The vastness of known space gives us hope that there is other intelligent life out there, perhaps even life like us, that feels and wonders and hurts and hopes and schemes and makes, possibly life like us that can be reached, somehow, probably not through travel, not physical travel, but maybe through means of a signal, one or more signals containing our image, our sounds, our reality.
A few years ago, I wrote a short tale, Love In The Time Of Caller ID, that considered this very idea. A man builds an app that lets us share our music, an app he hopes will go viral — viral because every time someone plays their music or shares their music, their phone sends out an extra signal, a signal song that floats into space and, yes, probably dissipates, but maybe not, maybe one survives and is heard.
An alien responds.
This has now been done for real:
Humanity’s first contact with aliens could be a breezy 24 years away. We sent a signal to an Earth-like planet that may host life – and we sent them a mixtape.
The project, called “Sónar Calling GJ 273b,” is a team effort led by the Sónar music festival in collaboration with METI (Messaging to Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) International and the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia in Spain.
They sent the message via radio waves and transmitted it 9 different times. This helps ensure that all the information reaches its destination
What’s in the message?
Thirty-three musical pieces, each 10 seconds long, a tutorial on how humans keep time, and when we will be listening for a response.
What might a life out there be like? Just one. What might they do?
Evolution creates more life and more diverse lifeforms and it’s magical but if it’s just a quirk of an empty universe, no God, no spirit, no higher calling, a big bang proceeded by bodies in motion, then, fine, maybe your life turns out exactly the same, maybe so does mine, but oh the lost joy of reverence and potential.
Is it really only us among all these empty spaces?
Twitter has announced it will remove verification badges from “verified users” should those users tweet something the company chooses not to sanction. This is their right, for now, but it’s also terrible business.
Let every user validate their identity. Discourse will improve, greatly, and no one can accuse — or sue — Twitter for using its verified user badges as a means of sanctioning words or supporting views. That Twitter refuses to do this strongly implies the company wants to sanction and, as you can’t have one without the other, wants to marginalize.
It gets worse.
Twitter says it will remove the verified badge of literally verified users should those users engage in thoughts or acts — outside of Twitter — which Twitter does not sanction.
The gist is this: if a user breaks Twitter’s rules on Twitter — that is to say, by tweeting — that user will still be disciplined in all the usual ways, a spokesperson said. What’s new is that Twitter now plans to do at least some monitoring of verified users’ offline behavior as well, to determine whether it is consistent with its rules. If it isn’t, users can lose their badges. And so a hypothetical verified user who tweeted nothing but pictures of kittens but organized Nazi rallies for a living could now retain his tweeting privileges, but lose his verification badge.
This is what China presently does — the nation that makes your iPhone.
They first verify who you are, connect your identity with your online account, then track you and punish you should you do anything, online or offline, not state approved.
We can only hope Twitter goes bankrupt for such searing incompetence and like-minded politics.
But what if it doesn’t?
What if the way of anti-democratic, anti-free China becomes the way of Twitter and that becomes the way of all the web?
It’s still an incredibly vast world out there, teeming with life, bursting with potential, and you, your words, your thoughts, your values, your actions will resonate and matter and just might even reach far farther than you ever thought possible. You don’t need another’s vehicle to carry your signal.