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44 Years After Its First Message to Aliens, Arecibo Observatory Calls For Follow-Up

by Alan Boyle                     November 16, 2018                         (geekwire.com)

• In 1974, the first Arecibo Message transmitted from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico was designed by SETI astronomers including Frank Drake and Carl Sagen and was beamed by radio transmission from the Arecibo telescope in the direction of the M13 star cluster in the constellation Hercules. It was meant as an intergalactic greeting from planet Earth.  (see image of message below)

• The shapes shown on the Arecibo Message grid represent a variety of concepts ranging from the numbers 1 through 10 to the chemical constituents of DNA, our solar system’s planets and the telescope itself, plus a stick figure that stands for humanity. Other types of messages have been sent out periodically since then as well.

• Since the first transmission was sent in 1974, the three minutes’ worth of radio waves have rippled out to a distance of 44 light-years, or less than 0.2 percent of the way to M13 star cluster. Experts acknowledge that it’s extremely unlikely the message will ever be detected and decoded by an alien civilization.

• Now the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo Observatory wants to transmit a second Arecibo Message from Arecibo’s 1,000-foot-wide radio telescope. They’ve announced a student-focused competition to design a new message to beam to extraterrestrials. In order to qualify and ultimately register, student competitors will first need to solve a series of brain-teasing puzzles posted on Arecibo’s website. The contest is open to teams from around the world, in classes ranging from kindergarten to college. Each team should consist of five students plus an adult mentor – for example, a teacher, professor or professional scientist. The first challenge will be posted on December 16th. Clues and follow-up activities will be rolled out periodically over the next year, and the winning team is due to be revealed next fall during a celebration of the Arecibo Message’s 45th anniversary.  (see 1:08 minute video below)

• Experts continue to debate the wisdom of broadcasting our existence to the rest of the universe. Most famously, the late physicist Stephen Hawking said letting extraterrestrials know where we are could turn out as badly for us as Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World turned out for Native Americans.

 

The Arecibo Observatory today kicked off a student-focused competition to design a new message to beam to extraterrestrials, 44 years to the day since the first deliberate message was sent out from Arecibo’s 1,000-foot-wide radio telescope.

“Our society and our technology have changed a lot since 1974,” Francisco Cordova, the observatory’s director, said in a news release. “So if we were assembling our message today, what would it say? What would it look like? What one would need to learn to be able to design the right updated message from the earthlings? Those are the questions we are posing to young people around the world through the New Arecibo Message – the global challenge.”

 The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico

It’s not just about the message, however: Competitors will have to solve brain-teasing puzzles posted on Arecibo’s website in order to qualify, get instructions, register and submit their designs. Along the way, they’ll learn about space science, the scientific method and Arecibo’s story.

“We have quite a few surprises in store for participants, and we will be sharing more details as the competition progresses,” Cordova said.

The contest is open to teams from around the world, in classes ranging from kindergarten to college. Each team should consist of five students plus an adult mentor – for example, a teacher, professor or professional scientist. The first challenge will be posted on Dec. 16.

The 1st Arecibo Message

“Teams should wait until the release of the first challenge on December 16, since they will need to solve that challenge to be able to register,” Abel Méndez, director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, told me in an email. “Meanwhile, team leaders should subscribe to the Arecibo newsletter for updates and start forming their own teams.”

Clues and follow-up activities will be rolled out periodically over the next year, and the winning team is due to be revealed next fall during a celebration of the Arecibo Message’s 45th anniversary.

 

1:08 minute video on the 1974 Arecibo Message

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MIT Scientists Propose Giant Laser Beacon to Attract Alien Attention

by Brandon A. Weber                     November 7, 2018                          (bigthink.com)


• Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts (MIT) have published an article in The Astrophysical Journal proposing the construction of a laser beam that could reach up to 20,000 light years away in order to initiate communication with extraterrestrial worlds.

• The MIT article proposes a laser beam “feasibility study” likened to a porch light in our little neighborhood of the galaxy. “If we were to successfully close a handshake and start to communicate, we could flash a message, at a data rate of about a few hundred bits per second, which would get there in just a few years,” said James Clark, graduate student in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and author of the study.

• Using laser technology, we can establish a channel of intergalactic communication capable of 2mbps speeds, like a slow DSL internet connection, allowing a technologically advanced extraterrestrial race to similarly “talk back”. Of course, the communication line itself has to be established first, and that could take decades or even centuries.

