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SETI Redux 
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Post SETI Redux
At the risk of riling ant (no problem, ant), I thought some might like an article on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence by a good science writer, Joel Achenbach. From our previous discussion related to the Sagan/Druyan book, I hadn't realized that up to this point, SETI has been almost entirely a listening project. Some scientists want SETI to move in to an active phase, where we would beam signals to specific target areas in the galaxy. But other scientists are strongly against this initiative for several reasons. One of them is that, since notifying other civilizations of our presence could bring a hostile visit to the planet, we have an ethical duty not to act unilaterally; we need the consent of the planet, and how would we get that?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ ... story.html



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ant
Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:00 am
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Post Re: SETI Redux
Riling ant :?: :?

This doesn't and wouldn't rile me up. :)

I think you might be thinking (falsely) that I am either anti SETI or deny that SETI is not science.
Or you might be jesting, which I think is most likely the case. :P

Anyway, in Paul Davies "The Eerie Silence" I think his idea is mostly that SETI is;

Perhaps barking up the wrong tree (we need to seriously consider listening for radio bands is too antiquated)

Not exploring enough (or just beginning too) other search possibilities that are much more likely better our odds

Is not doing enough local searching for alien life (not life that is "intelligent") to help us get a broader picture and better understanding of what life is


Should redirect its focus all together and look for ET footprints (i.e. bio-techno markers) in space


I think the last one above is the way to go. But it comes with its own challenges, some of which may be too great at this point of our understanding.

In Davies book there's a great chapter titled "Alien Magic" wherein Davies speaks about the very real possibility that a technologically advanced alien civilization, perhaps millions of years ahead of our science, would not leave a footprint for us to either recognize or understand as having originated from an intelligent source.
A million or perhaps even billion year technology could be in forms vastly different than ours, and may even be under our very noses without us even being aware of it.

And consider what a billion year old advanced alien civilization might be able to concoct, or what the creativity of a billion year old alien intelligence be like. What would "super consciousness" achieve both biologically and technologically?

What would be power sources for an advanced alien technology? Might black holes, or stars be sources of power utilized in some fashion?
Might entire stellar systems billions of years old have networks of intelligence that we are unable to detect because of their ability to manipulate quantum states as a means of communication?
Might some ET have achieved the combination of biological and quantum states of life?

Davies covers a considerable amount of "what ifs" in his book and how we need to really think outside the box, all while keeping in mind what we are capable of pursuing with our current technologies.

I think the listening aspect is on its last leg. Our species is already in the process of completely leaving behind radio signals and is switching completely to fiber optics.
If ET is still too young then it hasn't even reached radio capability yet (even if science IS in fact a given of the evolution of a species).

And again, If ET is already a million or even a billion years ahead of us then we very possibly are not even capable of knowing what to look for as a sign of alien intelligence (Interbane may disagree with this, of course), or discovering it.

A wave of ET exploration may already have passed us millions of years ago and found nothing worthy of its interest.
The assumption that we WOULD be interesting to a million year old advanced alien civilization is of course an assumption (I suspect again Interbane would disagree here. We've already proven something can come from nothing, so we must be considered intelligent universally speaking).

We will be perhaps forever anthropocentrically tainted in our search for ET.
But that's all we've got.



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Mon Mar 02, 2015 1:09 pm
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Post Re: SETI Redux
Ps

The SETI search has really caught my interest. Reading about it is better than watching a dumb Hollywood flick.
(I'm serious)

:)



Mon Mar 02, 2015 1:10 pm
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Post Re: SETI Redux
I read the article. It's not bad.

Here are some thoughts:

Quote:
So began SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a form of astronomical inquiry that has captured the imaginations of people around the planet but has so far failed to detect a single “hello.” Pick your explanation: They’re not there; they’re too far away; they’re insular and aloof; they’re zoned out on computer games; they’re watching us in mild bemusement and wondering when we’ll grow up.


My thoughts:

Let's say that there's alien civilization "A" that is a mere thousand light years away from us and is technologically capable of seeing (by some telescopic means) signs of life on Earth (bright lights, atmospheric items in orbit, etc).
Fine.
So one day they point their sights right at our beautiful pale blue dot.
What will they see?
You guessed it - Earth - a thousand years ago. .
Did we have brights lights, big cities, and satellites in orbit a thousand years ago?
Not even close.

