Will 'Breakthrough Initiatives' Break The Silence?

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E. Wheeler (2016), JBIS, 69, pp.271-277

Refcode: 2016.69.271
Keywords: SETI, exoplanets, galaxies, astrobiology, intelligence, signalling

The Breakthrough Initiatives are mankind's most far-reaching effort to date in search of extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Its Breakthrough Listen program surveys for manifestly artificial signals, whether radio or laser in nature. However, the anticipated range of about 450 light years does not include galactic areas for the currently promising exoplanet discoveries. The Breakthrough Message segment examines whether signaling from Earth is advisable and what content is appropriate for advanced ETI. The Message program could be the more active component and should be configured to transmit timely and conservative signals, without undue delay for planned examination of human nature as a "transformative" experience. The Spaceshot aspect of the Initiatives plans in 20 years to send hundreds of small robotic craft to nearest star systems. The paper asks whether featherweight ships will be structured to sustain the anticipated speed of .2c. In the search for ETI, it also examines the nature of intelligence and whether there is distinct variance over intergalactic space. It concludes that, if ETI exists, formidable distances make communications problematic; also, if there are similarities between ET and human intelligence, they might be in assignment of valuations to experience. Recommendations are offered on sources for Message content that might interest potential ETI, which may find human expression as significant as our technology.

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