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SETI public: To kick things off...



Richard, et al,

>Richard Said
There is a subject which is (a) close to my heart, and (b) the
subject of 1 hour documentary which I have just finished making.

It is called "talking with Aliens" and it will be shown in the UK
on 20th December on Channel Four, and early in the New Year on The
Learning Channel in America. 

>>>deletia<<<

Think about how a truly alien creature might think and
communicate. What if they used sonar as their primary mode of
perception? Any 2-d representation would meaningless to them -
bang goes the Arecibo message, bang goes Encounter 2000. Think
about their communication. We know dolphins have between 10 and
100 primary sound units - and by matching the sounds with tier
behavior, we have been able to decipher two of these - count
them, *two* - and that's =with the live animal to observe.

>Walt
I see that you think about nuances of contact.

>Richard
So my question to you all is this. What makes us think we could
ever, conceivably, understand the first thing ETI had to say to
us? Even if they had done their best to make a message we were
'sure' to understand - like we did with Arecibo and Encounter
2000.

Surely there is a real chance we'll hear from ETI - and then never
understand what they're saying at all?

>Walt 
To decode a signal is one issue provided that we can
'sense' it with our technology. Then to understand the 'encoded'
intelligence, provided it is encoded is another matter. What if
a specific ET evolved distributed intelligence (as in a hive
mentality) and the signal consists of not one but hundreds of
signals being sent simultaneously each on a different wavelength
(it's class), but the information is statistically recovered, a
nuance of the distributed intelligence architecture evolved
error correction, should members expire, but Earth only received
one channel. A complete reasoning-sequence would not be formed
without the full channel width of the 'original signal'. But
this is a fairytale, not very good one either.

Richard, I think it is a great idea, but one I suspect will be
met with much resistance here in this list, in the form of
silence (as we now see, I wrote this yesterday, I waited to send
it, to see group reaction). 

I receive the impression, that for some reason Humans think that
we can solve anything, as an exbuddy of mine used to say, "too
much science fiction", actually it was D. Shirley (JPL) who 
started the saying. 

People seem to think that all ET civilizations will evolve 
understanding of EMF physics and apply it in the same manner that 
Humans have. That is the basis of narrow band SETI thinking, 
apparently.

Let me ask a simple hypothetical question -- what if Humankind 
had discovered a rock which floated in the air instead of finding 
load-stone, which attracted ferritic metals? How would our 
science have developed?  

Targeting Dolphins as a 'test-bed' for interaction with an Alien 
race is a great idea. Reminds me of NASA scientists using 
Antartica as an exobiology research environment to understand how 
life could exist in places such as Europa.

Part of the problem seems to be that it is OK to find ET WAY OUT 
THERE, something like SAFE SETI. But, start discussing the 
matter of talking to ET or planning to talk to ET in a 
bidirectional manner --it is no LONGER SAFE SETI...everybody 
goes quiet. 

Best Wishes,

Walt Williams, 99.11.23
SETV/OSR
==========================================



------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Subject:       SETI public: Public SETI: To kick things off...
Date:          Mon, 22 Nov 99 22:58:20 +0000
From:          Richard Burke-Ward <richard@burke-ward.demon.co.uk>
To:            "Public SETI List" <public@setileague.org>

There is a subject which is (a) close to my heart, and (b) the
subject of 1 hour documentary which I have just finished making.

It is called "talking with Aliens" and it will be shown in the
UK on 20th December on Channel Four, and early in the New Year on
The Learning Channel in America. 

(Don't know yet about the rest of the world, sorry.) The show, in
brief, suggests that we can learn a little tiny bit about what to
expect from Contact with ETI by studying the closest thing we
have to a non-human intelligence on Earth, the dolphin. (The
older ones among you will be muttering stuff about John Lilly,
but this is not the same.)

Question: take an animal which is pretty intelligent, butnowhere
near human levels in most of the things *we* (not they) think
matter. Look at its communication system - probably the most
complex non-human system we have yet looked at. Look at its
behaviour - likewise complex. Look at its biology - mammalian, but
pretty strange for all that. Ad then...

Think about how a truly alien creature might think and
communicate. What if they used sonar as their primary mode of
perception? Any 2-d representation would meaningless to them -
bang goes the Arecibo message, bang goes Encounter 2000. Think
about their communication. We know dolphins have between 10 and
100 primary sound units - and by matching the sounds with tier
behaviour, we have been able to decipher two of these - count
them, *two* - and that's =with the live animal to observe.

So my question to you all is this. What makes us think we could
ever, concewivably, unde4rstand the first thing ETI had to say to
us? Even if they had done their best to make a message we were
'sure' to understand - like we did with Arecibo and Encounter
2000.

Surely there is a real chance we'll hear from ETI - and then never
understand what they're saying at all?

Thoughts, anyone?

Richard