New Assumptions to Guide SETI Research

Discussion in 'UFOs & Sightings' started by nivek, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. nivek

    nivek As Above So Below

    New Assumptions to Guide SETI Research

    Overall Goals and Objectives:

    In light of our most recent understanding of the age of the planetary systems that might support life I discuss the set of assumptions that currently guide SETI research and make recommendations for a new, more “aggressive” approach.

    Background and current assumptions:

    Recent discoveries due to the Kepler project have identified planetary system as old as 10.4 Gyr (Kepler-10) [1] [3], and 11.2 Gyr (Kepler-444) [2]. Considering that the age of our solar system is about 4.5 Gyr, earth like planets could exist that are 6 Gyr, older than our own.

    Considering further that technological development in our civilization started only about 10K years ago and has seen the rise of scientific methodologies only in the past 500 years, we can surmise that we might have a real problem in predicting technological evolution even for the next thousand years, let alone 6 million times that amount!

    In light of these numbers, I think we need to re-visit even our most cherished assumptions:

    1. Interstellar travel is impossible or highly unlikely

    Clearly distance and energy are insurmountable problems for the technologies we have available and our present understanding of physics. Still we are able to fathom possibilities of achieving much greater understanding and control of matter-energy and space-time. Even if the speed of light continues to be an unbreakable barrier, over spans of thousands of years civilizations could probably make interstellar journeys, depending on what assumptions we make about the forms of life that they will comprise (see below).

    2. Radio waves continue to be the major form of communication for thousands or millions of years.

    I suspect that, even if the radio medium continues to be used, the packing of information inside it would be so much greater that we would not be able to recognize any “structure” and would not be able to distinguish it form noise, unless a civilization would in fact decide to use it as a beacon. Even with that intention, that form of communication might quickly have become obsolete, and they might choose other types of beacons for civilizations that are closer in development to theirs. Whether and how civilizations would choose to communicate could also be a fertile field of technosociological study.

    3. Intelligent civilizations would be based on carbon life

    Given the fairly common presence of elements that might be involved in the origin of life throughout the universe, it is a reasonable assumption that life “as we know it” was at least a common starting point, but our form of life and intelligence, may just be a tiny first step in a continuing evolution that may well produce forms of intelligence that are far superior to ours and no longer based on carbon “machinery”.

    After a mere 50 years of computer evolution we are already talking about “super-intelligence” and we are quickly becoming symbiotic with computer power. I don’t want to address here the issue of the survival of our species, or its future “role” within a continuing evolution of millions of years. I simply want to point out the fact that the intelligence we might find and that might choose to find us (if it hasn’t already) might not be at all be produced by carbon based organisms like us. How might that change the above assumptions about interstellar travel?

    Our typical life-spans would no longer be a limitation (although even these could be dealt with multi-generational missions or suspended animation), and the size of the “explorer” might be that of an extremely tiny super-intelligent entity. And how might this change our assumptions about openness or desire to communicate with other civilizations?

    4. We have not been, and are not being… visited

    It seems to me that SETI has ignored (at least officially) the potential relevance of UFO phenomena for three reasons:

    1) The assumption of extremely low likelihood of interstellar travel,

    2) The very high likelihood of hoaxes, mistaken perceptions or even psychotic events in UFO phenomena,

    3) The general avoidance of the subject by the scientific community.

    I think the approach the scientific community could take, instead, is very similar to what SETI has done so far: find the signal in the noise. In the very large amount of “noise” in UFO reporting there may be “signals” however small, that indicate some phenomena that cannot be explained or denied. If we adopt a new set of assumptions about what forms of higher intelligence and technology we might find, some of
    those phenomena might fit specific hypotheses, and we could start some serious enquiry.

    New opportunities

    The recent Kepler discoveries of Earth-like planets offer the opportunity to focus our attention on detecting signs of life and technology in specific planetary systems, but I feel we need to become more flexible in our assumptions. The reason is that, while it is still reasonable and conservative to assume that life is most likely to have originated in conditions similar to ours, the vast time differences in potential evolutions render the likelihood of “matching” technologies very slim.

    Conclusions and recommendations

    In light of the challenges described above I propose a more “aggressive” approach to future SETI exploration, in the following directions:

    1. Engage physicists in what might be called “speculative physics”, still grounded in our most solid theories but with some willingness to stretch possibilities as to the nature of space-time and energy.

    2. Engage technologists in futuristic exploration of how technology might evolve, especially w/r Artificial Intelligence, “Evolvable Robotic Systems” and symbiosis of biology with machines.

    3. Engage sociologists in speculation about what kinds of societies we might expect from the above developments, and whether and how they might choose to communicate.

    4. Consider the UFO phenomenon worthy of study in the context of a system with very low signal to noise ratio, but nevertheless with the possibility of challenging some of our assumptions and pointing to new possibilities for communication and discovery.

