"Most SETI scientists agree," points out Tough, "that any ETI we detect will likely be thousands or millions of years ahead of us (because our sun and our science are so young). Such an advanced society will likely have the capacity to build and launch cheap smart autonomous probes to explore the galaxy. Also, an advanced society will likely be motivated to send out exploratory probes. If such a probe were sent a few centuries ago to explore Earth, it will likely be here by now... I am betting that extraterrestrial intelligence, in one form or another, has already reached our solar system and will be confirmed first."
" I'm betting against my respected colleague Allen Tough," argues Shuch, "not because I think he's wrong about interstellar probes, but because we don't yet know how to detect them. It's a matter of instrumentation, and though we've gotten very good at intercepting electromagnetic waves, our record for detecting even nearby natural space debris is not too stellar (pun completely intentional)."
Shuch and Tough have each put up $200 US in a wager as to the nature of our first successful SETI contact. Prof. Tough has generously stated that if he wins his bet, the sums on deposit will be contributed to the nonprofit SETI League. In putting up money against him, Prof. Shuch has also designated that worthy grassroots organization as recipient of any funds, once the bet is settled. That way, this will be a no-lose bet!
The purpose of Long Bets is to improve longterm thinking. Long Bets is a public arena for enjoyably competitive predictions, of interest to society, with philanthropic money at stake. The Long Now Foundation furnishes the continuity to see even the longest bets through to public resolution. Their website provides a forum for discussion about what may be learned from the bets and their eventual outcomes.
Largely using radio telescopes and optical telescopes, SETI scientists seek to determine whether humankind is alone in the universe. Since Congress terminated NASA's SETI funding in 1993, The SETI League and other scientific groups have privatized the research. Amateur and professional scientists interested in participating in the search for intelligent alien life, and citizens wishing to help support it, should email join_at_setileague_dot_org, check the SETI League Web site at http://www.setileague.org/, send a fax to +1 (201) 641-1771, or contact The SETI League, Inc. membership hotline at +1 (800) TAU-SETI. Be sure to provide us with a postal address to which we will mail further information. The SETI League, Inc. is a membership-supported, non-profit [501(c)(3)], educational and scientific corporation dedicated to the scientific Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.
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this page last updated 15 March 2008
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