The raw ingredients for life are everywhere in the Universe, and with hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy alone — one of trillions in the visible Universe — the first discovery of life, of complex life, and of intelligent life beyond our world will change everything. But it won’t usher in a future where humans and aliens meet, exchange technology and build a galactic future together. It won’t even result in a meaningful two-way conversation. Even optimistic estimates for the number of intelligent species put the average round-trip communication time at greater than a human lifetime. The speed of light just isn’t fast enough.
Instead, imagine everything you’d hope to find out from contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence. What are they like? What’s their culture like? Their music, art, religions, and languages. Not to mention their culture, technology and their conception of the Universe? How does their biology work? How does the biochemistry of everything on their world function? You’d want to know who they are, how they came to be, how they work, what their civilization was like, where they’re from and whether they’re still around or not. If they still exist, you’d want to be able to contact them; if they no longer exist, you’d want to know everything about the moments when they did. There’s a full suite of knowledge about their civilization that must exist, and you’d want to know it all.
All of art, science, philosophy, religion, psychology, history and more could be our gift to the Universe. We could create a blueprint for Earth: a time capsule for humanity. We could send a digital Noah’s Ark to the stars, complete with the DNA of every known species Earth has ever housed. It could even contain a blueprint for you. A message like that, broadcast with enough power, will arrive at any potential listener, whether they’re hundreds, thousands or even millions of light years away. Even if we’re already gone when it arrives, that message will be humanity’s ultimate legacy to the cosmos.
THE FOUR PROGRAM MESSAGE
As the Interstellar Beacon organization, we propose to construct a high-powered laser that would begin broadcasting Earth’s message. We put forth the scientific and sociological case for a four-program message;
The first program is an Interstellar Rosetta Stone, encapsulating language, communication and how to decode our message.
The second is an Interstellar Time Capsule, detailing all natural and anthropological history known at present, and containing a full suite of the art and science of humanity.
The third is an Interstellar Noah’s Ark, containing the sequenced genomes of as many living creatures on Earth as possible.
The fourth and final program is an Interstellar Human Nursery, with an instruction suite for recreating humans.
We also refute the assumption that aliens would be hostile to us. If ET does detect our signals while humanity is still here, we would send the same message content. Soon we will present a plan for an infrared laser transmitter, "The Interstellar Beacon" that will being broadcasting as soon as technically feasible.
B A C K U P E A R T H
A plan for backing up Earth. Since the 1960s, humanity’s attempts to contact alien civilizations have been focused primarily on listening endeavors, such as SETI. However, the lack of signals may not mean that extraterrestrials aren’t there; they may be absent simply because we have not yet sufficiently announced our presence. Efforts towards broadcasting an interstellar signal are collectively known as METI: Messaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. Attempts at METI have been minimal due to a combination of factors, including the latency of two-way communication, fear of contacting a malevolent civilization, and cost. We contend that two-way communication should not be the impetus for METI, but that the near-term risk of humanity’s demise provides a more pressing concern: we need to backup Earth.