I recently thought of the possibility of this scenario while reading about the Fermi paradox. This may sound highly unlikely and like the plot of a sci-fi horror movie, and there is no evidence that it will happen. However, is there a possibility of this happening?
Highly technologically advanced aliens become aware of our existence or are already aware and decide to torture us (possible motivations are listed below).
They are able to make themselves invisible to us and travel to Earth or to send AI to do the same. Then, they enter our bodies (e.g. through nanobots). They edit our genomes to make us immortal and only able to do things that are necessary to keep ourselves alive (e.g. drinking water). Or they upload our minds.
They can then cause us pain and even edit our genomes to cause us to experience more pain (e.g. by adding more pain receptors). It could be possible for them to torture us until the end of the universe, if they have the ability to generate enough energy to keep us conscious. Even after the end of the universe, it might be possible for them to torture us in a different universe (Zeeya Merali writes about the possibility of creating a new universe in A Big Bang in a Little Room).
The following consists of more of my ideas about this. Obviously, please feel free not to read it.
Possible motivations for why aliens may want to torture us include:
- They (or a group or an individual) have evolved to feel sadistic pleasure when they harm others who don't belong to their group.
- They may gain feelings of status or power from harming us.
- They may feel a strong desire for justice and wish to punish us for the actions of a small number of people who harm others (e.g. animals).
- They may wish for aliens from other societies/planets to know about their technological abilities or cruelty (less likely).
- They (or a group or an individual) develop a mental illness that causes them to wish to harm others. This seems less likely because such a technologically advanced society would likely be able to edit their own genomes to prevent and treat mental illness or would have non-biological bodies.
A possible reason for why aliens may torture us, without necessarily wanting to, is:
- If their AI is hacked or programmed to harm others who don't belong to their group, the AI may decide to harm us.
Reasons why this scenario, although unlikely, may be possible:
- The universe is extremely large, and some scientists believe that it is possible or likely that aliens exist. For example, https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a32603529/math-formula-aliens-exist/.
- If aliens exist, there may be aliens who are much more intelligent and/or technologically advanced than us.
- Intelligent beings may be capable of being cruel toward others.
Reasons why this scenario is unlikely include:
- There is the possibility that we are the only life (or intelligent life) in the universe. So far, we haven't found evidence of aliens.
- As far as we know, no aliens have visited Earth (there is the possibility that they have without our knowledge). This suggests that it's likely that aliens cannot visit, don't want to visit, or/and are not aware of us.
- Highly intelligent aliens who live in a technologically advanced society are unlikely to care about us or to be concerned about what's happening on Earth.
- They would likely be able to edit their own genomes or to program themselves to always experience positive emotions and pleasure. They would then be less likely to be motivated to travel to Earth and torture others.
- Highly intelligent aliens may be more likely to have evolved to be kind toward others.
- It could take at least hundreds of years for aliens to travel to Earth, depending on how far away they are (unless they are able to travel faster than the speed of light).