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Author Topic:   Detecting Intelligence - SETI and ID Compared
Straggler
Member (Idle past 12 days)
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 1 of 46 (644901)
12-21-2011 1:05 PM


What do SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and the Intelligent Design movement have in common? They both operate under the premise that we are able to meaningfully discern between things which have been intelligently designed by non-humans and things which haven’t been designed at all. Are they correct? If so what is the methodology for reliably and objectively distinguishing between things which are intelligently designed and things which may appear to be but which in fact occur naturally without the involvement of any conscious intent?

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. Certainly SETI enthusiasts would consider it as such.

But what exactly is it that makes this an example of intelligent design? On what basis are we concluding conscious intelligent intent? And should this sort of example give IDists hope that their claims of detecting intelligent design of a more general sort has any validity?

If SETI can spot intelligent design what method are they using and can IDists apply the same methods?


Replies to this message:
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 Message 6 by nwr, posted 12-21-2011 2:20 PM Straggler has not yet responded
 Message 12 by bluegenes, posted 12-21-2011 6:09 PM Straggler has responded
 Message 18 by frako, posted 12-22-2011 4:24 AM Straggler has not yet responded
 Message 37 by Just being real, posted 12-23-2011 6:07 AM Straggler has not yet responded

  
Straggler
Member (Idle past 12 days)
Posts: 10285
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 12 days)
Posts: 10285
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 12 days)
Posts: 10285
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.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Taq, posted 12-21-2011 5:48 PM Taq has responded

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 Message 24 by Taq, posted 12-22-2011 12:05 PM Straggler has responded

  
Straggler
Member (Idle past 12 days)
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 33 of 46 (645061)
12-22-2011 7:21 PM
Reply to: Message 24 by Taq
12-22-2011 12:05 PM


Taq writes:

Are we sending out a signal like the one you describe, one that could be detected across large galactic distances?

I don't know. But if we are sending signals and we want to say something like "We exist and we are reasonably intelligent" then the sort of signal I descibed would seem a decent way of doing that.

But I am not claiming any special knowledge or expertise here. Frankly I naively thought I was onto an original (in EvC terms) comparison until Mod and others made it obvious that this topic has done the rounds previously.

Taq writes:

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.

OK. This brings us back to the thread focus. How could they tell it was intelligently sourced? What exactlyis it that gives it away? Specifity? Complexity? What?

I ask not because I disagree with you but because I don't know exactly what it is that does make something obviously intelligently sourced.

IDists throw up all sorts of things. Information. Specifity. Complexity. Etc. But when you ask them in what way these things are exhibited and how you can tell them from that which occurs without intelligence they fudge and fumble and ultimately resort to an "It's obvious when you see it" approach.

If SETI is different (and I think it is) I am asking in what sense exactly is it different in terms of objectively differentiating between genuine intelligent sourcing and the sort of thinking that leads some to conclude that life on Earth (for example) must be intelligently designed.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


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Straggler
Member (Idle past 12 days)
Posts: 10285
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 34 of 46 (645064)
12-22-2011 7:49 PM
Reply to: Message 32 by New Cat's Eye
12-22-2011 3:20 PM


SETI is seeking out any intelligence that has come to the same conclusions about communicating across interstellar distances that we have.

Now you could (and I would) say that such a conclusion is based on objective knowledge of physical reality and the way in which certain aspects of physical reality (i.e. what we know as EM waves) behave. In which case the type of intelligence is largely irrelevant except in so far as it is able to discern aspects of objective reality.

Or you could say that such conclusions are dependent on the type of intelligence that has drawn such a conclusion. In which case only an intelligence very similar to our own wouldconceivably do such a thing.

Rahvin, I and even you seem to be assuming/arguing the former approach. Jar sorta ambiguously seems to be taking te latter approach.

CS about jar writes:

Your questioning can be a bit cryptic...

In my experience jar can be a contributor of great significance when he can be arsed. But when he can't be arsed, and I would suggest his arsedness drops dramatically when he is significantly challenged in any way, he resorts to trite ambiguous soundbites that aren't worth the posting space.


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Replies to this message:
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