Arthur C. Clarke's third law states that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Since 1960, SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) researchers have been searching for that ‘magic’ in the form of radio, and now optical, electromagnetic signals. These searches need to continue and grow utilizing the exponentially increasing capabilities of computing, but within the SETI field, we’ve always reserved the right to get smarter. In 2014, Karl Schroeder (Canadian futurist and science fiction author) suggested a variant of the Third Law; Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Nature. What opportunities does this increased scope of the Third Law offer to our own 21 st century search for life beyond Earth? As we design and implement the next generations of ground and space based observatories, some of whose primary goals are the imaging of exoplanets and the spectroscopic analysis of their atmospheres, we should consider how we might distinguish between the byproducts of microbes and mathematicians. We are vigorously discussing/debating the right instruments to develop and fly to find biosignatures - how can we find the technosignatures of the mathematicians?
Speaker: Jill Tarter, SETI , emeritus
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