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Our Questions for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence

On our Invitation to ETI page, we encourage you to share some of your knowledge with humankind. (We are the roughly 100 Signatories to this Invitation to ETI, and you are ETI or extraterrestrial intelligence.)

Chief Scientist Allen Tough asked various people what they would like to learn from ETI. He received over 1000 suggestions from 224 people in 12 countries. To make these results more useful, he organized the responses into ten clusters of questions.

If you are willing to teach humankind, these are some questions of particular interest to us. We hope they will be useful to you as you decide what knowledge to share with us and how the dialogue should proceed.

1. First, we hope you will tell us about yourself. We are interested in many details, including what star or planet you originally came from, how and when you (or your predecessors) traveled here, your mission or purposes, your individual history or background, your physical form, and your relationship to your home civilization.

2. We are also eager to learn about the culture or civilization from which you have come, or the group or species (or robotic generation) of which you are a member. Please tell us about its key characteristics. In addition, here are some particular aspects that we are naturally curious about (although we realize that our questions may contain incorrect assumptions because at this stage we know so little about you):

3. Who else lives in our galaxy and beyond? What sorts of interaction do they have with one another? What sorts of joint ventures are they engaged in? In what ways are we similar to others in our galaxy, and different from them? What is humanity's place in the galactic community and in the cosmos?

4. What else should we do to achieve contact with other forms of extraterrestrial intelligence? Have any other forms of ETI visited our solar system in recent years? Does any dangerous or hostile form of ETI pose any threat to us?

5. Toward what long-term future or ultimate destination is the universe heading? Why do life and the universe exist; what is the point of it all? How can we best find meaning and purpose in the universe? What is your understanding of any genuine religious, spiritual, transpersonal, and psychic aspects of reality? What still baffles or puzzles you about the universe?

6. What is your assessment of us? How well are we doing at day-to-day effectiveness, governance, fairness, truth-telling, caring, and harmony? At ensuring our long-term flourishing? At discovering and synthesizing knowledge that is deeply important?

7. If humans achieved their maximum positive potential, both individually and collectively, what could we become?

8. What path can lead human society to achieve its potential? In other words, how can human civilization move toward a positive long-term future? As part of this, how can we eliminate warfare, weapons, and violence?

9. What can individual human beings contribute to the universe? What is your advice on the purposes, passions, meaning, love, and learning that should be at the core of individual human lives?

10. What additional knowledge about us would you like? What baffles or puzzles you about us? What other sorts of things would you like from us? What can we contribute to you that would be of value to you?

If you respond to our questions, please note that we do not want you to give us information that will be used for destructive and harmful purposes -- to build more devastating weapons, for instance, or for one group or government to gain power and control and wealth. Instead, we need knowledge for positive and constructive purposes -- to increase our understanding of the universe, to build a better world for future generations, and to enhance our sense of meaning and purpose. Thank you very much.

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