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Medical Anthropology Quarterly 06/2012; 26(2):292-8. DOI:10.2307/41682575
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ABSTRACT: Contemporary narratology (narrative theory) offers a useful framework for interpreting interstellar messages that have already been sent to potential extraterrestrial recipients, as well as for designing messages that may be transmitted in the future. In this paper, narratological concepts are used to analyze in depth a single interstellar message sequence, elucidating methods by which various parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs) can be paired with pictures to describe the human body in motion. The concept of focalization is applied to the message sequence's use of isolation and magnification, which highlight the structure and function of the human body and its constituent parts. The challenges of interpreting gaps within narratives, as well as the setting in which events occur, are considered. The importance of closure in providing a fitting end to narratives is examined, and the plausibility of creating images that could be interpreted correctly by extraterrestrial intelligence is assessed. Narratological concepts examined here, as well as additional aspects of narrative, provide important resources for future work in interpreting and designing interstellar messages.Acta Astronautica 02/2011; DOI:10.1016/j.actaastro.2009.12.009
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ABSTRACT: With recently growing interest in the Active Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), in which humankind would send intentional signals to extraterrestrial civilizations, there have been increased concerns about appropriate policy, as well as the role of space law and ethics in guiding such activities. Implicit in these discussions are notions of responsibility and capability that affect judgments about whether humans or other civilizations should initiate transmissions. Existing protocols that guide SETI research address transmissions from Earth, but there is debate over whether these guidelines should inform de novo transmissions as well. Relevant responsibilities to address include (1) looking out for the interests of humankind as a whole, (2) being truthful in interstellar messages, and (3) benefiting extraterrestrial civilizations. Our capabilities as a species and a civilization affect how well we can fulfill responsibilities, as seen when we consider whether we will be able to reach consensus about message contents (and whether that would be desirable), and whether we have the capacity to decode messages from beings that rely on different sensory modalities. The interplay of these responsibilities and capabilities suggests that humankind should place increased emphasis on Active SETI.Acta Astronautica 02/2011; 68(3-4-68):512-519. DOI:10.1016/j.actaastro.2010.01.008
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