That's what NASA is hoping to find in the next 20 years, with the launch of their new satellite. What form of confirmation will it be? Distant images of planets with the right atmospheres to encourage some type of life forms, or something grander, like an actual signal or some sort.
Of course some people believe we've had contact for decades, maybe centuries, maybe eons of time. They might even live among us. Scientists are split about contact... either it will happen, it never will happen, or "Please, God, save us from any aliens who do find us".
We Science Fiction authors certainly play with the literary possibilities. I'm probably in the 'Yes, it will happen, but not in our lifetimes' and the 'Oh, Shit!' camps. Asked about it on panels, two big question come into my mind: Why would they want to contact us?
First, if they're listening to us at all, they're hearing some of the first broadcasts we put out into the ether, so they're hearing a lot of "To the moon, Alice. To the moon" and "Ricky". Not too sure how that message would translate. Then there's all the news broadcast depicting our violence on ourselves, leaving them asking: Gee, if they're that mean to each other, how would we treat them?
Then there's the question of: Why would they want to come here?
If they're able to get here, they'd be a lot further advanced than us, so what motives are behind their visit. Seems like a long way to come just to say 'Howdy!' Judging by our radio signals, we're discouraging any 'peaceful' reason, unless they're super brave. That leaves a darker motive to consider, that we have something they want.
Our natural resources of water, oxygen, minerals and ores. Or our physical resources, millions of slaves, because that would be considered the natural order of things. Our whole planet?
If the motives are dark, they'd probably be better off terraforming the entire planet and wiping us out in the process, because humans just aren't a very nice species to deal with, yet. I say that hoping that as we get older, we get wiser and gentler. However, keeping that primal mean streak might be what saves us from evil alien overlords. There will always be part of us that will conspire against the yokes of slavery, dragging the rest of humanity with us.
Now CONTEST TIME.
We've explored where my mind goes, what do you think? Answer me this by the July 31, 2014 and you'll be entered into a contest to win a prize. Don't know what that is yet, but I'm going to be at San Diego ComiCon International all next week. So one lucky winner is going to get whatever special prize I bring back. It'll have to be a surprise, just like the aliens.