Moving right along: Now some folks are planning to send greetings to alien civilizations. What could possibly go wrong? Excerpt:
After decades of fruitless scanning the skies for alien messages, scientists say it’s time to try a basic rule of etiquette: Say “hello” first.
A new San Francisco-based organization called METI, or Messaging Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, plans to send signals to distant planets, rather than waiting for them to call Earth.
By the end of 2018, the project aims to send some conversation-starters via radio or laser signals to a rocky planet circling Proxima Centauri, the nearest star other than the sun, and then to more distant destinations, hundreds or thousands of light years away.
It would be the first effort to send powerful, repeated and intentional messages into space, targeting the same stars over months or years.
“If we want to start an exchange over the course of many generations, we want to learn and share information,” said Douglas Vakoch, president of METI and former director of Interstellar Message Composition at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute in Mountain View, Calif.,, known as SETI.
Founded last year, METI will host two workshops next year, one in Paris and the other in St. Louis. It also plans to start raising the $1 million needed annually to staff and build or borrow a powerful transmitter in a remote location.
Part of the mission will be to figure out how to craft the perfect message to say “Hello.”
Now, unlike Stephen Hawking, I’m not too worried about some alien civilization coming looking for us to start trouble. A couple of reasons for that; first, any intelligent race advanced enough to possess interstellar travel will probably be so far advanced beyond any technology we have that we would be less than dust mites to them. We wouldn’t be any threat; we wouldn’t possess any resources they might need (any resources available on our tiny little blue ball are far more easily obtained in the asteroid belt and from the various gas giants.)
It just isn’t logical that an incredibly advanced intelligence would want to wipe us out.
If anything, contact with such a civilization – assuming they deem us even worthy of notice – might just have the effect of advancing our civilization and our technology thousands of years into the future at a stroke. It’s common, when anticipating such a contact, to look at humanity’s general shittiness to each other when a less advanced culture makes contact with a more advanced one, but there’s always good with the bad; primitive cultures with double-digit infant mortality, disease, starvation and so on, all profited by such contact in the end.
Still, this is the longest of long shots. But at least it’s a long shot that’s privately funded. That being the case, I say, knock yourselves out.