From Ian Crawford at Space.com:
Beyond the more narrowly intellectual benefits of astrobiology are a range of wider societal benefits. These arise from the kinds of perspectives – cosmic in scale – that the study of astrobiology naturally promotes.
It is simply not possible to consider searching for life on Mars, or on a planet orbiting a distant star, without moving away from the narrow Earth-centric perspectives that dominate the social and political lives of most people most of the time. Today, the Earth is faced with global challenges that can only be met by increased international cooperation. Yet around the world, nationalistic and religious ideologies are acting to fragment humanity. At such a time, the growth of a unifying cosmic perspective is potentially of enormous importance.
The search for aliens probably is a good thing if we compare it to avoidable wars, which are also tax-funded. But why does Crawford think that the people who destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas and other ancient artifacts would be the least influenced by something as arcane as the search for aliens?
Or that aliens would have any impact on Kim Jong Un? We will not find answers off the planet.
See also: But surely we can’t conjure an entire advanced civilization?
How do we grapple with the idea that ET might not be out there?