DAVID BRIN's world of ideas



by David Brin, Ph.D.

(Copyright © 2000)

We, the institutions and individuals participating in the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence,

Inspired by the profound significance for humankind of detecting evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence,

Recognizing that an initial detection may be incomplete and ambiguous and may require careful examination as well as confirmation, and that it is essential to maintain the highest standards of scientific responsibility and credibility,

Recalling that the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, commits States parties to that Treaty "to inform the Secretary General of the United Nations as well as the public and the international scientific community, to the greatest extent feasible and practicable, of the nature, conduct, locations and results" of their space exploration activities,

Convinced that a confirmed detection should be made known to all of humankind,

Agree to the following principles:

  1. Any individual, public or private research institution, or governmental agency that believes it has detected evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence (the discoverer) should seek to verify that the most plausible explanation for the evidence is the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence rather than some other natural phenomenon or anthropogenic phenomenon before making any public announcement. If the evidence cannot be confirmed as indicating the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence, the discoverer may disseminate this information as appropriate to the discovery of any unknown phenomenon.

  2. The discoverer should promptly inform other observers so that they may seek to confirm the discovery by independent observations at other sites, and so that continuous monitoring of the phenomenon may be made more feasible. While it is recognized that the discoverer or other observers may need to respond to questions from media personnel and other persons at an early stage, they should not initiate a public announcement of this discovery until it is determined whether this information is or is not credible evidence of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence.

  3. After concluding that the discovery is credible evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, the discoverer should disseminate this information promptly, openly, and widely to public media as well as through appropriate scientific networks, and should inform the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The discoverer should have the privilege of making the first announcement.

  4. All data necessary for the confirmation of the detection should be made available to the international scientific community through publications, meetings, conferences, and other appropriate means.

  5. The discovery should be monitored. Any data bearing on evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence should be recorded and stored permanently to the greatest extent feasible and practicable, in a form that will make it available to observers and to the scientific community for further analysis and interpretation.

  6. If the evidence of detection is in the form of electromagnetic signals, observers should seek international agreement to protect the appropriate frequencies by exercising the extraordinary procedures established within the World Administrative Radio Council of the International Telecommunication Union.

  7. No transmission in response to a signal or other evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence should be sent until appropriate international consultations have taken place. The procedures for such consultations should be the subject of a separate agreement, declaration, or arrangement.