Scientists have been searching for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations since Frank Drake's first radio survey in 1960. But what would actually happen if SETI's search succeeds? Is there any way we could even make sense of the signal we receive?
Written by an expert in communication systems and translation technology, this book explores the science of interstellar communication. It explains how this process may unfold, how an ET communication link would work, the types of information it could convey and how professionals, amateurs and ordinary people like you would participate in the effort to understand what another civilization has to say.
Along the way, the book introduces readers to many aspects of modern-day communication systems and computing. Featured as well are dozens of illustrations, photos and real-world examples, rounding out this compelling foray into the mechanics of interstellar communication.
"Scientists, policy makers, and all interested in the likely future discovery of alien life will want to read this book."
- Steven J. Dick, Former NASA Chief Historian
Brian S. McConnell is an expert in language technology and design systems, having worked for over ten years in developing translation and localization platforms for startups and growth-stage companies. Most recently, he worked as the Head of Localization for Lyft, building localization systems in Non-US regions; launching a comprehensive Spanish language experience across all driver and passenger touch points; and building in additional languages for regional expansion in Canadian French, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, and others. Prior to this, he was Head of Localization for Medium (a social publishing platform started by Ev Williams) and Insightly. McConnell is the author of Beyond Contact-A Guide To SETI and Communicating with Alien Civilizations (2001), O'Reilly & Associates. It was well regarded, with outstanding reviewers from scientists & science fiction authors alike, including Arthur C. Clarke. In 2016 he coauthored the SpringerBrief A Design For A Water Based Spacecraft Known as the Spacecoach.
About This BookC-DayWhat Happens If SETI Succeeds?The Limits of CommunicationPrerequisites For Interstellar CommunicationIncentives For Interstellar CommunicationIntelligenceObservablesSymbolic CommunicationInteractionMessage Analysis and ComprehensionModulationRadio SignalsAmplitude ModulationPulse Width ModulationPulse Interval ModulationFrequency ModulationPhase ModulationOptical SignalsPulse length modulationPulse Interval ModulationWavelength modulation or multiplexingOther Modulation SchemesHow Much Information Can ET Send?Radio / Microwave CommunicationOptical and Infrared Communication (Pulsed Beacons)Annual Transmission CapacityInscribed Matter & ArtifactsBracewell ProbesConclusionsLessons From Computing and CommunicationsSegmenting DataForward Error CorrectionHow Much Error Correction Is Enough?Building A TreeHinting At Message StructureEntropy: Looking For Order Among RandomnessImagesBitmapsAssisting The Receiver In The Decoding ProcessColor ImagesImage CompressionThree Dimensional Images and ModelsStereoscopic ImageryPoint CloudsMeshesProgrammatically Generated ObjectsFour Dimensions (Video and Simulations)Motion PicturesCompressionImplicit CompressionAlgorithmic CompressionSimulationsSoundData RequirementsRecognizing AudioPulsars -- A "Standard Bell"Audio CompressionSets, Symbolic Networks, & Constructed LanguagesGenomic Information And ETAlgorithmic CommunicationBASIC for ETBoolean ArithmeticMath OperationsData OperationsMemory (Variables)Input / Output InterfacesInter-Program CommunicationInput/Output InterfacesComparison Operations and BranchingModularity and ReuseApplying These Concepts To An ET Programming LanguageLogic Gate NetworksThe Limits Of Computation, AI and Sentient MessagesLevel 0 : Static (Non-Interactive) InformationLevel 1 : Pre-Authored Algorithmic MessagesLevel 2 : Narrow AILevel 3 : General AI (Sentient Messages)Lessons From Animal Communication Research [work in progress]Information Theory and Language StructureAnimal Communication ResearchLimitations of Animal Communication as a SETI AnalogMesh Networks (The Galactic Internet)Analytic Tools & UtilitiesThe Interstellar Communication RelayTier 0 : Raw Data AccessTier 1 : Derived Signal DataTier 2 : Demodulated Data StreamsTier 3 : Structured Data ExtractionInitial Analysis and VisualizationLow Level Decoding and File/Object ExtractionMedia Extraction and ConversionN-Dimensional ModelsAlgorithmic Communication SystemsParsing Metadata, Semantic Networks, EtcGenomic InformationOther Data Types (Unknown Unknowns)SummaryFlow Diagram and Decision TreeRecommended Reading