What are we to aliens? Do they look out for extraterrestrial creatures like we do? How would they react if we suddenly made a way to appear in the skies from where they live? Would their reaction be worse if we sent them a computer virus, to make ourselves known to them?
British scientists are bothered that a computer virus might be sent as an accidental attack against outer space creatures possibly years and years - centuries or even millennia - more advanced than Earth.
Yuri Milner, Russian internet billionaire, has put up a one million dollar prize as part of a new investment in the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) which is known to be generally involved in looking out for signs of alien life, through the use of high-power radio telescopes, along with high-end computer software capable of scanning thousands of frequencies.
Astronomers, philosophers and academics are currently bidding for the million dollar prize for coming up with the best way to make ourselves known to aliens.
At the Oxford University, scientists highlight the importance of making sure we do not send offensive signals to extraterrestrials, by ensuring that digital messages are "streamed clean."
"There are complications about using a complicated language or syntax for sending a message," Dr. Anders Sandberg from Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute, and a UK SETI member emphasized, speaking at the University of Bradford at the British Science Festival.
According to Sandberg, sending out a language that is too complex can "hide an awful lot of weird stuff." It could become a huge problem if that happened, especially for the security of Earth's own computers. He added that sending a message out into space, which may contain hidden malware, might not really please the aliens.
While UK SETI has not yet decided how to compose its message to extraterrestrials, the mere thought of sending a message to alien life forms is a topic of debate. At a recent meeting, experts voted on whether or not to actually send out a message to aliens, and the group was split in halves. Those who voted against it contest that when a message is sent to unknown ET, it might actually be sent to an unintended recipient.
With the group split into two, there has not been a consensus yet as to whether or not a message needs to be sent to ET, in what way and with what content. While scientists await an actual decision, UK SETI has set up group of four men to work on alien messages.