Saturday, December 15, 2007

Who Speaks for Earth?





Zaitsev has already sent several powerful messages to nearby, sun-like stars -- a practice called "Active SETI." But some scientists feel that he's not only acting out of turn, but also independently speaking for everyone on the entire planet. Moreover, they believe there are possible dangers we may unleash by announcing ourselves to the unknown darkness, and if anyone plans to transmit messages from Earth, they want the rest of the world to be involved.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent article, BTW. Personally, I think it's most likely that any previous sentient beings in this galaxy or any other passed through a stage like the Singularity long ago and became godlike beings. If this is the case, they MAY have left a set of automatic broadcast devices -- a version of Sagan's "Encyclopedia Galactica" if you will (or even Clarke's monolith) -- to bring evolving sentients like ourselves along. We simply need to reach a certain stage of development (which we obviously haven't reached yet) in order to access this type of information. When we do, we will find (somewhat ala "Contact") that it contains not only instructions for incredibly advanced technological magic (leading ultimately to the Singularity for US) but also "philosophical" disquisitions that will pretty much explain not just the nature of the material universe but the nature of reality itself. Are we ready for this? Most likely not yet, which is why we don't "get it" yet. These notions also solve the Fermi paradox very neatly....

--W.M. Bear

Chris said...

The idea of letting a special council of the United Nations spend 20 years and 20 billion dollars after consulting with leading experts in the fields of wet blanketry to State-the-Obviousology and finally coming up with a tepid, meaningless politically correct version of "hello" makes my blood boil. I say open source the whole active SETI concept, let anyone with a decent transmitter say whatever they damn well please and let the ETI's decide what to do with it all.

dad2059 said...

While a technological Singularity is likely the outcome of any nascent technological biological society, one must not rule out the possibility of a malevolent non-biological entity(s) ala "berserker" or Alistair Reynolds type that actively seeks out infant cultures and strangles them in their cribs for whatever their reasons might be. (future rivals, keep populations down because of impending future disaster)

Chris said...

Any civilization that has the technological capability of creating a "beserker" type weapon would have found us by now, simply by noticing that about 3 decades ago, earth started to outshine its parent star in radio wavelengths. I doubt a few innocent greetings cast out into the interstellar noise is going to be the thing that lets slip the secret location of our homeworld. The secret's been out for some time now.

Elan said...

The secret may have been out of the bag long before we began transmitting radio waves beyond our orbit - human sentience continues to indulge in the Protagorasian self-aggrandizement that "Man is the measure of all things: of things which are, that they are, and of things which are not, that they are not".
Have we fallen into some banal Star Trek narrative, where roughly hominoid beings enocunter other hominoids and detect rouhgly similar technologies and then go on to make contact, trade, fight, form stellar alliances, etc.?
Cosmic consciousness may be a holograhpic epipehonmeon and contact may have been made the moment proto-bacterial life formed on the skin of this planet, or by a spiny dorsal fish or by a Redwood forest.

Elan said...

The implication of my previous post is that we human beings may not yet be conscious enough for real contact to be made - that our wetware is still far behind even the most basic and rudimentary technology required to access the great conversation taking place beyond us and around us.

Mac said...

Chris--

I say open source the whole active SETI concept, let anyone with a decent transmitter say whatever they damn well please and let the ETI's decide what to do with it all.

I enthusiastically second that.

Elan--

Exactly. We're still approaching this anthropomorphically. One could even argue that the fabled Singularity is so much anthropomorphic static.

dad2059 said...

One could even argue that the fabled Singularity is so much anthropomorphic static.

True. But since our only experience is other human cultures, how else can we see things?

we human beings may not yet be conscious enough for real contact to be made - that our wetware is still far behind even the most basic and rudimentary technology required to access the great conversation taking place beyond us and around us.

Which may be needed before human beings get past the anthropic viewpoint.

We now are getting to the point where we can improve our wetware. But remember, that alone brings its own implications not related to ET.

Anonymous said...

It's something like that. I mean, suppose ET really DOES communicate telepathically (solves the power/bandwidth problem anyway!) If anyone IS picking them up, no "reputable" SETI researchers will believe them, which may be why we haven't made "official" Contact while at the same time we may ALREADY have made a LOT of unofficial contact!

--WMB