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Oh, if I could talk to the aliens

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In Steven Spielberg’s 1977 film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” extraterrestrials communicate with humans through a catchy five-note sequence. In Spielberg’s 1982 blockbuster “E.T.,” a diminutive alien learns basic English from a children’s TV show. More recently, in 2016’s “Arrival,” squid-like visitors use pictograms to make themselves understood to American scientists wielding whiteboards with words.

But what would really happen if we made direct contact with an alien species? How would we recognize or interpret their intelligence, and what would we say? Those were just some of the questions discussed during a wide-ranging conversation Monday afternoon sponsored by Harvard’s Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative and moderated by Edward J. Hall, Norman E. Vuilleumier Professor of Philosophy.

Using “Arrival” as a springboard, panelists Jesse Snedeker, a professor of psychology and expert in language comprehension, and Avi Loeb, an astrophysicist and author of “Extraterrestrial: The First Signs of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth” (2021), examined the potential challenges we might face.

Source link The Harvard


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