UFOs may be evidence of aliens or not – we’ll have to see what the White House report says. Clemson philosopher and biologist Kelly Smith examines these issues and more. He is one of the leaders in the emerging community of scholars dedicated to exploring the many social, conceptual and ethical issues surrounding space exploration, especially our search for life on other planets. 

As you’re covering the White House report in the coming days and weeks, we’d like to make Smith available to speak on any of the below issues: 

  • How should we assess claims about UFOs?  At what point does the “alien hypothesis” become scientifically respectable?
  • What responsibility do humans have to protect/preserve extraterrestrial life? If we find Mars is inhabited, should we – as Carl Sagan famously argued – “Leave Mars for the Martians”?
  • Should we consider colonizing other worlds? If so, how?
  • Should we be attempting to message potentially inhabited alien worlds, as ventures like The Interstellar Beacon Project are currently planning? 
  • What protocols – there are currently almost none – should be in place to govern first contact? 
  • Is it ethical to genetically engineer humans to help them live off-world?
  • How should we use the “resources” in space? Should they be used for the common good of humanity or should we allow private ownership and profit, like advertising on the moon?
  • Is it possible to “pollute” a world without life?