Academia and Silicon Valley need to take UFOs as seriously as the Government (Full Version)
By Rizwan Virk
Rizwan Virk is a venture capitalist and entrepreneur, founder of Play Labs @ MIT and author of The Simulation Hypothesis. An earlier, shorter version of this article appeared on NBCNews/THINK
In our era of life-changing innovation, there are typically three major pillars of innovation: government, academia,and industry. Today, there are major breakthroughs that could well come from the serious study of a phenomenon that is too often mocked in these circles: UFOs.
Recently, The government has reversed its official position of publicly ignoring UAPs (unidentified aerial phenomenon, the new trendy name for UFOs) and is starting to tackle the subject openly. But within academia and industry, the topic is still too frequently dismissed with a chuckle accompanied by some trite remark about “extraterrestrials” or “aliens” visiting us.
In February, for instance, one of the biggest innovators of this century, Elon Musk, was asked what he thought about the recent Pentagon acknowledgment that Navy pilots have seen objects flying in our airspace using advanced technology we can’t identify, let alone understand or explain or reproduce. Musk’s answer was, “Honestly, I think I would know if there were aliens,” and, honestly, this response could have come from any number of prominent scientists or industry figures.
Musk’s non-answer was revealing because it suggested that he wasn’t aware of — or interested in — basic unclassified facts about military sightings of UFOs, or that the government is looking into the possibility that they are made from advanced technology that our scientists can’t yet figure out.
In June of 2021, a new task force championed by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is supposed to submit an unclassified report on unidentified aerial phenomena to Congress. It comes as several erstwhile officials, including former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and two former CIA directors, have called for a more rigorous look at these sightings, and the topic has suddenly blown up in the media, with mainstream coverage from 60 minutes and most of the major news channels, including CNN and Fox News.