NASA Has Released A Free eBook About Communicating With Aliens

Illustration for article titled NASA Has Released A Free eBook About Communicating With Aliens

Titled Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication and edited by SETI Director of Interstellar Message Composition Douglas Vakoch, the document draws on "issues at the core of contemporary archaeology and anthropology" to prepare us "for contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, should that day ever come."


Photo Credit:

Stephane Guisard/ESO


Addressing a field that has been dominated by astronomers, physicists, engineers, and computer scientists, the contributors to this collection raise questions that may have been overlooked by physical scientists about the ease of establishing meaningful communication with an extraterrestrial intelligence. These scholars are grappling with some of the enormous challenges that will face humanity if an information-rich signal emanating from another world is detected.


Among the book's 16 chapters: Speaking for Earth: Projecting Cultural Values Across Deep Space and Time; Learning To Read:Interstellar Message Decipherment from Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives; and Mirrors of Our Assumptions: Lessons from an Arthritic Neanderthal. Sounds look good afternoon reading to us. Download the PDF here. For EPUB and MOBI formats, click here.

H/t BoingBoing



I intend to read it. But first - the important thing is not to understand an alien's motivations, but instead to understand our own. To filter out our own biases as far as is humanly possible, then to try to enter into a discussion as intelligent, rational beings - keeping it firmly in our minds that how we present ourselves and how we treat our fellow humans are the signals that the aliens will be watching to determine how to interact with us. Therefore before we seek an audience with an Extraterrestrial Intelligence... we should work out our own societal issues as best as possible. If we don't want to be treated like animals... then we should do our best to not act and react like animals.

And while I don't agree with Stephen Hawking's stance... there is a point to be made. Right now, an ETI with FTL capacity is so far beyond our capacity that if we were to anger them or make an enemy of them, it wouldn't be a 8 day war... we'd be lucky if we lasted 8 minutes. To a species that calls the stars "home", they have industrial, technological, and societial advancements that we could probably not comprehend. They will have long since solved any issues with space-based resource gathering, and will not require a habitable world to restock and refuel. Therefore assuming that there is any reason they'd want to keep our planet or even our solar system intact in case of a conflict is laughable. Second, they will likely not seek us out. Why should they, we got absolutely noting to offer them they can't do themselves. They likely have automation that are built using either biological or technological bases (and possibly both) that they will use for labor and assistance. They will very likely have food systems that can produce all their needs on each of their ships from recycled and raw material. They will have regenerative energy systems based on common elements to ease refueling. They will have infrastructure and industrial capacity far beyond what we're capable of. They wouldn't interact with us now becuase not only do we have nothing to give or contribute, but we would want everything they have so badly we'd be willing to start a war we can never win in an attempt to gain it. The greatest hubris of humanity is in thinking we actually matter and are somehow important to the universe. That's false thinking. We will prove our importance as we achieve our own successes.

Besides, even if there are things that aliens would want from our world, then they'd wait for us to achieve FTL space travel and encounter one of their trading posts. That way, we learn the hard lessons on our own, and have earned the right to trade our baubles for whatever technology they see fit to share. And that exchange will be less likely to result in the destruction of our species from cultural contamination.