The task: to create a digital missive that represents human civilisation.
You might think that the composition is pointless if it is never used. Well, maybe.
The researchers entering the Breakthrough Message contest, will compete for a $1m prize accompanied by a further effort to accelerate the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.
And here's the rub: Experts say it might not be wise to broadcast into space. Trying to contact aliens raises myriad concerns about what happens when cultures collide.
UK Seti Research Network members will thrash out the basics of how their message might be composed and what it might contain. For example, using pictures, or using more abstract content such as language or mathematics.
Whoever wins the prize, Breakthrough Initiatives have pledged not to transmit the message until they have discussed the risks and rewards. Source: BBC.
But, just what would we want to say to beings from another planet? Tell them about all we have achieved? If they're watching, they probably know. Offer peace? How could that be upheld? Crazy people are intent on fighting, and destroying life and property, all over the world at the moment.
Or maybe the research team just want to reach out.
If I could send a message, I'd say, “Steer clear until we sort out our inequalities and hostilities.”
What would you like to convey to aliens?