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California Institute of Integral Studies is a private institution of higher education founded in 1968 and based in San Francisco, California. It currently operates in two locations just south of the Civic Center district. CIIS has a total of 1,400 students and 72 core faculty members.The Institute consists of three schools: the School of Professional Psychology & Health, the School of Consciousness and Transformation , and the School of Undergraduate Studies. Many courses combine mainstream academic curriculum with a spiritual orientation, including influences from a broad spectrum of mystical or esoteric traditions. Although the Institute has no official spiritual path, some of its historical roots lie among followers of the Bengali sage Sri Aurobindo. Wikipedia.


Vakoch D.A.,California Institute of Integral Studies | Vakoch D.A.,Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute
Acta Astronautica | Year: 2011

Contemporary narratology (narrative theory) offers a useful framework for interpreting interstellar messages that have already been sent to potential extraterrestrial recipients, as well as for designing messages that may be transmitted in the future. In this paper, narratological concepts are used to analyze in depth a single interstellar message sequence, elucidating methods by which various parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs) can be paired with pictures to describe the human body in motion. The concept of focalization is applied to the message sequence's use of isolation and magnification, which highlight the structure and function of the human body and its constituent parts. The challenges of interpreting gaps within narratives, as well as the setting in which events occur, are considered. The importance of closure in providing a fitting end to narratives is examined, and the plausibility of creating images that could be interpreted correctly by extraterrestrial intelligence is assessed. Narratological concepts examined here, as well as additional aspects of narrative, provide important resources for future work in interpreting and designing interstellar messages. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Vakoch D.A.,California Institute of Integral Studies | Vakoch D.A.,Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute
Acta Astronautica | Year: 2011

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) typically presupposes contact with extraterrestrial civilizations much longer lived than humanity. Many have argued that given humanity's "youth," the burden of transmitting should be placed on the extraterrestrial civilizations, which presumably possess more advanced technologies. These assumptions have contributed to the current emphasis on Passive SETI. Complementing this existing stress on Passive SETI with an additional commitment to Active SETI, in which humankind transmits messages to other civilizations, would have several advantages, including (1) addressing the reality that regardless of whether older civilizations should be transmitting, they may not be transmitting; (2) placing the burden of decoding and interpreting messages on advanced extraterrestrials, which may facilitate mutual comprehension; and (3) signaling a move toward an intergenerational model of science with a long-term vision for benefiting other civilizations as well as future generations of humans. Technological requirements for Active SETI are considered, and a case is made for Active SETI as a means for experimentally testing variants of the Zoo Hypothesis. Recommendations are provided for sustaining Passive and Active SETI and the communities that conduct these searches. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


Vakoch D.A.,California Institute of Integral Studies | Vakoch D.A.,Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute
Acta Astronautica | Year: 2011

Throughout the history of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), there has been widespread recognition of the profound societal implications of detecting intelligence beyond Earth. At the SETI Institute, interstellar message construction serves as the focus of a multidisciplinary attempt to prepare for the cultural impact of signal detection and the critical events that would follow. Interstellar message construction at the SETI Institute builds upon the recommendations of the 19911992 Workshops on the Cultural Aspects of SETI, while also exploring opportunities for multidisciplinary contributions on new topics. Through a series of international workshops in Toulouse, Paris, Zagreb, Washington, and Bremen, the SETI Institute and partner organizations have fostered broad-based discussion about some of the most important decisions that would follow detection of extraterrestrial intelligence, including "should we reply?" and if so, "what should we say, and how might we say it?". Several of the themes addressed at these workshops will be highlighted, including the relationship between art and science in designing messages, the value of interactive messages, and the importance of better understanding the nature of language. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


Vakoch D.A.,California Institute of Integral Studies | Vakoch D.A.,Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute
Acta Astronautica | Year: 2011

With recently growing interest in the Active Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), in which humankind would send intentional signals to extraterrestrial civilizations, there have been increased concerns about appropriate policy, as well as the role of space law and ethics in guiding such activities. Implicit in these discussions are notions of responsibility and capability that affect judgments about whether humans or other civilizations should initiate transmissions. Existing protocols that guide SETI research address transmissions from Earth, but there is debate over whether these guidelines should inform de novo transmissions as well. Relevant responsibilities to address include (1) looking out for the interests of humankind as a whole, (2) being truthful in interstellar messages, and (3) benefiting extraterrestrial civilizations. Our capabilities as a species and a civilization affect how well we can fulfill responsibilities, as seen when we consider whether we will be able to reach consensus about message contents (and whether that would be desirable), and whether we have the capacity to decode messages from beings that rely on different sensory modalities. The interplay of these responsibilities and capabilities suggests that humankind should place increased emphasis on Active SETI. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.


Vakoch D.A.,California Institute of Integral Studies | Vakoch D.A.,Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute
Acta Astronautica | Year: 2011

Previous discussions of interstellar messages that could be sent to extraterrestrial intelligence have focused on descriptions of mathematics, science, and aspects of human culture and civilization. Although some of these depictions of humanity have implicitly referred to our aspirations, this has not clearly been separated from descriptions of our actions and attitudes as they are. In this paper, a methodology is developed for constructing interstellar messages that convey information about our aspirations by developing a taxonomy of maxims that provide guidance for living. Sixty-six maxims providing guidance for living were judged for degree of similarity to each of other. Quantitative measures of the degree of similarity between all pairs of maxims were derived by aggregating similarity judgments across individual participants. These composite similarity ratings were subjected to a cluster analysis, which yielded a taxonomy that highlights perceived interrelationships between individual maxims and that identifies major classes of maxims. Such maxims can be encoded in interstellar messages through three-dimensional animation sequences conveying narratives that highlight interactions between individuals. In addition, verbal descriptions of these interactions in Basic English can be combined with these pictorial sequences to increase intelligibility. Online projects to collect messages such as the SETI Institute's Earth Speaks and La Tierra Habla, can be used to solicit maxims from participants around the world. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

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