The comment refers to Iain M. Banks's 1996 novel Excession, specifically, the idea of an "outside context problem" (OCP):
The idea of an OCP reportedly came to Mr. Banks while he played the computer game Civilization, wherein players control the evolution of a society from a single group of nomads to a global superpower.Based upon the idea of an OCP, perhaps prudence recommends that we not advertise our existence to alien civilizations?
Mr. Banks had developed a successful and prosperous medieval island society that he thought was doing quite well, until another civilization showed up off his shore with steel-hulled battleships. The arrival of the technologically advanced newcomers, he realized, posed for his simulated citizens a problem so far outside their normal context that they were effectively helpless.
Any society capable both of detecting our presence and of crossing the vast distances of space to reach Earth would be so far beyond us technologically as to leave humanity, to say the least, at a disadvantage. The first alien starship to arrive would be, to us, very much like those strange metal battleships to reach the shores of Mr. Banks’ digital kingdom.I'm pretty risk adverse in general, so the "lie low" strategy seems sensible. Sure, our interstellar neighbours might be like the Vulcans (RIP Leonard Nimoy). But they also might be like the aliens in, er, Alien and Aliens.