Contact with Alien Civilizations: Our Hopes and Fears about Encountering Extraterrestrials / Edition 1

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This book describes a wide variety of speculations by many authors about the consequences for humanity of coming into contact with extraterrestrial intelligence. The assumptions underlying those speculations are examined, and some conclusions are drawn. The book emphasizes the consequences of contact rather than the search, and takes account of popular views. As necessary background, the book also includes brief summaries of the history of thinking about extraterrestrial intelligence, searches for life and for signals, contrasting paradigms of how contact might take place, and the paradox that those paradigms allegedly create.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
From the reviews:

"Will we find extraterrestrial intelligence - and should we want to? Such are the questions examined in Contact with Alien Civilizations. Michael A.G. Michaud, a space policy analyst and former diplomat, provides an engrossing overview of the probabilities, promises, and risks of encountering smart aliens. Drawing heavily on the scientific and scholarly literature (he apologizes for not thoroughly discussing science fiction), Michaud's approach is to compile diverse expert opinions on alien-related topics and relentlessly scrutinize premises about what the extraterrestrials would be like. His analysis suggests that contact is a serious - and not necessarily pleasant - possibility....
Space exploration, Michaud suggests persuasively, is a way of spreading humanity's bets amid the current uncertainty as to who else might be out there. If intelligent extraterrestrials are detected, then being a spacefaring civilization will place us in a stronger position to deal with them, whether cooperatively or not. And if no contact occurs, then expanding beyond Earth could help ensure the survival of at least one civilization -our own- in a universe where civilized life is rare and hard to find."
(Kenneth Silber, The Space Review, Monday, July 9, 2007)

"Michaud deals with what may happen when we finally come face to face with beings from distant worlds. … A tremendous amount of research has gone into this book, and the extensive reference lists are by far the best that I have seen covering this topic. … there is no doubt that the reference lists alone make the book essential to anyone setting out to make a serious study of possible intelligent life elsewhere in the cosmos." (Patrick Moore, BBC Sky at Night, April, 2007)

"This wide-ranging book … looks into the possibility of contact with ET, examines the implications of SETI from all conceivable angles: scientific, philosophical and cultural. … this book is a remarkably uplifting one in the context of the possibilities it describes and the potential for the human race. Upon reading this superb book, easily the best on the subject that I have come across, what conclusions will you draw from it?" (Keith Cooper, Astronomy Now, 2007)

"Michael Michaud’s Contact with Alien Civilizations is a well-informed, impressively researched presentation of an often fantastical subject. … I’d recommend this book as ideal for anyone interested in a broad … detailed view of a thought-provoking subject." (De Witt Douglas Kilgore, Space Times, July/August, 2007)

"Michaud points to the limits of our technology as well as to SETI searches limited in their coverage. … He highlights the complexities, difficulties, and disappointments that go with trying to establish a code of conduct for the legal aspects of encountering aliens. … This is a timely book; there is not a dull word in it. Recommended." (P. Chapman-Rietschi, The Observatory, Vol. 127 (1200), October, 2007)

"Michaud explores the possibility of intelligent extraterrestrial life and whether humanity should actively pursue or not. … A mind opener to the possibility of extraterrestrial life, beneficial to any reader. Well written and organized; extensive bibliography. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates." (A. Gider, CHOICE, Vol. 44 (11), July, 2007)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780387285986
  • Publisher: Springer New York
  • Publication date: 11/14/2006
  • Edition description: 2007
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 466
  • Sales rank: 1,550,111
  • Product dimensions: 9.21 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Michaud served as Director of the U.S. State Department's Office of Advanced Technology and as Counselor for Science, Technology, and Environment at the American embassies in Paris and Tokyo. He led the negotiation of international agreements, played an active role in reviving U.S.-Soviet space cooperation, represented foreign policy interests in interagency discussions of U.S. space policy, and testified before Congress on space-related issues. He has published thirty articles and papers on the implications of contact, as well as sixty articles on other subjects and the book, Reaching for the High Frontier: The American Pro-Space Movement, 1972-1984.

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Table of Contents

Introduction.- A Belief in Other Minds.- Searching for Signals.- Probabilities.- The Visit Scenario.- The Paradox.- Foreseen Consequences.- Some Assumptions Examined.- What is Missing.- Some Conclusions Drawn.- Annex: Preparing.- References.- Bibliographic Essay.

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