Introduction to the METI Issues


J. Benford (2014), JBIS67, pp.5-7

Refcode: 2014.67.5
Keywords: Extraterrestrial intelligence, SETI, METI, Interstellar flight, Active SETI, Contact

Understanding the controversy over “Messages to Extra Terrestrial Intelligence” or METI requires a grounding in the history and rationale of SETI (Search for ETI). Insights since the turn of the century have changed SETI’s scientific basis. Continued null results from the radio search do not invalidate continuing effort, but they do raise questions about long-held assumptions. Modified search strategies are discussed. The Great Silence or Fermi Paradox is appraised, along with the disruptive plausibility of interstellar travel. Psychological motivations for METI are considered. With this underpinning, we consider why a small cadre of SETI-ist radio astronomers have resisted the notion of international consultations before humanity takes a brash and irreversible step into METI, shouting our presence into the cosmos.