The comfort zone of speculators seems to be anywhere between 10,000 - 50,000 years as regards how far advanced an alien civilization might be compared to our own. But, how about instead of such a tiny span, consider the millions, tens of millions, or even billions of years. Indeed, since the visible universe is guessed to be some 13 or so billion years old, isn't it conceivable that even at the center of our own milky way galaxy, some 26,000 light years from us, there might exist some extremely ancient race(s) which evolved and achieved a billion or billions of years before us? Since the oldest star in our own galaxy is something like 13 billion years old, you shave off a few billion years for the planets to coalesce, and let's say you're left with beings anywhere from 8-9 billion years ahead of us. Now, of course we could not fathom this because of our limited imaginations and need to keep all others trapped within our familiar frame of reference, why is it not possible this can be true? Instead, we default to futurists and long dead scientists who may have left us a blueprint, albeit extremely skeletal, and hope they are or were correct in their calculations. This, we project on our future saying Einstein said thus and so and it is law. What if it's not law? Einstein made a number of mistakes and admitted so. His spooky action at a distance, while he tried to run from it because he didn't want to deal with it, ultimately proved correct. So if the man was wrong about A, he could be wrong about B as well. And if not wrong, maybe he did not live long enough to offer us a complete picture. Certainly, they claim he died before finishing his theory of special relativity, but maybe he didn't and the results were too valuable to release so they left us with the last piece of the puzzle missing. Now, let's imagine a far older race from far away had come across this discovery three billion years prior. Even 10 million years prior. Imagine what further advancements they made which would have defeated every conceivable condition and adversity. There would be no limitation to what they could do. We use our own maximum knowledge and apply it to them, claiming we know for sure what is possible and what is not, that galactic distances are too vast, and all of the other nonsense while we are still tethered to solid fuel rockets and other means of launching our orbital vehicles. String theory, dark matter, strange matter, god particles...we imagine a theory of everything with a science a few hundred years old and preach it as gospel truth. It makes no sense. Only within the past couple of years have we even glimpsed the rim of the subatomic world and already we have pronouncements of what we may find, when truth be told we have absolutely no clue what awaits us on the eve of true discovery. First Steven Hawking said time travel was impossible, then reversed himself, and now some Japanese researchers say once again it cannot be. Tomorrow it will be. Do you see the reoccurring theme yet? Who made them final arbiters of what is or could be? Seriously. They are no more than men, biased, with reputations and careers, like any other, and their training is as such that disallows them to take too far a leap into the unknown for fear of being drubbed out of their respective fraternities whereupon all of their work suddenly becomes circumspect…shades of Chladni and his meteorite hypothesis, Gauss with his crazy idea of non-Euclidian geometry, Crick and Watson and their absolutely baseless DNA claims, and Chandrasekhar and that black hole business. If we listened to their detractors, we’d live in quite a totally different world today, wouldn’t we?
Let's address the issue of alleged gene manipulation.
Proxima Centauri, is our closest neighbor. it is just over 4 light years away, or 39,900,000,000,000 kilometers distant. It is a red dwarf. Even at Voyager I's speed of 17 km/sec. It would take it some 73,000 years to reach our nearest interstellar neighborhood. Ok, that established, let's say there was life somewhere around the Alpha Centauri system, and this life originated 250,000,000 years ago since this system is older than our own by half a billion to one and a half billion years. That would make the closest possible intelligent technologically adept race well in excess of anything even our greatest science fiction authors could fathom. There is nothing closer to us that might have supported life (even proxima couldn't, according to our estimation of what's needed to support life, but Centauri A and B certainly could), so then at a bare minimum, we necessarily would be a minimum of a quarter billion years less advanced than any alien race we might run into out there. Head inward to the galactic core, we are left behind by several billion years. Go farther past our own galaxy to one far removed and we are 10+ billion years removed. Don't even speak of parallel universes because then we might run into the hundreds of billions or trillions of years.
