Andrew Fraknoi, a board member of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence in Mountain View
Stargazing scientists have recently begun to focus on the prospect of encountering intelligent extraterrestrials, and the more they think about it the more they realize the first meeting probably won’t be with little green men in flying saucers.
What aliens might look like is a growing question among astrobiologists, who are increasingly conjuring up creatures more Lilliputian than mega-brained or reptilian.
“The intriguing possibility is they are, in fact, here, but we just don’t know it,” said Andrew Fraknoi, the emeritus chairman of the astronomy department at Foothill College who recently taught a course on aliens at the University of San Francisco’s Fromm Institute and believes space aliens could very well be microscopic or unrecognizable as a life-form.
Fraknoi is on the board of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, known as the SETI Institute, based in Mountain View, where questions about alien civilizations are often discussed. He has long speculated that members of a civilization billions of years old might by now have evolved into a mechanical-biological mix, like a robot with a brain, capable of living for thousands of years as they travel through space.
But it is also possible, he said, that advanced civilizations would have sent into space thousands of tiny canisters holding the germs of life programmed to incubate and grow when they encounter suitable conditions around a star.
“In all the mathematical models, a species that started early in the history of the galaxy and had the will and resources to diffuse could by now have filled many parts of the galaxy with its artifacts or biological spores,” Fraknoi said.
Could the man from the High Plains be right? Could computers become more autonomous because they have been programmed to play chess? Before laughing consider this article that appeared on the Defense One website yesterday, October 8, 2013, “Why America Wants Drones That Can Kill Without Humans.” http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2013/10/ready-lethal-autonomous-robot-drones/71492/ This a day after I published the comments of Mr. Vest concerning the possibility of computers “…becoming sentient entities.”
The article begins, “Scientists, engineers and policymakers are all figuring out ways drones can be used better and more smartly, more precise and less damaging to civilians, with longer range and better staying power. One method under development is by increasing autonomy on the drone itself.
Eventually, drones may have the technical ability to make even lethal decisions autonomously: to respond to a programmed set of inputs, select a target and fire their weapons without a human reviewing or checking the result. Yet the idea of the U.S. military deploying a lethal autonomous robot, or LAR, is sparking controversy. Though autonomy might address some of the current downsides of how drones are used, they introduce new downsides policymakers are only just learning to grapple with.”
You better believe that if DARPA realized chess could be utilized for such nefarious purposes, it would not hesitate in so doing. As a matter of fact, if the Men in Black read this, it is possible chess has seen the last of the High Plains Drifter. There will be some kind of cover story while the HPD is placed in the bowels of some secret government location, so secret even most in government have never heard of it-so secret there are not even any rumors of it-where he will be wired to the collective while they extract any and everything in his brain, for the good of mankind, naturally.