The Global Catastrophic Risks

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A. Turchin (2018), JBIS, 71, pp.71-79

Refcode: 2018.71.71
Keywords: SETI, METI, Existential Risk, Artificial Intelligence, Radio Transmission, Extraterrestrial Intelligence

This paper examines the risks associated with the program of passive searching for alien signals known as the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI. It raises the possibility of receiving an alien transmission that includes a description of an AI system aimed at self-replication (SETI-attack). A scenario of potential vulnerability is proposed, as well as reasons why the proportion of dangerous to harmless signals may be high. The paper identifies the necessary conditions for the feasibility and effectiveness of a SETI-attack: ETI existence, possibility of AI, small size of the “Seed” AI, low speed of physical interstellar travel, and large distances between civilizations. Necessary additions to the SETI protocol are considered: keep the signal's existence, content and source location secret; don’t run alien programs; jam dangerous signals; wait until humanity creates its own AI. In addition, scenarios in which it may be reasonable to activate an alien AI (if it has been downloaded) are explored.

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