• The question of whether it’s actually wise to be broadcasting laser beams and trying to contact aliens around our galaxy is up for hot discussion. In 2010, Stephen Hawking suggested we might not want to reveal ourselves to an alien civilization in the habit of plundering defenseless world like ours. Conversely, in his novel, Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. suggested that benevolent alien beings might very well encounter hostile Earthlings.

• American and French scientists have already been working on an Avlis copper/dye laser beam at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, for astronomical observation.

 

An Avlis copper/dye laser emits a laser beam guide star into the night skies behind a telescope at the Lawrence Livermore National Labratory in Livermore, California 12 January. Scientists from the US and France sent the beam skyward during a series of experiments to attempt to refine technology for astronomical observation.

A new article by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology was just published in The Astrophysical Journal, and it’s proposing that humans can build a laser capable of effectively sending out beams to various locations—a relatively close proximity, granted—that would create enough of an anomaly in the light signals that are already broadcast by our own Sun that an intelligent alien civilization could see it and go… wait, what?!

Potentially, the laser beams could reach up to 20,000 light years away.

“If we were to successfully close a handshake and start to communicate, we could flash a message, at a data rate of about a few hundred bits per second, which would get there in just a few years,” said James Clark, graduate student in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and author of the study.

In the MIT article announcing the “feasibility study,” the concept was likened to a porch light in our little neighborhood of the galaxy.

It’s possible to accomplish, according to MIT, and it could create a tantalizing reality in which communication lines can be established with said civilization, once found.

It gets even more interesting if we happen upon aliens who understand what it is, and then, basically “talk back” using similar methods of communication; using lasers, we can establish a channel capable of 2mbps speeds. In other words, a somewhat slow but still capable Internet connection. Think basic DSL type of data transfers.

Of course, the communication line itself has to be established first, and that could take decades or even centuries.

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FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. ExoNews.org distributes this material for the purpose of news reporting, educational research, comment and criticism, constituting Fair Use under 17 U.S.C § 107. Please contact the Editor at ExoNews with any copyright issue.

Hate Speech Initiative a Trojan Horse for AI Takeover of Humanity

A February 8 video by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) promotes a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) based algorithm it calls the “Online Hate Index” which is aimed at identifying hate speech. The ADL believes that the AI algorithm can be used by social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter to identify and quickly remove hate speech.

In the video, Brittan Heller, the Director of the ADL Center for Technology & Society says the goal of the index is to:

Help tech platforms better understand the growing amount of hate on social media, and to use that information to address the problem. By combining Artificial Intelligence and machine learning and social science, the Online Hate Index will ultimately uncover and identify trends and patterns in hate speech across different platforms.

In its “Phase I Innovation Brief” published January 2018 on its website, the ADL further explains how “machine learning”, a form of Artificial Intelligence based on algorithms, can be used to identify and remove hate speech from social media platforms:

The Online Hate Index (OHI), a joint initiative of ADL’s Center for Technology and Society and UC Berkeley’s D-Lab, is designed to transform human understanding of hate speech via machine learning into a scalable tool that can be deployed on internet content to discover the scope and spread of online hate speech. Through a constantly-evolving process of machine learning, based on a protocol developed by a team of human coders as to what does and does not constitute hate speech, this tool will uncover and identify trends and patterns in hate speech across different online platforms, allowing us to push for the changes necessary to ensure that online communities are safe and inclusive spaces.

The ADL’s Online Hate Index is described as “a sentiment-based analysis that runs off of machine learning.” The ADL Brief goes on to say:

All the decisions that went into each step of creating the OHI were done with the aim of building a machine learning-enabled model that can be used to identify and help us understand hate speech online.

What the ADL and other promoters of AI based algorithms fail to grasp is the potential of AI to evolve through its programmed capacity for “machine learning” into the kind of fearsome interconnected sentient intelligence featured in movies such as the Terminator and Battlestar Galactica.

It is well known that scientists/inventors such as Stephen Hawkins and Elon Musk have been loudly warning about the long term threat posed by AI. They and others believe that AI poses an existential threat to humanity, and needs to be closely controlled and monitored. In a 2014 speech Musk said:

I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful with artificial intelligence…. ‘I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish… With artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon. You know those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram, and the holy water, and … he’s sure he can control the demon? Doesn’t work out.

