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About the Invitation to ETI
Chief Scientist Allen Tough Answers Some Frequently Asked Questions

What is the aim of this project?

The initial aim is contact with extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI). But this is just an early step. We hope that this initial contact will lead to an ongoing scientific, educational, and philosophical dialogue between ETI and humanity.

Where can I read the rationale for the invitation?

It is spelled out in the Founder's biography web page and in his recent paper on How to achieve contact: Five promising strategies. It is also summarized in our Mission Statement.

What are the chances of success?

Issuing an invitation to ETI on the World Wide Web is a long shot, as is every SETI project. Our chances of detecting ETI are at least as good as those of any other project. If successful, though, our project could provide humanity with particularly high benefits because we aim to achieve a scientific, educational, and philosophical dialogue between humankind and ETI--not simply find evidence that ETI exists. Humanity could gain an extraordinary wealth of new insights from such a dialogue.

Are there any risks associated with issuing this Invitation?

Although no human activity is entirely without some risk, the dangers inherent in issuing our Invitation to ETI have been demonstrated to be negligible. Within the SETI Permanent Study Group of the International Academy of Astronautics, a new analytical tool is being developed to quantify certain elements of risk associated with transmitting interstellar messages from Earth. On that ordinal, integer San Marino Scale, this experiment rates a 2 (on a scale of 1 to 10), indicating that it represents a minimal exposure to any potential hazard associated with extraterrestrial contact.

Is the SETI field generally supportive of this project?

Yes, very supportive. Almost every SETI scientist now agrees that (a) any extraterrestrial technology we detect will be far older than ours and (b) it is quite feasible for an extraterrestrial probe to reach Earth. And, of course, more than 80 people from the SETI, Contact, and interstellar travel field have joined in issuing the invitation. The two main fears raised in the early days of the project have turned out to be groundless. Some people feared negative publicity from the media, but in fact almost all media attention so far has been quite positive. Some feared that we would foolishly succumb to hoaxes, but this has not happened, as you can see in the next question.

How many responses has the Invitation to ETI already received?

Approximately 60 have claimed to be from ETI. Although many of these messages seem sincere rather than deliberate pranks, none have yet come close to persuading us of their authenticity. In fact, only three have reached the stage of discussing possible tests or other evidence, and all three ceased to communicate soon afterwards. In fact, two of the three admitted their attempted hoax within a few days. A report of these three cases was written by Dr. Scarlett Wang. A report of a face-to-face vetting encounter was written by H. Paul Shuch and Allen Tough.

See also: Signatories' Questions

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The Invitation to ETI was founded by Prof. Allen Tough
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This page last updated 15 May 2011.
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