Sending Signals Into Space: Is it Really a Bad Idea?

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S. Shostak (2014), JBIS, 67, pp.27-29

Refcode: 2014.67.27
Keywords: Extraterrestrial intelligence, SETI, METI, interstellar flight, active SETI, contact

We dispute the proposed policy of restricting certain categories of transmissions towards the sky, made in the interest of reducing danger to our planet from unknown beings. Those who favor such restrictions argue that by minimizing signals, or subjecting such transmissions to review, we would also lessen the possibility of a hostile response. However, we demonstrate that any putative extraterrestrials who are in possession of technology that would allow them to threaten our world, will also be able to detect the unintentional leakage signals that humans have been pouring into space since the Second World War, thus vitiating the effectiveness of the proposed restrictions. Furthermore, international consultation about transmission content suggested as a defense against interstellar offense is an uncertain policy at best. In addition, restrictions on strong signals would be an unacceptable, and unending, brake on human technical development.

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