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Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology$
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Kelly C. Smith and Carlos Mariscal

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190915650

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190915650.001.0001

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Ethics, Risk, and Alien Contact

(p.209) 13 METI or REGRETTI
Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology

Kelly C. Smith

Oxford University Press

This chapter assesses the ethical justification for attempting to message extraterrestrial intelligence (METI). Most of the discussion within the space community concerning METI has been about the level of risk it poses. Addressing the empirical dimensions of METI risk is a useful exercise, to be sure, but it is often unappreciated that these details just do not resolve key questions. In particular, if one looks at METI through an ethical lens, the central question is not what the level of risk is but whether those who are exposed to that risk agree to it. Rather than simply allowing anyone with access to the necessary resources do whatever they wish, people need to involve public policy, social science, humanities, and other fields of expertise to develop explicit best practices and then work to enshrine these in soft law.

Keywords:   messaging extraterrestrial intelligence, space community, space scientists, METI risk, ethics, public policy, social science, humanities, soft law

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