Some experts warn about the threat of “harmful alien spam»

Some experts warn about the threat of “harmful alien spam»


Approximately half a century ago, Cornell University astronomer Frank Drake began the National radio Astronomy Observatory in green Bank is one of the first SETI experiments, dubbed “project Ozma”. Since then, scientists have conducted many other similar studies in the hope of finding the so-called “thesignature” — proof of the existence in the vastness of space technologically advanced civilizations (e.g., the same radio).

Many believe that if mankind now received a message from an extraterrestrial civilization, then this event would be the greatest in the entire history of our existence. However, there are those who believe that such a message may carry a potential threat to humanity. Recently in the Network appeared the article, the authors, drawing on many details of the investigated possibilities, speculate about how we could protect itself from such kind of malicious “spam”. The work is published on the website

The study was conducted by the Michael Hippke, independent scientists from Sonneborghe Observatory (Germany) and Professor for high energy physics John Lindam of the University of Hawaii. Together, they decided to assess the risks of experiments, the SETI Institute and, more importantly, came, in their opinion, to disappointing results.

Should immediately say that the opinion on the potential threat of an extraterrestrial civilization to humanity is not just advertised saying. Decades, scientists have considered this aspect as one of the possibilities, and even studied the question of whether the potential benefits of detecting extraterrestrial intelligent civilization to surpass the potential risk of such meeting. As a result, some theorists have come to believe that people should not support the work SETI does and we should make every effort to keep our planet from third-party eyes.

Lernd in conversation with journalists of the portal Universe Today noted that even among researchers of the SETI Institute has never been agreement on whether intelligent extraterrestrial life is benevolent towards us:

“There is no good reason to believe in the benevolence of extraterrestrial civilizations. Even if we assume that these civilizations have a rich history, culture, and much wiser and older than us. In this issue I tend to rely more on the one that tells us our own story. Perhaps there were cases, when meeting a less advanced and more advanced in terms of technology companies ended well for the first? Of course, the probability of a development of events always exists, but I often imagine the events of the film “Alien”. Because it is, in my opinion, more likely reflects the fact that we can expect in the event of a meeting with aliens”.

If you talk in this way, then think about the potential threat that can be contained in the messages from extraterrestrial civilizations, is indeed grounded.

Given the anticipated size of the Universe and the limitations of the special theory of relativity (in particular we are talking about is no way to move faster than the speed of light), it is logical to assume that any technologically advanced civilization is much more effective, cheaper and easier to send malicious messages that can destroy other civilizations, instead of, say, to throw its own space fleet with the same purpose. On this basis, Lernd and SETI Hippke suggest the signals that are suspicious and potentially dangerous, they “isolate” or, even better, just delete.

The researchers put forward several hypotheses about how these signals can threaten us with.

Besides the obvious option of a message that may contain misinformation, intended to sow panic among our people and lead to total self-destruction of society, there is also the possibility that the signals may contain viruses or any other malicious coded technology, for example, can lead into disrepair all our computers and all electronic devices.

The authors emphasize that the main problem lies in the fact that such malicious messages can be received in several places on our planet, which in turn increases the potential scale of the disaster by transferring it from the category of the local in the global. The trouble is, the researchers note that according to the current “Declaration of principles concerning actions after the detection of extraterrestrial intelligence” (Declaration of Principles Concerning Activities Following the Detection of Extraterrestrial Intelligence), adopted by the International Academy of Astronautics in 1989 and amended in 2010, there’s nothing we can do about it.

The sixth paragraph of that Declaration establishes the following:

“The discovery was confirmed and controlled, and any data relevant to the detection, should be recorded and permanently stored for the widest use in the form available for subsequent analysis and interpretation. C the aim of objective analysis and interpretation of these records should be provided to the international institutions listed above and members of the scientific community”.

In other words, if we receive a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization, then most likely, it will be open to the entire scientific community before it will be confirmed or refuted its potential threat. Even if there is only one receiver that will take all measures in order to keep the message strictly forbidden, even in this case it won’t be long as the other side will find a way to access it. From this the question arises: what can we do in this case?

One of Hippke and Lindam is the use of an analog approach to the interpretation of the messages that have already been used, for example, during impromptu competitions on the decoding of the “alien” signal SETI Decrypt the Challenge, the results of which were published last year.

The experiment was conducted in 2016. Its initiator was rené Heller, a physicist from the max Planck Institute for Solar system research, who repeated the experiment of the legendary astronomer Frank Drake, proving that the Terrans are not stupid representatives of extraterrestrial civilizations, and if anything, will understand them.

A fragment of “alien encryption»

Heller encrypted message binary code and presented in the form of a matrix, containing nearly two millions of ones and zeros. And challenged the Internet community. The experiment was not only a great example of showing what it means to be a researcher of the SETI Institute, but also showed that among the General population there are people who are able to solve such complex problems. To understand even in encrypted signals. Receive and decrypt.

Heller reported that among 300 submitted solutions 66 was correct. The first correct interpretation appeared the very next day after the message was published.

Hippke and Lernd say that the transfer of the received message in simple language and further decoding may be performed without the use of computers in offline mode. The old fashioned way. Using paper and pen. So we can avoid technical problems. In this collective work will help to accelerate this process, which corresponds to the made by Heller to insights, who believes that if you receive a message from extraterrestrial civilizations, we should not hide it from people, but rather to organize a public offering of the received data in order to quickly decipher them.

However, if the message will be composed of complicated codes or even contain the algorithms of some Autonomous AI, in this case, the need to use high performance computers may be unavoidable. In this case, the authors propose to use a different approach to solving the problem is isolated machines that are in a kind of quarantine without access to the Network to accommodate the so-called “prison”.

“In this case means the use of the AI box is an isolated kind of computer system, a “sandbox” within which, if anything, will be locked sent to us threat of AI. Between this “sandbox” and the outside world will be to establish only a minimal channel of communication,” write Hippke and Lernd.

The authors, however, acknowledge that, unfortunately, no prison can be 100 percent effective, and ultimately contain the messages within it may fail.

“The current studies indicate that even a well-designed “sandbox” can be useless in front of a smart AI is able to cheat or convince the human observer in his liberation.”

At the end of the article the authors reported that the only real solution is vigilance. And if we are later going to send messages into space, we must try to make these messages look as “friendly” for all possible recipients. As much as possible.

“I think the vast majority of cases, the message will be considered friendly. But to be sure this is one hundred percent impossible. In place of the representative of another civilization, would you dare to decipher the message that in 99% of cases would contain information about the treatment of all diseases and 1 percent would lead to the death of all life? In our work we want to draw attention to the fact that if we plan to send messages into space, its contents should be as simple and straightforward. As much as possible, and not contain any complex computer code,” concludes Hippke.

If we are talking about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, in this case, you should apply a basic rule of online safety. If us mail a message comes from an unknown source, do not open attached files and immediately send them to the “spam”folder. But if the sender still the same promises to cure us from any known diseases or States that we are a direct descendant of the monarch in the galaxy of Andromeda, and asks to send the money to confirm, in this case, the message should simply be deleted.

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