Scientists may without intention send viruses into space while trying to contact aliens
Experts at the Oxford University have cautioned that humans may unintentionally send dangerous computer viruses or spam aliens while trying to contact them.
In the hope of getting in touch with the extraterrestrial life, a working group of astronomers, philosophers and academics are currently making efforts to come up with a universal message to send out.
The UK research network for SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) voted in favor of making efforts to reach out to alien life forms in September. However, they are unsure on what is that they need to send. They are also concerned that the technology of other civilizations could be infected, if they accidentally happen to send viruses into space.
Dr Anders Sandberg of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University speaking at the British Science Festival, said humans must be very careful about what digital messages they send out into space.
“The classic example of message would be a series of pulses which showed binary numbers, DNA, sketch of solar system or the number of humans,” he said.
“But it turns out there are some security problems. Languages can hide a lot of information. We’re worried about malware being sent to aliens.
“I am kind of split on whether it is a good idea. I see some problems. I favour it a little bit more. But I can see it going either way.
Some people think we’re already spamming the universe with reality soaps.”
To have a say in what message can be send to space, the UK research network for SETI (UKSRN) has joined hands with the Breakthrough Message Initiative and is inviting the public for the same. The best ideas could win a prize amount of $1 million offered by the above duo.
The initiative was significant for supporting humanity to look to itself and make a decision as to how they would want to be seen by extraterrestrial life.
“I am very explicitly in favour. I think it makes us do reflect back on ourselves. I think it would be arrogant to think we were the only ones. But in the timeline of the universe whether we will be around at the same time, that is a different matter.”
Dr Sandburg added: “The search for extraterrestrial intelligence is very relevant because it helps us figure out more about the possibilities and fate of intelligence in the universe.
“The silence in the sky either tells us we are rare and unique, and therefore responsible for the future of life in the universe, a huge burden. Or that there is something very dangerous out there which is worth worrying about.
“Whatever the answer is, it is bound to profoundly affect how we see ourselves and the universe.”