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Author Topic:   Detecting Intelligence - SETI and ID Compared
Rahvin
Member (Idle past 537 days)
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 16 of 46 (644958)
12-21-2011 8:07 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by jar
12-21-2011 7:47 PM


Re: a critter like us
We also know that at least two other species that use broadcast transmission for communication use methods and technology that would not be detectable across even interplanetary distances.

So again, SETI is not so much looking for "intelligence" as for "intelligence that is like us".

That's the thing, Jar - only the EM spectrum, so far as we know, can be used to communicate at even planetary distances (excluding methods that are ridiculously difficult, like neutrino transmission and detection). Want to send a message from Australia to the UK? You use the EM band and a satellite relay, or else you lay a LOT of cable, or you send a courier. That's it.

It's not about being "like us." It's a problem that any species will need to overcome in order to communicate at reasonable distances.

That means that any suitably intelligent species will at some point be almost certain to use the EM spectrum for communication. Unless that species is significantly concerned about security for all communication (perhaps they became paranoid about alien intelligence before establishing global communication and so restricted all EM communication to narrow-beam to prevent anyone from "hearing" them right from the start, etc), those transmissions will be broadcast. If they use a decent level of power (on the order you'd need to transmit signals to distant locations on the same planet), those broadcasts will be detectable at interplanetary distances.

You're hanging on to this "like us" nonsense, but it's just that - nonsense. The EM spectrum is an easy method of fast communication that any suitably intelligent species is likely to be aware of.

SETI isn't "the search for extraterrestrial life," it's the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, meaning intelligence on a similar or higher level than our own. Yes, whales can communicate over large distances though sound waves. They are not a technologically based species, they are not human-similar in intelligence, they aren't what SETI is looking for in the first place. That intelligence may (and almost certainly will be) significantly different from our own, but given that the aliens will face the same Universe we face, they're likely to use similar technological means to overcome challenges like long-range communication. We aren't looking for interstellar bacteria that bioluminesce to communicate the presence of food or a predator, we're looking for extraterrestrial intelligence capable of abstract thought and communication.

If your definition of "like us" is so broad as to include all technologically aware species, I think you need to re-evaluate your definition of what it means to be an alien intelligence. Just because another species is likely to build a radio transmitter doesn't mean it will look or think anything like a human being.

Again, it's not a "like us" question. We simply face the same Universe and will need to overcome the same problems, and there are a limited number of solutions to problems like communication over large distances. One is easy and effective and within our capacity to detect, so we're looking for that method.


“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.”
- Francis Bacon

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers


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jar
Member
Posts: 28433
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 17 of 46 (644959)
12-21-2011 8:16 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Rahvin
12-21-2011 8:07 PM


Re: a critter like us
It appears that whales communicate over pretty long distances.

Elephants communicate over really long distance.

We use EM.

They don't.

SETI is looking for critters that use EM, like us.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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frako
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Posts: 2678
From: slovenija
Joined: 09-04-2010
Member Rating: 2.0


Message 18 of 46 (644984)
12-22-2011 4:24 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
12-21-2011 1:05 PM


Thig is i doubt we will find signals from aliens because using anythign we have at our disposal is pointles in the vastnes of space.

Say an alien vessel is pakerd behind jupiter and its home planet in the closest solar system to us wants to call the ship home because they are at ware and need its firepower. It would take any of our signals 20Years to get to the ship by that time the message would be old news either they where conqured or they won.

There is no point of sending such signals across the universe. Either they have some subspace signal technology that we would not be able to detect. Or they simply dont send signals anywhere.


Christianity, One woman's lie about an affair that got seriously out of hand

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Straggler
Member (Idle past 99 days)
Posts: 10188
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 19 of 46 (644987)
12-22-2011 6:20 AM
Reply to: Message 17 by jar
12-21-2011 8:16 PM


Re: a critter like us
jar writes:

It appears that whales communicate over pretty long distances.

Elephants communicate over really long distance.

We use EM.

They don't.

SETI is looking for critters that use EM, like us.

We don't use EM naturally. We developed EM technologies in order to communicate because they allow us to do things that out natural vocal audio communication doesn't.

Some alien equivalent of cavemen might conceivably be very very much like us in all sorts of ways. But SETI wouldn't find them unless they had reached a technological level of EM communication.

SETI is seeking any species advanced enough to have realised and utilised the benefits of using EM communication.

That doesn't make them necessarily "like us" beyond some equivelant understanding of physics.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


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Straggler
Member (Idle past 99 days)
Posts: 10188
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 20 of 46 (644988)
12-22-2011 6:24 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by bluegenes
12-21-2011 6:09 PM


Good answer. In fact I think you have nailed the question posed in terms of comapring ID and SETI.
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Straggler
Member (Idle past 99 days)
Posts: 10188
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 21 of 46 (644989)
12-22-2011 6:29 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by Taq
12-21-2011 5:48 PM


OK. I get what you are saying about what SETI are actually doing. But it is possible to recognise non-human intelligent sourcing from the content and type of signal isn't it?

If (for example) we were to detect a repeated signal from a far off star expressing the value of Pi to 128 decimal places in binary emitted at the frequency of the Hydrogen line I would suggest that we could very reasonably consider this a sign of intelligent beings.

If SETI found such a signal I'm sure they would consider it as such.


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Taq
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Posts: 6014
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.6


(1)
Message 22 of 46 (645020)
12-22-2011 11:57 AM
Reply to: Message 17 by jar
12-21-2011 8:16 PM


Re: a critter like us
It appears that whales communicate over pretty long distances.
Elephants communicate over really long distance.

Do they communicate with sattelites orbitting distant planets?

SETI is looking for critters that use EM, like us.