To be realistic, it wouldn't take a great deal of effort for an alien race 250 million years more advanced than us (at a minimum, based on the vaunted insurmountable galactic distances) to decode us. Hell, we've already mapped the genome of certain animals in a relatively small timeframe; some even say we've completely decoded the human genome. With recorded abduction accounts going as far back as the 1960s, we have the story of people being probed, thrown onto cold laboratory tables and poked and prodded. Certainly the alien is looking for something, but it's only our conjecture that they are tinkering with DNA or making of hybrids. They are inscrutable and to try to guess what they really want is an exercise in futility and wishful thinking. It's all a wild guess. Of course, you have the more detailed cases like Betty and Barney Hill wherein both were apparently used for some generative testing, as both reported some testing of their reproductive systems. There are probably many varied advanced races out there and they may associate with each other, but it does not mean that just because they reached us they are all on par technologically. We can surmise that contact had been initiated between numerous ones, and reception was quite different than what one might expect contact would result in here, now, on earth. Perhaps these others developed differently, discovered and developed radically different technologies than we, or even were imbued with mental faculties and abilities we do not have. Perhaps contact was peaceable, and made only with only those very much unlike us, and never with those in our stage of development, or lack thereof. These less advanced aliens could have been granted knowledge and technology by much more advanced benefactors once deemed worthy. It's possible, according to the ancient records recorded on the rocks, and revealed in written sources such as the Vedas and Egyptian hieroglyphics, that those from outer space had indeed made contact with us or even brought us here in the first place, but it seems that whatever transpired between that contact and today, there was obviously a decision made to never openly reveal themselves to us again until some condition is met. It's possible in the past they'd been more liberal and trusted us with knowledge we couldn't control and we used it to kill. Maybe they tried and tried again to help us but we turned the knowledge to destructive ends, and they said no more until we evolved. Maybe it's not genetic testing they are doing on a random basis- maybe they are looking for something; maybe they are looking for the next MAN, the next evolutionary step, and until they find him, they go on looking because it's required because current man could not make use of that knowledge due to the fact their brains could not assimilate it. There is no reasonable reason for the alien to tinker with DNA over millennia instead of rounding up a few thousand people for the sake of genetic diversity and establishing a colony of them off-world where they would multiply over time and give the researchers all the DNA they'd ever need, instead of going through the trouble of abducting, implanting and then wiping the memory which, as they'd already have foreknowledge of, the suggestions could be overridden via hypnosis. Without a doubt, the human mind is well known and mapped down to the atomic level by these things, so there is no mystery there- more like they want the accounts to eventually get out, or they don't care either way. This is another case where we are framing the events in our own human outlook- it's what WE would do. It strangely resembles OUR genetic experimentation. Just like we can't know the who and why something like crop circles and animal mutilations because they are beyond our ability TO know. The idea of human-alien hybrids as an interface to modern man to acclimate him slowly to the reality of alien life is pure foolishness, and ego tripping; as if man is so important in the eyes of the alien that such pains as to create an entirely different species so as to not unduly freak out humans in the course of their introductions should be taken. Another example of human centric thinking. Scrub the idea of the dying race too. Humans, of course have that necessary restorative gene that will be the savior of aliens galaxy-wide. Pure crap. More human-centric, savior fantasies. Time travelers? Evolved humans from a million years from now who've lost the ability to reproduce and hence a trip back in time was necessitated in order to harvest genetic material that would , yes, you guessed it, SAVE US. Hell, if mankind from a million years in the future didn't figure out how to reverse genetic damage or maintain for a later date some prior genetic material JUST IN CASE, then there isn't anything we in 2011 can do for them. And, if aliens even more advanced than that need modern man's help to survive, then there's now way they'd have made it as far as they did in the first place. None of those scenarios make any sense whatsoever outside of ego massage or savior complex on a universal scale, kind of like those religious nuts who want to baptize the aliens and introduce them to jesus so that they will be saved, or else, view them as demons in need of destruction.
