Some Astronomers And Philosophers Think We Need To Work On Our Communication With Aliens

Last week, a group for British astronomers and philosophers from the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute entered into a competition to figure out the best way to tell aliens what us Earthlings all about. The competition is organized by Breakthrough Initiatives, a project backed by the likes of Stephen Hawking and Seth MacFarlane seeking to accelerate the search for life outside of earth. The goal is to develop a message on the world’s behalf and send it into space, then wait and see if anyone listens. Breakthrough Initiatives founder Yuri Milner will award $1 million to the best message.

The competition was the topic of further discussion at the British Science Festival in Bradford, where the need to update aliens about earth’s diversity and equality came up. Dr. Jill Stuart, an expert in outer space political theory, brought up the fact that the last message we sent out was a plaque placed on the 1972 Pioneer 10 spacecraft

“The plaque shows a man raising his hand in a very manly fashion while a woman stands behind him, appearing all meek and submissive,” she told The Guardian. “Attitudes have changed so much in just 40 years.”

Dr. Anders Sandberg, who represented the SETI group at the festival, noted that not every researcher is sold on communicating with them at all. While they’re not concerned about the kind of alien invasions seen in movies, there is the possibility that demanding their attention is a bad idea — at best, it may just be an impractical idea.

“But what we don’t know is if any aliens out there have eyes, so pictures might not work,” Sandberg said. Other options for sending such a message include in the form of sounds, mathematical formulas or glowing index fingers. [The Guardian]