Active SETI: Not Yet

Friday, 13 February 2015: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Room 220C (San Jose Convention Center)
David Brin, Futures Unlimited, Encinitas, CA
"When an endeavor aims to alter one of Earth's fundamental traits, it is only wise to test that activity with scrutiny and wide-open discussion. Despite their openly-stated goal of transforming human destiny, those who would vastly amplify our planet's non-equilibrium signature - in radio and other wavelengths - have avoided exposing their plans to collegial due-diligence. Excuses range from "Earth civilization is already detected" to "any extraterrestrial society will be altruistic," but none of these rationalizations have been subjected to scientific-adversarial appraisal by experts in anthropology, biology or human history. No single good or bad scenario for First Contact can be called likely, but any list of plausible or possible risks should be laid on the table and reviewed via methods like the Asilomar Process, by which genetic researchers established best practices, simultaneously minimizing peril while enhancing quality research. Indeed, it has been self-defeating to limit discussion, as public attention to the complex and fascinating issue would only augment support for SETI.   We propose a consensus call for international and public consultations before humanity takes a brash and irreversible step  -- shouting our presence into the cosmos."