Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute is interviewed: FutureDude Visits Seth Shostak at the SETI Institute, Part 2 – FutureDude™.
But, how does it affect the world if we did find something? I think that depends. I mean, if you can actually find a message in that signal, and you can understand it, maybe you’re in touch with an intelligence beyond ours. So, then perhaps you could learn some really important stuff, man! Maybe we could get to those futures we never seem to get to. But, I don’t know if that would happen.
What I do think would happen for sure is that it would change the way we look at things—in the same way Copernicus changed the way people looked at things. Copernicus, 400 years ago says, “You know, Earth’s not the center of the cosmos.” He said the Sun was and he wasn’t right about that. But at least he moved the center away from the Earth.
But people still went to work, still got married, or worried about their incomes, doing their taxes, or whatever. But on the other hand, things really were changed. Philosophically they were different. I think if we discovered a signal, it would have a big impact.
Here is a SETI Institute video of a panel discussion led by Jill Tartar with Elisa Quintana, Tom Barclay, and Jason Rowe, who were among the authors of the paper on the discovery of the first earth-sized exoplanet in the habitable zone of its star. (Quintana is the lead author.) See post here and also Paper Announcing Kepler186f Available for Download 0 SETI Institute