If we happen to have pointed a signal at ET on planet "A" travelling at the speed of light (the speed limit as far as we know) they'll get it in the the year 3015.
We've got a while to wait before they send something back. And more time to wait for their response.
:cry_baby:

Quote:
“ETI’s reaction to a message from Earth cannot presently be known,” states a petition signed by 28 scientists, researchers and thought leaders, among them SpaceX founder Elon Musk. “We know nothing of ETI’s intentions and capabilities, and it is impossible to predict whether ETI will be benign or hostile.”


Quote:
This objection is moot, however, according to the proponents of active SETI. They argue that even if there are unfriendlies out there, they already know about us. That’s because “I Love Lucy” and other TV and radio broadcasts are radiating from Earth at the speed of light. Aliens with advanced instruments could also detect our navigational radar beacons and would see that we’ve illuminated our cities.


It's likely that if an ancient civilization knew of the ideal situations for life on earth, they past us up long ago because there wasn't anything worth waiting around for.
Percolation theory might explain how an alien civilization might have or will migrate.
Davies discusses it briefly in The Eerie Silence:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percolation_theory

If ET was hostile that threat ended long ago because we missed (luckily) the migration wave.
If migration hasn't happened yet, because it hasn't happened yet probably means the enormous challenges of space and time are too great for whatever is out. If an advanced alien civilization has mastered the hypothetical aspects of worm hole space travel they're likely off doing other things and do not need to target this planet when their are billions and billions of them our there.


Quote:
These critics add that it’s bad form for scientists to attempt such interstellar communication without getting permission from the rest of humanity. Plus there’s the question of what, exactly, a message to the stars ought to say.

Thus one of the greatest scientific mysteries — Are we alone in the universe? — leads to a thorny political and cultural question: Who speaks for Earth?


That's a good question; who exactly speaks for earth.

I'd say we'd need three people to represent earth: a scientist, a theologian, and a philosopher.
Let's leave the damn politicians out of it.
I have my reasons for picking the 3 that I did.


Quote:
“Active SETI is a reflection of SETI growing up as a discipline,” said Vakoch, a clinical psychologist who is the SETI Institute’s director of Interstellar Message Composition. “It may just be the approach that lets us make contact with life beyond Earth.”


If by "Active SETI" we mean entirely boldly broadcasting with increase amplification our existence (and of course, our location in the process) I disagree.
SETI needs to better understand how alien life may be vastly different than our form, and SETI would be better off searching for indicators of intelligent life in space.


Quote:
It’s not as complicated as it looks. The number (N) of detectable civilizations is the product of seven factors: the rate of star formation (R*), the fraction of stars with planetary systems (f p ), the average number of habitable planets per planetary system (n e ), the fraction that actually have life (f l ), the fraction that have intelligent life (f i ), the fraction with communicative civilizations (f c ) and the average longevity of the communicating phase of such civilizations (L).

Exoplanets — outside our solar system — were first discovered in 1995. NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope and other observatories in space and on the ground have found more than 1,000 planets in the years since. Astronomers say it’s likely that our galaxy has tens of billions of “habitable zone” planets. And of course (channeling Carl Sagan) our galaxy is just one of billions and billions of galaxies.


The Drake equation gets pretty highly speculative as it moves along. It's nearly guess work with nothing to really hand our hats on.
The excitement of EXOPLANETS is nice, but it's being overplayed in the context of the search for intelligent life.

There's a very broad assumption in play here, meaning the assumption that because earth-like conditions exist on a planet, said planet is likely to have spawned intelligent life. . That's a fallacy.
If life evolved on an Exo, there is no law known to us that predicts intelligence of the kind we are looking for will fill some life niche as it did here on Earth - PERIOD.
Frankly, life is probably very rare, and intelligent life astronomically rarer.
The complexity of life is remarkable. The complexity of intelligent life is simply miraculous.
There's no other way to describe it.
Also, our inability to explain the origin of life makes it impossible to explain where it's likely to happen.
We can give it a good guess, but that's about it.


Quote:
Do intelligent creatures tend to be communicative and potentially detectable? No idea. And finally, there’s that ominous “L” at the end of the equation: Do technological civilizations tend to survive a long time?

“Those factors are just completely unknown. It’s a great way to organize our ignorance,” Tarter says.


That's a good question about techno civilizations. As I've said previously, we don't know what alien technology is.
Predicting its chances of survival is based on what we predict might or might not happen to us; totally anthropocentric.
Also alien science might have led ET off in a totally different direction.

