroy every copy of any Looney Tunes cartoon, merchandise, recording, or other paraphernalia that exists. Why? Because I think no human, or at least no American citizen, fails to recall with deep understading the entire Looney Tunes milieu. Thus, that gives us a unique cultural identifier by which we can recognize one another in the face of this hidden invation. We can ask use the completion of catchphrases to identify one another ("What's up", says one person, "Doc", says the other, confirming his humanity), or simple trivia questions that only a human steeped in the lore of Looney Tunes would know. I have picked Looney Tunes because of its universal appeal, the fact that it has never explicitly been boycotted by Baptists, and its characters are, I feel, more memorable and uniquely human than, say, Disney's -- prone to human strengths as well as weaknesses. Of course, we must destroy such physical reminders because, as soon as the aliens invade, they can intercept our broadcasts, pilfer our stores, etc., and break our codes. Sorta like what would have happened if the Navajo Code Talkers had left their Navajo-English Dictionaries just lying around for any old Nazi to find back in WW2.

Following this principle also gives Americans a distinct advantage over non-americans, which is always good. I think Europe is already invaded by aliens anyhow. Only thing that makes sense, really.

More to come...

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Anonymous J to the D said...

One problem: how about all the Looney Tunes episodes we've spewed into the open universe via OTA TV broadcasts? As a halfway decent invading force, I'd hope an alien species would do at least a little SIGINT work before hauling it all the way over here just to snarf up all our smog or something.

Perhaps they'd just blast back old WB clips in sequences of primes a la "Contact". I can just see the astronomers at their radio telescopes..."WTF? I think that just said 'Kill The Wabbit'..."

6:57 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

True, but they wouldn't know that they were important until it was too late!

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Marty. said...

Hmmm...And with your vast readership, no doubt someone has downloaded this page to their laptop in a Starbucks WiFi hot spot. Luckily, the signal from WiFi is probably too weak to intercept once you get past Pluto. Unless...Unless the aliens have already sent out scouting parties! The won't reveal themselves until they have a thorough, natives knowledge of our culture!

BTW, I once taught a survey course at UCLA, something along the lines of "Compputers for Poets" I had the class do an essay on the Turing test, which is basically a test for successful AI. A version of the test is: AI is successful if a human interacting with a console can't tell if what's hooked up to the console is another human or a computer. They were supposed to argue whether and why they thought computers would ever be successful at stumping a human. This was in the mid 80s. I gave them stuff to chew on. For example, I claimed that human culture is so vast, intricate, and idiosyncratic that a computer would never know how to respond to certain culture specific cues. For example, if you sat down at your console an typed "Knock Knock", if the thing on the other end choked, you could be pretty sure it was a computer. If it responded "Who's there?", you'd have a good clue it was human. You could go from there. The WB Cartoons (which I agree are infinitely better than Disney) would be another avenue of attack.

1:56 PM  

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