Oxford scientists have warned that Nasa's latest plan to beam Earth's location into outer space could accidentally provoke an alien invasion. A broadcast message, "Beacon in the Galaxy" is planned by the researchers at Nasa to address the aliens.
The message is believed to be the upgraded version of the Arecibo message, which is known for having sent the same information into space in 1974. The Nasa backed binary-coded message is said to incorporate basic physical and mathematical concepts along with data on the biochemical composition of life so as to establish a universal process of communication.
Information regarding the solar system's location, its digitized depictions, a part of the Milky way, the Earth's surface and mankind are also detailed in the message that ends with an invite for the extraterrestrials to respond.
Although Anders Sandberg, a senior research fellow at Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute (FHI), cautioned against sharing information of this kind which could pose a risk. As reported by The Daily Telegraph he said that, even though the possibility of the message successfully making contact with an alien civilization was low, 'it has such a high impact that you actually need to take it rather seriously'.
The 'giggle factor' surrounding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence implies that 'many people just refuse to take anything related to it seriously, which is a shame because this is important stuff', he later added. Given the challenges encountered while passing through the Metagalactic space Dr Sandberg believes that the message could amount to little more than 'a postcard saying, "Wish you were here".'
"The poor aliens might already be getting various messages sent for all sorts of reasons," said Dr Sandberg referring to the Arecibo message and a few other advertisements already sent into space by humans.
Dr Sandberg's colleague at the FHI, Toby Ord had similarly argued in his book, The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity, published in 2020 wherein as he detailed and analyzed the existential risks faced by humanity.
Dr Ord, suggests that a "public discussion" prior to taking such a big step is wise as "even passive SETI (listening for their messages) could hold dangers and the messages could be designed to entrap us." In general, he writes, "the main relevant question is the ratio of peaceful to hostile civilizations. We have very little evidence about whether this is high or low, and there is no scientific consensus. Given the downside could be much bigger than the upside, this doesn't sound to me like a good situation in which to take active steps towards contact."
The researchers at the US space agency have proposed for the message to be broadcasted from China's Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) and the SETI Institute's Allen Telescope Array in northern California. No announcement regarding an official date for the broadcast has been made.