Since the mid-20th century, scientists have been looking for evidence of intelligent life beyond our solar system. For much of that time, scientists who are engaged in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) have relied on radio astronomy surveys to search for signs of technological activity (aka "technosignatures"). With 4,375 exoplanets confirmed (and counting!) even greater efforts are expected to happen in the near future.
In anticipation of these efforts, researchers have been considering other possible technosignatures that we should be on the lookout for. According to Michael Hippke, a visiting scholar at the UC Berkeley SETI Research Center, the search should also be expanded to include quantum communication. In an age where quantum computing and related technologies are nearing fruition, it makes sense to look for signs of them elsewhere.
The search for technosignatures, and what constitutes the most promising ones, has been the subject of renewed interest in recent years. This is due in large part to the fact that thousands of exoplanets are available for follow-up studies using the next-generation telescopes that will be operational in the coming years. With these instruments searching for needles in the "cosmic haystack," astrobiologists need to have a clear of what to look for.
In September of 2018, NASA hosted a Technosignatures Workshop, which was followed by the release of their Technosignature Report. By August of 2020, NASA and the Blue Marble Institute sponsored another meeting—Technoclimes 2020—to discuss concepts for future searches that would look for technosignatures beyond the usual radio signals. As someone who has dedicated his professional life to SETI, Hippke has many insights to offer.
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