It will always be tempting to place ourselves back in the center of the universe and conceptualize from there.
SETI is trying to hurdle that error.



Last edited by ant on Mon Mar 02, 2015 2:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Mar 02, 2015 2:13 pm
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Post Re: SETI Redux
ant wrote:
Riling ant :?: :?

This doesn't and wouldn't rile me up. :)

I think you might be thinking (falsely) that I am either anti SETI or deny that SETI is not science.
Or you might be jesting, which I think is most likely the case. :P

Jesting, correct. I suppose the thought must be that with the perhaps infinite possibilities of life-sustaining bodies in the universe, even if one of these hosted a civilization so advanced as not to care about us, there could be many others in varying stages of development that might. I'm not saying this has to be the case, as it's still conceivable that we're alone.

Thanks for this information on Davies' book, sounds very provocative.



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Post Re: SETI Redux
Quote:
Ant wrote:
It will always be tempting to place ourselves back in the center of the universe and conceptualize from there.
SETI is trying to hurdle that error.

Excellent line Ant. The Davies book is one I'm going to check out. It appears to me that Davies is moving SETI in a realistic direction.
Quote:
who exactly speaks for earth.

Davies list is slightly different than yours, he included lawyers. Does he explain in the book why his list is what it is?



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Post Re: SETI Redux
Quote:
Davies list is slightly different than yours, he included lawyers. Does he explain in the book why his list is what it is?


You're right. I forgot that he does give mention to a list of response people and it includes a lawyer(s).
But I'm almost certain it's not his list. I think it's more of a collective agreement of who should be on the panel.
I'll have to look that over again.

Would I include a lawyer?
No offense to Cattleman, but, um, heck no. What would we need a lawyer for?
Our laws vary so greatly throughout societies, no one lawyer would be able to speak on behalf of what is it we consider to be laws that govern mankind.
That discussion would be more philosophical. And because there are religious origins for some of our laws, a theologian would be able to add to the discussion.
Scientist, philosopher, and a theologian.

I think Davies would be a great choice for the scientist.
Or maybe someone like Martin Rees.



Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:34 pm
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Post Re: SETI Redux
Something else to add to the equation: how intelligent are dolphins? A strong case can be made that human like intelligence evolved at least twice on this planet.



Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:57 pm
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Post Re: SETI Redux
Quote:
Ant:
I think Davies would be a great choice for the scientist.
Or maybe someone like Martin Rees.


Both good choices, I just found a Martin Rees ted talk its worth the watch. its 17.25 min

ted.com/talks/martin_rees_asks_is%20_th ... al_century



Last edited by Taylor on Mon Mar 02, 2015 7:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Post Re: SETI Redux
LanDroid wrote:
Something else to add to the equation: how intelligent are dolphins? A strong case can be made that human like intelligence evolved at least twice on this planet.



dolphin intelligence would be classified as intelligence from the same trunk of our tree of life.
the bigger question would be if there is life here on earth from a different trunk, within some sort of shadow sphere.
we already know different degrees of intelligence have branched from our trunk (I think the preference now is to refer to it as a bush)

from an evolution/natural selection perspective, intelligence seems to have taken off exponentially.
nature seems to have immediately favored intelligence and at some point accelerated its progress.
why nature immediately favored intelligence to fill a niche is a good question.

soon biological intelligence will be enhanced artificially. that might cut short nature's progressive march (what else can we call it but that?) toward greater intelligence - nature may have its brakes applied by us.
what will our own intelligence be like in a thousand years from now?
people in our time might not be able to recognize it if we were given a preview.

There's no telling what it would be like from another planet millions of years ahead of us.
if it was planetary bound to begin with.

this is sp speculative it truly is more sci-fi than anything else at this time.



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Post Re: SETI Redux
Quote:
Are matter and information all there is? Five hundred years ago the very concept of a device manipulating information, or software, would have been incomprehensible. Might there be a still higher level, as yet outside all human experience, that organizes electrons? If so, this "third level" would never be manifest through observations made at the informational level, still less at the matter level. We should be open to the distinct possibility that advanced alien technology a billion years old may operate at the third, or perhaps even a fourth or fifth level -all of which are totally incomprehensible to the human mind at our current state of evolution in 2012."

Paul Davies



Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:49 pm
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