    Additional Information:

    (A) The proposals of this white paper relate to questions 2 and 3 of the Alien Mindscape article (how intelligent life communicates and how it can be detected) in that it addresses the fundamental issue of the potential nature and technological age of intelligent life.

    (B) One of the recommendations made is to study UFO reports as a low signal to noise ratio phenomenon. Big Data Analysis could approach several existing data bases such as 130,000 pages of declassified U.S. Air Force documents, National UFO Reporting Center Database and several other international data bases.


    1. Batalha, N. M., Borucki, W. J., Bryson, S. T., et al. 2011, ApJ, 729: 27

    2. Campante, T. L. et al. 2015. ApJ, 799:170 3. Dumusque, X., Bonomo, A. S., Haywood, R. D., et al. 2014, ApJ, 789:154

    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  2. pigfarmer

    pigfarmer tall, thin, irritable

    Oops - just created a thread - didn't see this one first, sorry
  3. Carl Grove

    Carl Grove Adept

    When I hear anything about Seti, and the assumptions made by its scientists, I can't help thinking about a totally unknown, isolated tribe living somewhere in the Brazilian forests. I can imagine the debates amongst them about whether other tribes might or might not exist somewhere. The arguments of the sceptics: "If these so-called "other" tribes existed, why do we not see their war canoes? Why have they not attempted to trade monkey skulls with us?" The optimists: "Let us at least try to find them. Let us all look out for their smoke signals and the sound of their drums." The fact is that we don't know just how little we know and that any such searching is little more than guesswork. We just (in the last 100 years or so) invented radio, so that must be how advanced civilisations communicate. Must it?

    I think this is an excellent discussion and I agree with most of the recommendations, but I still remain doubtful of success. I think it quite possible that if other civilisations do exist they probably have developed ways of monitoring primitive cultures (which is what we might be in comparison with them), and would maybe know better than to engage us in any kind of contact. Such civilisations might also exist in other dimensions altogether. I think it possible that some UFO incidents, with their strange and anti-physical manifestations, might reflect these, rather than physical aliens piloting mechanical craft.
    • Awesome Awesome x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  4. pigfarmer

    pigfarmer tall, thin, irritable

    Interesting parallel.

    No doubt some of them have looked up and saw an airliner or satellite, and others may have seen a highly improbable craft out on the water - and been ridiculed by their peers for making up stories or being drunk or crazy or maybe all of the above. Thing is, some of them really are nuts and do make up fantastic stories for attention - but some are seeing things that we absolutely know are real.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. wwkirk

    wwkirk Celestial

    Has SETI accepted these suggestions? (My suspicion is "No.")
  6. wwkirk

    wwkirk Celestial

    Tiny aliens may have visited us and we just didn’t know: NASA scientist
    “Tiny, super-intelligent” aliens may have already visited Earth — but humans simply didn’t notice them, a NASA scientist claims in a new research paper.

    Silvano P. Colombano, of NASA’s Intelligent Systems Division, argued in a recent research paper that extraterrestrials may look different than what we expect and may be able to travel huge distances — and so we may have never realized that they’d paid us a visit.

    “I simply want to point out the fact that the intelligence we might find and that might choose to find us (if it hasn’t already) might not be at all be produced by carbon based organisms like us,” Colombano wrote in “New Assumptions to Guide SETI Research.”

    If the aliens aren’t carbon-based life forms, that would alter what we look for when we think about interstellar visitors, argued Colombano, of NASA’s Ames Research Center in California.

    “Our typical life-spans would no longer be a limitation … and the size of the ‘explorer’ might be that of an extremely tiny super-intelligent entity,” Colombano wrote.

    The computer scientist also suggests ETs may have figured out technology that humans just can’t understand.

    This would change our assumptions about interstellar travel, namely, that it’s impossible.

    “If we adopt a new set of assumptions about what forms of higher intelligence and technology we might find, some of those phenomena might fit specific hypotheses, and we could start some serious inquiry,” he suggested.

    The space expert encouraged his colleagues to be more open-minded about the possibility of alien visitors and said not all UFO sightings can necessarily be “explained or denied.”

    Colombano presented his paper at a workshop called “Decoding Alien Intelligence” organized by NASA’s SETI Institute, which stands for “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence,” last March.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. ProjectBlueBook

    ProjectBlueBook Adept

    I feel like when I had read this it was just telling us stuff we kind of already knew as far as different types of extraterrestrials and then being technologically more advanced than us. This is just “them” just starting to be somewhat honest with us I believe.

    SOUL-DRIFTER Life Long Researcher

    Physical aliens with physical crafts will also come from parallel universes which is the same as saying another dimension.

    As far as the lack of signals go there is also the possibility that technology has evolved for them to the point that communication is almost a closed loop. Transmissions done directly into artificially generated wormholes that then open up a receiving worm hole at destination and is fed directly into the machine receiver.
    We also do not know how much a signal will degrade over long interstellar distances.

Share This Page