'Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence' Needs a New Name, SETI Pioneer Says

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Astrophysicist Jill Tarter is one of the world's best-known leaders in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI. For 35 years, she served as the director of the Center for SETI Research (part of the SETI institute) and was also the project scientist for NASA's SETI program, before its cancellation in 1993. Despite her longtime association with that four-letter acronym, Tarter says it's time for "SETI" to be rebranded. At a recent meeting of the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Astrobiology Science Strategy for the Search for Life in the Universe, held here at the University of California, Irvine, Tarter explained that the phrase "search for extraterrestrial intelligence" generates an incorrect perception of what scientists in this field are actually doing. A more appropriate title for the field, she said, would be "the search for technosignatures," or signs of technology created by intelligent alien civilizations. "We need to be very careful about our language," Tarter said during a presentation at the committee meeting on Jan. 18. "SETI is not the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. We can't define intelligence, and we sure as hell don't know how to detect it remotely. … is searching for evidence of someone else's technology. We use technology as a proxy for intelligence. " 'SETI' has been problematic in history, and we should just drop and just continue to talk about a search for technosignatures," she said.

Read More: Space.com


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