To find ET, we must open our minds beyond a deeply rooted, Earth-centric perspective, expand our research methods and deploy new tools. Advanced intelligent life is probably abundant in the universe, but can be very different from us. We need to understand how to identify it. In order to do so, a radical change in current methodologies is needed.
Research director of SETI, Nathalie Cabrol, proposes a more multidisciplinary approach in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, beyond radio and optics. According to Cabrol, we must remain open-minded about Alien lifeforms and have a lesser anthropocentric stance when looking for ET.
In an article published in the journal Astrobiology, Cabrol suggests the need for a radical change in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, with a combination of physical, biological, computer and social sciences, joined on a mission to search for life in different forms we may not even know exists.
Cabrol asserts that “To find ET, we must open our minds beyond a deeply rooted, Earth-centric perspective, expand our research methods and deploy new tools. Never before has so much data been available in so many scientific disciplines to help us grasp the role of probabilistic events in the development of extraterrestrial intelligence. These data tell us that each world is a unique planetary experiment. Advanced intelligent life is likely plentiful in the universe, but may be very different from us, based on what we now know of the co-evolution of life and environment.”
Led by pioneers such as Frank Drake and Jill Tarter, SETI-the Search for extraterrestrial intelligence began in the 1960s using radio astronomy to ‘listen’ to potential signals sent from our cosmic neighbours. Today, we search for radio and optical signals generated by a technology similar to ours. And even though there are compelling reasons to continue with these efforts, it is equally convincing expand the search criteria and accept existing and other methodologies that might prove useful in the near future.
This is why Cabrol promotes the establishment of a Virtual Institute with the participation of the global scientific community. The new Virtual SETI Institute would integrate our new knowledge to understand who aliens might be and where they might be located. Cabrol proposes we should break the constraints imposed by only suggesting extraterrestrial necessarily needs to be similar to us.
“The timing is right for SETI research around the world to open a new chapter in its history. The SETI Institute is taking the lead on this new path,” says Bill Diamond, President, and CEO of the SETI Institute. “In the coming months, we will invite the US and international research communities to contribute to a new scientific roadmap for SETI. We will explore resources for the development of a Virtual Institute, and an intellectual framework for projects focused on the advancement of knowledge on extraterrestrial intelligence,” said Cabrol.