NASA may provoke alien invasion, scientists warn — Analysis
Oxford researchers are reportedly concerned that the US agency’s effort to communicate with extraterrestrials could be dangerous
Scientists at the UK’s Oxford University have reportedly sounded an alarm over plans by NASA to broadcast location data and other information into space, warning that the effort could have dangerous unintended consequences, including triggering an alien invasion.
The issue here is the plan “Beacon in the Galaxy” (BITG), a broadcast of data by a NASA-led team of researchers with the aim of greeting “extraterrestrial intelligences.” The US space agency wants to beam the signal from the SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope array in California and China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST). It would include such information as the biochemical composition of life on Earth, the Solar System’s time-stamped position in the Milky Way, digitized images of humans and an invitation for extraterrestrials to respond.
Anders Sandberg, a senior researcher at Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute (FHI), argued that such a broadcast could be risky. He said that in the rare event of an alien civilization receiving the message, it might be more than a friendly greeting.
A search for alien life is a common theme. “giggle factor” around it, Sandberg told the UK’s Telegraph newspaper in an article published on Sunday. “Many people refuse to take anything related to it seriously, which is a shame because this is important stuff.”
Toby Ord (another FHI scientist from Oxford) suggested there be open discussion about sending signals to aliens. Listening to the incoming messages can be hazardous, he said, because they may be used by Earthlings to trap them. “These dangers are small but poorly understood and not yet well managed,”He stated.
Ord insisted that there’s no scientific consensus on the ratio of peaceful to hostile civilizations around the galaxy. “Given the downside could be much bigger than the upside, this doesn’t sound to me like a good situation in which to take active steps toward contact,”He stated.
In the past, weaker signals were transmitted into space by using old technologies like the 1974 Arecibo message. In 1999 and 2003, Russian scientists broadcast a number of these messages, known as Cosmic Calls. Sandberg believed that “the poor aliens might already be getting various messages sent for all sorts of reasons.”
Researchers with the BITG Group have suggested that an alien species capable of communicating through the cosmos could be found. “very likely have attained high levels of cooperation amongst themselves and thus will know the importance of peace and collaboration.”George Dvorsky, Canadian futurist, rejected this theory. “old trope,”He can think of an answer to the question “What is he thinking?” “host of scenarios”In which extraterrestrials have malevolent tendencies are still present