Paper Competition Third Place Winner
Policy Memo: Anticipatory Science Diplomacy as a Governance and Cooperation Mechanism for the Search for Extraterrestrial Life
Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Law, School of Applied Mathematical and Physical Sciences, National Technical University of Athens, Athens, Greece
Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keywords: search for extraterrestrial life; anticipatory diplomacy; science diplomacy; emerging space actors
The scientific search for extraterrestrial life mainly consists of looking for evidence of current and past microbial life and intelligent, technology-capable life. The space industry appears to have entered an era of “NewSpace” activities that are no longer conducted exclusively by the traditional state space powers. Instead, emerging space actors, both public and private, have commenced searches for extraterrestrial life. The likelihood of successfully discovering extraterrestrial life only increases when considering an unintentional discovery resulting from the various other space-related activities pursued by NewSpace actors. Unfortunately, the relevant policy landscape is plagued with significant gaps. Anticipatory diplomacy, that is, a model for diplomacy that seeks to act today to address the challenges of the future, might be appropriate for governing those science-related global activities and for encouraging cooperation among varying actors. This policy memo offers the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) suggestions on how to practically implement anticipatory diplomacy in the scientific endeavor of the search for extraterrestrial life by means of four proactive policies: harmonization of pre-discovery measures in national space laws, encouragement of international R&D partnerships among public and private actors, a public registry of activities with the potential to detect extraterrestrial life, and an appropriate interdisciplinary UNCOPUOS Working Group. The overall recommendation is to start with establishing the proposed UNCOPUOS Working Group and then to task it with evaluating if and how to implement the other three proactive policies.
-Read the full article through download.-
Background header image courtesy of SomeDriftwood
George Profitiliotis is an Electrical & Computer Engineer with an interdisciplinary MSc in “Environment and Development” offered by the National Technical University of Athens. He holds a Ph.D. from the NTUA on the topic of the ex ante economic valuation of future national Planetary Protection policies for private activities between Earth and Mars. He is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher within the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Law of the NTUA, investigating the pertinence of anticipation to the search for extraterrestrial life, and a Visiting Scholar at the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science.
I would like to acknowledge the important and helpful comments of the three reviewers that greatly enhanced the quality of this work.
- Arfini, S., T. Bertolotti, and L. Magnani. "The antinomies of serendipity: how to cognitively frame serendipity for scientific discoveries." Topoi 39, no. 4 (2020): 939-948. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11245-018-9571-3
- Bilder, R. B. "On the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)." American Journal of International Law 114, no. 1 (2020): 87-95. https://doi.org/10.1017/ajil.2019.86.
- Breakthrough Initiatives. Breakthrough Listen. 2022. https://breakthroughinitiatives.org/initiative/1.
- CNSA. China's Space Program: A 2021 Perspective. 2022. http://www.cnsa.gov.cn/english/n6465652/n6465653/c6813088/content.html.
- COSPAR. COSPAR Policy on Planetary Protection. Paris, France: COSPAR, 2021. https://cosparhq.cnes.fr/assets/uploads/2020/07/PPPolicyJune-2020_Final_Web.pdf.
- Dick, S. J. "Discovery." In Astrobiology, discovery, and societal impact, 37-64. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108556941.
- Frick, A., R. Mogul, P. Stabekis, C. A. Conley, and P. Ehrenfreund. "Overview of current capabilities and research and technology developments for planetary protection." Advances in Space Research, 2014: 221-240. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asr.2014.02.016.
- Gertz, J. "Post-Detection SETI Protocols & METI: The Time Has Come To Regulate Them Both." Journal of the British Interplanetary Society 69 (2016): 263-270. https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.1701.08422.
- GESDA. Anticipatory Science Diplomacy in Practice: Examples of International Organisations. 2022. https://radar.gesda.global/opportunities/anticipatory-science-diplomacy-in-practice.
- Hiltunen, E. "Was it a wild card or just our blindness to gradual change." Journal of Futures Studies 11, no. 2 (2006): 61-74.
- Lingam, M., and A. Loeb. "Preface." In Life in the Cosmos: From Biosignatures to Technosignatures, xi-xviii. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2021. https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674987579.
- McGee, B. W. "A call for proactive xenoarchaeological guidelines – Scientific, policy and socio-political considerations." Space Policy 26, no. 4 (2010): 209-213. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spacepol.2010.08.003.
- NBC News. First private mission to Venus could open new avenues for space exploration. 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/first-private-mission-venus-open-new-avenues-space-exploration-rcna14207.
- Pearson, W. R. Anticipatory Diplomacy: A Modern Diplomacy for a Dangerous and Uncertain World. 2022. https://igs.duke.edu/news/anticipatory-diplomacy-modern-diplomacy-dangerous-and-uncertain-world.
- Profitiliotis, G. "Measuring the economic benefits of a national planetary protection policy to regulate future private space activities between Earth and Mars: Results of a contingent valuation survey in Greece." Advances in Space Research 67, no. 12 (2021a): 4158-4176. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asr.2021.02.034.
- —."Private Space Activities and Solar System Technosignatures: Anticipating a Potential Wild Card Event." The 2021 Assembly of the Order of the Octopus, A Virtual Conference for early-career researchers in SETI, 29-30 July 2021. Online, 2021b. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.5145138
- —. "The Case for Stimulating a Planetary Protection Framework for Emerging Private Space Activities." Journal of Science Policy & Governance 16, no. 2 (2020): 1-7. https://doi.org/10.38126/JSPG160206.
- Science & Diplomacy. Anticipatory Science Diplomacy: An interview with Ambassador Pitteloud. 2021. https://www.sciencediplomacy.org/conversation/2021/anticipatory-science-diplomacy-interview-ambassador-pitteloud.
- SETI Institute. Protocols for an ETI Signal Detection. 2018. https://www.seti.org/protocols-eti-signal-detection.
- The Galileo Project. The Galileo Project: Daring to Look Through New Telescopes. 2022. https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/galileo.
- United Nations. Our Common Agenda – Report of the Secretary-General. New York, NY : United Nations Publications, 2021. https://www.un.org/en/content/common-agenda-report/assets/pdf/Common_Agenda_Report_English.pdf
- UNOOSA. Outer Space Treaty. 1967. https://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/spacelaw/treaties/outerspacetreaty.html.
- Vernile, A. The Rise of Private Actors in the Space Sector. Vienna, Austria: European Space Policy Institute, 2018. https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-319-73802-4.
- World Economic Forum. WEF Global Risks 2013: Eighth Edition. Cologny/Geneva, Switzerland: World Economic Forum, 2013. https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GlobalRisks_Report_2013.pdf.
- Wright, J. T. "Strategies and advice for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence." Acta Astronautica 188 (2021): 203-214. https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2107.07283.
- Zhang, Z. S., et al. "First SETI observations with China’s five-hundred-meter aperture spherical radio telescope (FAST)." The Astrophysical Journal 891, no. 2 (2020): 174. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4357/ab7376.
DISCLAIMER: The findings and conclusions published herein are solely attributed to the author and not necessarily endorsed or adopted by the Journal of Science Policy and Governance. Articles are distributed in compliance with copyright and trademark agreements.