Friday, October 8, 2010

The International Academy of Astronautics' SETI Permanent Study Group Versus Me

Meeting with extraterrestrial life
If you are so fortunate/unfortunate to make first contact with an extraterrestrial, what should you do?  I have my own ideas, but let's allow the "experts" to have their say first.  Here's what the International Academy of Astronautics recommends:
Declaration of Principles Concerning the Conduct
of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence


The parties to this declaration are individuals and institutions participating in the scientific Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

The purpose of this document is to declare our commitment to conduct this search in a scientifically valid and transparent manner and to establish uniform procedures for the announcement of a confirmed SETI detection.

This commitment is made in recognition of the profound scientific, social, ethical, legal, philosophical and other implications of a SETI detection. As this enterprise enjoys wide public interest, but engenders uncertainty about how information collected during the search will be handled, the signatories have voluntarily constructed this declaration. It, together with a current list of signatory parties, will be placed on file with the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).


1. Searching: SETI experiments will be conducted transparently, and its practitioners will be free to present reports on activities and results in public and professional fora. They will also be responsive to news organizations and other public communications media about their work.

2. Handling candidate evidence: In the event of a suspected detection of extraterrestrial intelligence, the discoverer will make all efforts to verify the detection, using the resources available to the discoverer and with the collaboration of other investigators, whether or not signatories to this Declaration. Such efforts will include, but not be limited to, observations at more than one facility and/or by more than one organization. There is no obligation to disclose verification efforts while they are underway, and there should be no premature disclosures pending verification. Inquiries from the media and news organizations should be responded to promptly and honestly.

Information about candidate signals or other detections should be treated in the same way that any scientist would treat provisional laboratory results. The Rio Scale, or its equivalent, should be used as a guide to the import and significance of candidate discoveries for the benefit of non-specialist audiences. [Me: Uh, huh.  Treat it the same as any scientist would treat provisional lab results.  Like cold fusion?  The Mars rock?  The reality is if it looks big, they'll announce it immediately.]

3. Confirmed detections: If the verification process confirms – by the consensus of the other investigators involved and to a degree of certainty judged by the discoverers to be credible – that a signal or other evidence is due to extraterrestrial intelligence, the discoverer shall report this conclusion in a full and complete open manner to the public, the scientific community, and the Secretary General of the United Nations. The confirmation report will include the basic data, the process and results of the verification efforts, any conclusions and intepretations [sic] [Me: A typo?  We're trusting these guys, who can't communicate properly with humans, to communicate with extraterrestrial intelligences?  Ha!], and any detected information content of the signal itself. A formal report will also be made to the International Astronomical Union (IAU). [Me: Notify the Secretary General of the United Nations?  Why the hell would you do that?  Why not just call the Pope?  Or the General of the Salvation Army?  I have a thought: How about we leave anything remotely governmental out of it altogether?  Not like they wouldn't screw it up.]

4. All data necessary for the confirmation of the detection should be made available to the international scientific community through publications, meetings, conferences, and other appropriate means. [Me: Don't believe this self-serving crap.  Not a one of them will do anything other than post it on Facebook and/or YouTube.  Besides, once this goes public, busybodies in government will take over and. . .that's right, screw it all up!]

5. The discovery should be monitored. Any data bearing on the evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence should be recorded and stored permanently to the greatest extent feasible and practicable, in a form that will make it available to observers and to the scientific community for further analysis and interpretation. [Me: Okay, I get what they're saying and agree, but I have the weirdest vision when I read "stored permanently" of the message being carved into stone.]

6. If the evidence of detection is in the form of electromagnetic signals, observers should seek international agreement to protect the appropriate frequencies by exercising the extraordinary procedures established within the World Administrative Radio Council of the International Telecommunication Union. [Me: Now this is interesting.  There are "extraordinary procedures" for "protecting" radio frequencies, promulgated by the dubiously named World Administrative Radio Council?  That pisses me off to no end.]

7. Post Detection: A Post-Detection Task Group under the auspices of the IAA SETI Permanent Study Group has been established to assist in matters that may arise in the event of a confirmed signal, and to support the scientific and public analysis by offering guidance, interpretation, and discussion of the wider implications of the detection.  [Me: I suppose I should've said this at the beginning, but who died and made these guys boss of alien contact?]

8. Response to signals: In the case of the confirmed detection of a signal, signatories to this declaration will not respond without first seeking guidance and consent of a broadly representative international body, such as the United Nations. [Me:  What the hell?  Again with the United Nations?  Do they rotate the nation in charge of responding to extraterrestrials?  If we can have Cuba or Iran on the Human Rights Commission, what's next--North Korea representing the Earth?]

Unanimously adopted by the SETI Permanent Study Group of the International Academy of Astronautics, at its annual meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, on 30 September 2010.

These revised and streamlined Protocols are intended to replace the previous document adopted by the International Academy of Astronautics in 1989.

Nonsense!  Here's what I recommend:
Pro Libertate's Declaration of Principles Concerning the Conduct of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
1. Searching: Find a way to communicate with extraterrestrial intelligence.  Hacking into SETI@home is one possible approach (scan their data but keep actual "Wow!" signals to yourself).
2. Detection: When you finally get a message, don't tell anyone else about it.

3. Response to signal: Tell the aliens to meet you, secretly, at a secluded location.

4. Contact: Ask the aliens for super powers (a power ring or functional equivalent).  If single, feel free to have sex with them.

5. Ask them to leave and never return.

6. Run the Earth as you see fit with your new super powers.  Have a good time.


the innominate one said...

"If single, feel free to have sex with the aliens."

Reminds me of the bit from Clerks II (I can't find a clip online for this) where Jay tells Silent Bob (paraphrased from memory):

Sometimes I wish I done more with my life than hang out in front of stores selling drugs and shit. Maybe I could've been an astronaut. Yeah, homeboy could've been the first to discover an alien race...and fuck it!

Pro Libertate said...

It's a common thread in first contact literature.

VM said...

if the aliens land without permission, they'd be illegal.

so, what, they'll take our jobs, too?

Pro Libertate said...

I understand that we're thinking about outsourcing some call centers to the Centaurians. While the calls will take nearly 9 1/2 years to complete, Centaurians speak fluent English, thanks to American TV broadcasts.

Slart[click]barst of Tau Ceti said...

Dear Mr. Libertate:

We have read with some interest your "Declaration of Principles Concerning the Conduct of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence." Although we have no current plans to visit your quaint little backwater of a planet, we were touched by the obsessive lengths to which your people would go if we sent a message to you. We have toyed with sending a message that translates into "Drink your Ovaltine", but, instead, we have decided to reward you personally for this interest in our culture.

Through our wormhole delivery system ("Get Your Packages Overnight or Maybe Even Yesterday"), please find in the next day or so an autographed picture of our leader and a fully charged power ring. According to the Intragalactic Intertubial Network, the nearest wormhole post office is on the moon orbiting your world. Enjoy!


The People of Tau Ceti System