Re: Alien Communication Re: Ethics of being a Creator

Anders Sandberg (
29 Apr 1998 10:31:11 +0200

"Jones, Spike" <> writes:

> alien intelligences could
> send us black and white photos of themselves, newsprint style, using a long
> string of binary digits. i dont think the whales have ever attemped such a
> thing.

As Paul Hughes has pointed out, this assumes a lot about how we
represent information. I ran into a similar problem when running a sf
roleplaying scenario where the aliens were blind - sending pictures
was useless, since they couldn't figure out what they represented when
displayed on their tactile screens. Our vision is heavily based on
edge detection, but the aliens couldn't figure out what all the lines
and curves in the signal represented since they had no obvious 2D to
3D map.

> i suspect that when we finally do receive signals from the cosmos, they will
> be easy to understand, by careful design. gj

If the aliens want to communicate. My sf scenario actually involved a
war in order to *avoid* communication; see for a description.

I agree that it would be possible to send a message that is so
unlikely to have emerged from natural processes that it is obvious
that it is artificial. But interpreting it might be extremely hard.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y