Tuesday, January 09, 2007

SETI, Singularity And A New Search Approach

I'd guess that most transhumanists think SETI is a waste of time. If your worldview is that biological life is just an evolutionary stepping stone, a technologically capable alien civilization would have probably reached the Singularity, become non-biological, and be going about the business of converting all matter into computing substrate. Since this hasn't been observed, all such civilizations must have never existed, or destroyed themselves shortly after becoming technological.

That's pretty depressing. So we're either alone in the universe, or we're probably to kill ourselves before reaching transcendence like all the others?

Eric Klien, the founder of the Lifeboat Foundation, has the latter view. In his blog entry Doomsday Thoughts he says "I believe that world after world throughout the universe has been destroyed by science out of control and therefore there are no advanced aliens out there like in the Star Wars or Star Trek movies. (Billions of worlds have likely been destroyed this way.)" It's pretty shocking to see such a pessimistic assessment from the founder of the only organization dedicated to searching for ways to avoid such disasters.

I don't think SETI is wasted effort. At a minimum, success would tell us that it is possible for at least some technological civilizations to survive, and that encouragement may help us make the hard decisions necessary. And now there is a new search methodology which does not involve looking for a deliberately broadcast beacon.

"Soon, we may be eavesdropping on signals from Galactic civilizations," says theorist Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). "This is the first time in history that humans will be capable of finding a civilization like ours among the stars."

Loeb will present his findings on Wednesday, January 10, in a press conference at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle, Wash.

Previous SETI programs would not have detected an Earth-like civilization. The searches often looked for beacon-like signals deliberately beamed across space. Such beacons may not exist. Also, most radio SETI projects examined frequencies higher than 1 Gigahertz in order to avoid interference from both Earth-based and natural cosmic sources.

Instead of looking for deliberate broadcasts, Loeb and his co-author Matias Zaldarriaga suggest looking for accidental leakage from an alien civilization."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gees, living, and evolving isn't rocket science you know... If our leaders just got a little wiser, and took care of people like their supposed to, instead of being absorbed in personal gains, this World wouldn't be such a bad place. We don't need science(it's sure can be convenient)however we need to be wiser, and starting acting sensibly soon. Imagine sitting in a car headed for the cliff, either you wake up, and hit the break, or dream on in the after life.