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Communications Space

Physicists Call For Alien Messaging Protocol 279

Posted by timothy
from the don't-they-still-use-macs? dept.
schliz writes "Researchers have called for the development of a messaging framework that could increase the probability that our interplanetary messages are detected and deciphered – assuming Orson Scott Card's vision of telepathic buggers doesn't come true. The trio of postgraduate astrophysicists suggest a Messaging to Extraterrestrial Intelligence protocol (METI — PDF) for signal encoding, message length, information content, transmission method and periodicity. The protocol could be tested via a website that allows users to create, retrieve and decrypt sample messages that conform to the protocol — which also demonstrates communication across human cultural boundaries, they say."
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Physicists Call For Alien Messaging Protocol

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  • It's not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Friday January 28, 2011 @06:26AM (#35030018) Journal

    For one thing the problem with aliens is, they're ALIEN. As in not only don't have the cultural cues that help us communicate, but may not even operate on the same time scales. We don't share a cultural context. We have no common symbols except math. And if you ever knew a mathematician, you would realize why this is a problem. They trend toward atheism, atavism, solipsism, and otherwise being queer. They bear watching.

    And then there's the assumption that aliens are friendly with xenoforms like us. I'm not ok with that because we're not even comfortable with Southern Baptists, let along people who talk in that sing-song gibberish that goes back East. Intelligent Algae? I dunno if I'll like 'em, or if they'll like me. I'm pretty sure I can get along with the intelligent crystals though, since pissing them off takes several thousand years.

  • by Grygus (1143095) on Friday January 28, 2011 @06:30AM (#35030036)

    Isn't your paranoid view of aliens just as anthropomorphic, though? You use as evidence Human behavior, but there is no reason to assume that will apply in any way. I'm also puzzled at how you are willing to grant these aliens the technology of FTL travel but not better telescopes. If you believe that aliens are as aggressive as we are, then arguably the safest thing to do is to preemptively present ourselves as a non-threat, just to avoid triggering a fear response. I do not find your position to be internally consistent.

  • Re:It's not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eyrieowl (881195) on Friday January 28, 2011 @11:57AM (#35032972)

    I think it's exceedingly unlikely. Events happen in "real time", and a brain that operated vastly slower than ours would likely be at a severe evolutionary disadvantage because it would be unable to respond quickly to circumstances where quick action is warranted (flood, fire, storms...). There would be selective pressure to react faster, so you'd trend towards a faster species, even if you somehow started out "slower". On the other hand, it gets more challenging to be faster beyond a certain point, with diminishing returns, so you wouldn't expect the process to continue unabated. Their time scale might be different than ours, but I think it's unlikely it would be vastly so. However, their lifespans could be rather different, so their perception of the value of time could be quite different. That would be a cultural difference though, I think, not the barrier to communication that physically processing at a vastly different speed would be.

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