I think Rahvin has done a very nice job of laying out why a curious, intelligent species that needs to communicate across interplanetary distances would use EM, at least at some point in their technological advancement. The "like us" part of the search is really about looking for species that need to communicate between each other over interplanetary and even intercontinental distances. EM offers a solution that solves this problem. Intelligent species would use it, at least at some point in their history. They may have a hive mind, morals and culture we can never understand, or even interpersonal routes of communication that are completely foreign to us. However, there is every reason to believe that they would use EM for communication at some point.

So what we are looking for is a known and very likely solution to a problem that every intelligent space faring species will have to overcome.


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jar
Member
Posts: 28433
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 23 of 46 (645022)
12-22-2011 12:01 PM
Reply to: Message 22 by Taq
12-22-2011 11:57 AM


Re: a critter like us
How many species have used the EM spectrum that we know about?

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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 Message 22 by Taq, posted 12-22-2011 11:57 AM Taq has responded

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 Message 26 by Rahvin, posted 12-22-2011 2:46 PM jar has responded

  
Taq
Member
Posts: 6014
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.6


Message 24 of 46 (645023)
12-22-2011 12:05 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by Straggler
12-22-2011 6:29 AM


If (for example) we were to detect a repeated signal from a far off star expressing the value of Pi to 128 decimal places in binary emitted at the frequency of the Hydrogen line I would suggest that we could very reasonably consider this a sign of intelligent beings.

If SETI found such a signal I'm sure they would consider it as such.

OK. I get what you are saying about what SETI are actually doing. But it is possible to recognise non-human intelligent sourcing from the content and type of signal isn't it?
If (for example) we were to detect a repeated signal from a far off star expressing the value of Pi to 128 decimal places in binary emitted at the frequency of the Hydrogen line I would suggest that we could very reasonably consider this a sign of intelligent beings.

If SETI found such a signal I'm sure they would consider it as such.

Would we be able to decipher something akin to the signals we send to our satellites, like Voyager (or V-ger ? That, I don't know. I suspect that we could, or at least come very close. Humans are good at cracking codes, even those that are designed to hide their purpose and content. Then again, this is a case of humans breaking human code.

Are we sending out a signal like the one you describe, one that could be detected across large galactic distances? I don't think we are, are we? If a distant civilization picked up our signal they could at least determine that we are using a binary code of some sort, or at least using modulation within the signal to convey information. I think this would be enough to determine that there is an intelligence behind the signal.


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Taq
Member
Posts: 6014
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.6


(1)
Message 25 of 46 (645024)
12-22-2011 12:07 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by jar
12-22-2011 12:01 PM


Re: a critter like us
How many species have used the EM spectrum that we know about?

100% of the intelligent, space faring species that use intercontinental communication. Of course that 100% is 1 of 1, but still . . .


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Rahvin
Member (Idle past 537 days)
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 26 of 46 (645032)
12-22-2011 2:46 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by jar
12-22-2011 12:01 PM


Re: a critter like us
How many species have used the EM spectrum that we know about?

...

How many human-level intelligent species do we know about?

Come on, Jar. The whole point of SET is to discover if we are alone in the Universe. Obviously the currently-known set of species is currently confined to our own, that's the entire point!

We aren't looking for space whales or intergalactic cockroaches or stellar orangutans or gas-giant jellyfish. We're looking for intelligent life. We won't detect space cavemen or Romulans that send all transmissions via tight-band because they're paranoid or Wookies who use hyperspace relays we don't think are even possible for communication, but we should be able to find a very wide spectrum of intelligent life (presuming it exists at all) by listening to the EM spectrum simply because it's the easiest method for fast communication over even intercontinental distances allowed by the laws of physics and it lends itself easily to broadcast as opposed to being limited to tight-band only.

Your definition of "like us" is literally so broad as to include all conceivable species that use technology to communicate, as opposed to space whales. There could be silicon-based eyeless exoskeletal xenomorphs out there with acid blood transmitting who knows what to each other, or metallic evolved electronic-based entities from Cybertron that developed a planet-wide interconnected network requiring satellite relays to get around line-of-sight, aliens need not be anything remotely like us except that they want to communicate over large distances even on their own planet and happen to reside in the same Universe we do.


“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.”
- Francis Bacon

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers


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 Message 23 by jar, posted 12-22-2011 12:01 PM jar has responded

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jar
Member
Posts: 28433
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 27 of 46 (645033)
12-22-2011 2:56 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by Rahvin
12-22-2011 2:46 PM


Re: a critter like us
Actually my definition of like us would include only those technologies that use non directional broadcasted EM, and if you actually look at what humans have done, they use wide area broadcast as little as possible even now.

That hardly seems broad.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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New Cat's Eye
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Posts: 11176
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 28 of 46 (645035)
12-22-2011 2:59 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by jar
12-21-2011 5:53 PM


My question is could it detect something as being intelligent if the other thing was totally alien to our current technology?

No.

Is SETI defining intelligence as "just like us"?

Yes.

So?


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 Message 11 by jar, posted 12-21-2011 5:53 PM jar has responded

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jar
Member
Posts: 28433
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 29 of 46 (645036)
12-22-2011 3:03 PM
Reply to: Message 28 by New Cat's Eye
12-22-2011 2:59 PM


So it is not looking for "intelligence" but rather a "technology like what we use".

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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New Cat's Eye
Member
Posts: 11176
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 30 of 46 (645037)
12-22-2011 3:07 PM
Reply to: Message 29 by jar
12-22-2011 3:03 PM


"They're not looking for round red fruit, they're looking for apples".

A "technology like what we use" would require intelligence, so they are looking for signs of intelligence, its just that there looking for a subset of all that which could be called intelligence.

But that doesn't mean they're not looking for intelligence at all.


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