We should not think of the alien as just a gray or green or blue skinned human with merely a different appearance. You can bet that the oft-cited BIG HEAD of the alien contains structures hitherto unknown to us, and just as the chimp's brain is anywhere between 300 - 500 cc and modern man's brain is around 1400 cc, but this doesn't account for why we are able to produce nuclear physicists like Stanton Friedman, and so far the chimpanzee community has yet to progress beyond sign language. Instead, think of it as an accretion of differences that add up to magnitudes of ability greater. So it would logically be with the alien who may have 2100+ cc brains with structures we haven’t evolved, as well as DNA activated that has not been so in humans, and entirely different DNA which may result in them having natural abilities we simply do not. Look no further than those special human cases who remember all they see and hear, and those who are like human computers as concerns numbers. Is it possible that in a few thousand years all minds may have total recall at will and the ability to out factor today's greatest machines? With genetic manipulation, I'm sure it is. Consider then the advanced alien who may be able to think in ways physically impossible to us due to physical limitation. Consider too that the alien may be considerably genetically modified in these areas to maximize intellect. The greatest recorded human IQ might be in the 300 range, and to us, today, that seems like a lot, but that's only to us. We are not, on average, too intelligent. Sure, we're smarter than a chimpanzee in the majority of areas...yet we lag behind them in various tests...but we are still very much cavemen in suit and tie, on the galactic scale of things. There’s nothing we as a species have dreamt or invented that those out THERE haven’t, and long before we ever did. Conditions and elements could also be present on their worlds or in their areas of activity that enabled entirely different types of technology than the types we have developed here on Earth. Unknown elements, a wholly expanded periodic table of elements with things which do not exist here, and never will, or if they do we have not developed the sophistication of instrumentation to detect them.
So far, every theory of the alien and every sci fi movie portrayal pretty much lacks vision and downplays possibilities and shrinks the differences, most probably due to Human ego and the idea skulking in the shadows at the far back of the mind, that maybe, if they DID decide to invade, we’d have a snowball’s chance in hell. The conquistadores weren’t a thousand years more technologically advanced than the Aztecs- the invaders even found out the cotton soaked in salt brine armor was more resilient than their own steel armor- but look at the result of that confrontation. That was in 1519, not even 500 years ago. In those 500 years, we’ve developed the nuclear bomb. Imagine if the Aztecs of 1519 faced off with a modern army with modern weapons- now imagine how it would be for us if we were really invaded by an alien race a mere 500 years more advanced, if technological development kept pace with what we’ve seen on Earth. The Aztecs vs. The U.S. Air Force launching nuclear warheads from stealth fighter aircraft is what we’d have. The same would happen to us, comparatively. Fast forward a thousand years, a million, 500 million, and you can surmise it would be like facing off with Q from the Star Trek: The Next Generation TV series. Hardly a movie you’d pay to see, where some disembodied non-physical alien super being possessed of what we’d consider godlike power, subjugates an entire world in the span of the blink of an eye.
Even the master himself, Arthur C. Clarke, a die-hard true science guy who put the science in science fiction, in his book Rendezvous with Rama, cannot bring himself to step into fiction even an inch more than might upset the readership, in his need to portray the spaceship as a huge cylindrical object spinning at a high rate of speed and thus creating the inertia necessary to create a simulation of gravity- he cannot put on the page “artificial gravity” by some unknown means. He just cannot do it. Even he is stymied by science in its current state. TV series like Star Trek and Galactica have inventions like gravity plating, and warp cores, whatnot because it’s visionary science fiction not bound totally to current data. This is what I think we lack as a people- that imagination and vision possessed even 60 years ago by the pulp writers. They envisioned a lot of what is commonplace today but at the time was viewed as ridiculous or impossible. We had dreamers once, not afraid to think outside of the paradigm.