Anyone Out There? Wanna Trade?
According to a recent article there may be a lot more habitable planets in the galaxy than we had thought. In fact, it's thought that more than half of stars like our sun are likely to have earth-like, water-bearing, temperate planets like our own blue celestial island.
If this is true, of course, it greatly expands the possible number of potential intelligent extraterrestrial species that we might encounter according to the famous Drake equation.
Further, Javiera Guedes at UC Santa Cruz suggests that, according to computer models, Alpha Centauri is prime to have one of these habitable planets in the Goldilocks zone. Alpha Centauri, as any geek knows, is one of our closest stellar neighbors and so is the most likely candidate for humankind's first interstellar jaunt.
In light of all this political scientist John Hickman's latest article in Astropolitics entitled "Problems of Interplanetary and Interstellar Trade" might be considered more than merely an academic study. An excerpt...
Economic exchange itself might be "alien" to the aliens. Members of an alien species may not experience the same intense sense of self that is exhibited in rationally self-interested economic exchange among humans. Instead, a collective identity could be dominant. Money might not exist and without it neither would complex markets or banking. If they do engage in economic exchange it might take a form akin to potlatch, the competitive gift-giving for status solely among members of the same tribe traditional among societies in Melanesia and the Pacific Northwest. Moreover an alien species might not live in separate societies and could thus have no conception of trade between different societies with different cultures.
Then again, maybe they are Ferengi.
For my fun speculation on a possible first encounter, feel free to read Signs of Intelligent Life.