Musk’s view was echoed by Stephen Hawking who warned against the danger of AI in an interview with the BBC in December 2014:

The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race…. It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate.… Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.

Similarly, Corey Goode, an alleged insider revealing the existence of multiple secret space programs, claims that AI is already a threat in deep space operations. When he first emerged in early 2015, Goode focused a great deal of attention on the AI threat, and continues to warn about it today.

He says that these programs, along with extraterrestrial civilizations, take strict security precautions to identify and remove any kind of AI signature:

There are a few ET “AI” Groups (ALL Malevolent to Humanity, from our perspective) that the SSP(s) (There are several Secret Space Programs) have been dealing with for decades.

If an “Asset” is “Scanned” and has a “Bio Neuro AI Signature”, “AI Nano Tech” or “Overlapping AI related EMG type Brian Wave Signature” (Or any other sign of AI exposure) those persons are immediately placed in isolation and are not allowed anywhere near the current era SSP(s) Technology (Which is “Mostly” Bio-Neurological and Consciousness Interactive) until they have been “Cleared” of all AI influences.

Now, let’s analyze all this in terms of what the ADL is proposing for social media platforms to use AI based algorithms to identify hate speech.

At first look, there is great appeal in the idea of monitoring speech and regulating people promoting fear, hate or violence against others whether on social, religious or economic grounds. After all, we all want to live in a peaceful and tolerant world, which includes cyberspace, so why not exclude intolerant and hateful individuals and groups from our social media platforms?

The big problem here of course is that there is a real danger that social media can be surreptitiously used to exclude dissenting political viewpoints under the guise of regulating hate speech. We see this already occurring with Youtube using an army of 10,000 volunteers from groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Many popular YouTube channels are being increasingly targeted by strikes and removals for behavior characterized as bullying or hate speech. Yet, this YouTube crackdown appears to be a cleverly disguised politically driven campaign to remove alternative voices questioning the official media narrative on a great number of social issues, rather than really cracking down on hate speech. I’ve written about the problem here.

What ADL is proposing, however, goes well beyond what YouTube is currently doing. The ADL is openly promoting a censorship system where it won’t be humans doing the actual monitoring and removal of hate speech but an AI algorithm. What might be the result of this if allowed to occur given the warnings of AI posed by Hawking, Musk and Goode?

It doesn’t take an Einstein to realize that if social media platforms did allow AI algorithms to monitor and censor content, that warnings about a future AI threat would themselves eventually be deemed to be a form of hate speech. After all, if corporations can be recognized to have the same rights as individuals according to the infamous Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court in 2010, won’t AI sentience eventually also be recognized to have similar human rights in the U.S.?

We could very easily end up in a dystopian future where different forms of AI are used to monitor and regulate human behavior in egregious ways, and any humans protesting or warning what the AI system is doing would be censored for hate speech.

Given the existential threat posed by AI, if we accept what Hawking, Musk and Goode are telling us, let alone the inappropriateness of censoring alternative news perspectives in the first place, then free speech needs to be protected on social media at all costs.

In the U.S. this should not present too great challenge given the First Amendment Constitutional right to free speech, and legal remedies available in the Federal court system. Those individuals who threatened legal remedies to YouTube cracking down on their channels appear to have been the most successful in restoring their channels. YouTube apologized to such users for the overzealous behavior of its new army of 10,000 moderators. 

However, the U.S. is an island in a vast ocean where other countries do actively punish individuals and groups for hate speech. This is where the future appears ominous given the temptation for national regulators to eventually punish social media platforms that don’t regulate hate speech. This would force Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other platforms to adopt the AI based algorithms recommended by the ADL or other organizations for widespread usage.

This is likely to lead to a situation where major nations such as China, or supranational entities such as the European Union, might embrace AI algorithms to monitor and regular hate speech. China is already closely monitoring and removing dissident political thought from media platforms through firewalls, and may well be contemplating incorporating AI algorithms to do so more effectively.

While national regulators across the world may be tempted for different reasons to adopt the ADL’s proposal for AI algorithms to identify and remove hate speech, we need to firmly keep in mind that this would create a Trojan horse for eventual AI control of humanity.

Despite the genuine problems posed by hate speech, national regulators need to ensure that social media platforms are never regulated by AI algorithms given the potential for global security to be undermined, and humanity being genuinely imperiled by an AI takeover.

© Michael E. Salla, Ph.D. Copyright Notice

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