Welcome to Earth

Five paragraph essay vol.1

The Outside Context Problem

Many copies of this newsletter have appeared throughout the base. It is not clear who wrote it, or why those in charge are not reacting to its appearance.

Five paragraph essay vol.1
The Outside Context Problem

“Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” Arthur C. Clarke

With all due respect to Sir Clarke these two possibilities are not equally terrifying. One of these leads to a profound sense of loneliness that will never abate, the other is the kind of outside context problem with which we now find ourselves engaged.

“An Outside Context Problem is the sort of thing most civilizations encounter just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encounters a full stop.” Iain M. Banks, Excession

Our chief problems are, our defenses are not ready, we don’t know how best to get ready, and we don’t know their end goal.

Our defenses are not ready. In the age of nation states Departments of Defense have a chronic flaw. All advancements in strategy, all developments in technology, and all improvements in logistics are aimed at doing a better job winning the last war. Almost none of that will help us now. We have spent our war chest and more on everything we could think of to defeat our rival nation states. Our defenses are designed to decapitate known leaders, destroy immovable cities and industry, and to take and hold land. We are not ready.

We don’t know their weaknesses. Biologically they are not so different from us. Modern guns in the hands of well-trained soldiers took out two of their individuals. But did that hurt them? If so, how many do we have to kill to defeat them? Are our efforts better spent trying to defeat their crafts? Are they overly dependent on their leadership, or their communications, or their computers? Do they have an economy we can attack? Do they have supply lines? If humanity is to fight back, we will need to learn what weapon to use, and where to aim.

We don’t know their end goal. Have they run out of natural resources, and now they are here to take ours? Are they here to make us slaves, or meat? Are they here to extract our wealth by getting us addicted to their version of heroin or pop music? Are they here to convert us, or purge us? Are we to be soldiers fighting for them in a galactic war? Why did they come?

We know we can’t run. We don’t have a backup Earth to retreat to. We must be proactive. We must find them and learn their weaknesses. We must study their biology, their technology, and discover their goals. Then when we gain context, we can hold our ground, look them in the eye, and send them back where they came from.


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