nebulosity: (light: telescope)
[personal profile] nebulosity posting in [community profile] carlsagan
Most communities on DW seem to be inactive. As for my two communities, I'm going to attempt to keep things active and stimulate discussion with themed discussion entries at least once a week. If you have thoughts on the topic or questions I'm posting, feel free to join in the discussion or ask questions.

This week, we should talk about SETI, the organization for the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.

Carl Sagan openly supported the pursuit of intelligent life in the universe. Do you think that SETI is worthwhile? Why or why not?

Perhaps the answer to that question can be understood from asking yourself these questions:

(1) Do you think there is other life in the universe? (2) Do you think there is intelligent life out there? (3) If intelligent life is out there, do you think it would be advanced enough for us to contact it? (4) Do you think there is life out there more advanced than us? (5) What kinds of other difficulties do you think would make contact with other intelligent life difficult? (6) Do you think we're close or far from detecting life (intelligent or non)? (7) Do you think that the benefits of contacting intelligent life make the cost of SETI worth it? (8) Do you think humans have already contacted intelligent life? (9) Do you think your government is involved in technology exchange with intelligent extra-terrestrials?

And lastly, do you process data for SETI on your computer using SETI@home?

Date: 2009-08-02 09:58 am (UTC)
yvi: Kaylee half-smiling, looking very pretty (Default)
From: [personal profile] yvi
(1) Do you think there is other life in the universe?

Yes. The universe is so big and the chances of life appearing aren't as slim as they seem (/me is a Biologist who read a lot on that stuff) that I think it's very... I don't know, maybe arrogant to think Earth is this special?

(2) Do you think there is intelligent life out there?

I think I hate any definition of 'intelligent' :) But yes, if given enough time, I think many lifeforms will evolve something like it.

(3) If intelligent life is out there, do you think it would be advanced enough for us to contact it?

I don't think I like this phrasing :) We are not the crown of evolution and intelligence and every attempt to contact extraterrestrial life so far has been very human-centered. Failure to understand this doesn't mean lack of 'intelligence'

For example, we are sending them data about our classical music. How the heck are they supposed to put that back into music and why would we even assume they can hear the same frequencies / hear at all / have a similar taste in music? Things like that makes me think maybe we aren't advanced enough that we could communicate with any life-form not evolved on Earth because we can't really imagine how they could be different.

(4) Do you think there is life out there more advanced than us?

Same problem as with the two before - there is no standard for 'advancement'.

(5) What kinds of other difficulties do you think would make contact with other intelligent life difficult?

A lot of assumptions on humanity's part - that all life will be carbon-based, dependent on water and sunlight etc.

(6) Do you think we're close or far from detecting life (intelligent or non)?

Maybe. But only if we can let go of a few of our assumption of what could possible be defined as life. So, for example we see 'plants that have a similar make-up and climate as Earth' as evidence that there could be extra-terrestrial life at the moment, which is... problematic.

(7) Do you think that the benefits of contacting intelligent life make the cost of SETI worth it?

Actually? No. Except for the benefit of 'we will know' there will likely be no benefit as distances in the universe are too big for any exchange. I like the project and think it should be continued, but in a simple cost-benefit calculation, it comes out as lacking.

(8) Do you think humans have already contacted intelligent life? (9) Do you think your government is involved in technology exchange with intelligent extra-terrestrials?

No and no.

And lastly, do you process data for SETI on your computer using SETI@home?

No. I use BOINC for biomedical research.

And now I hope I didn't come across as negative. I do think SETI is interesting :).

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