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Metalaw and SETI

Metalaw, Lawyers, and the Giggle Factor

17 Dec 2010, 04:46 UTC
Metalaw, Lawyers, and the Giggle Factor
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Back in 2004, radio astronomer Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute predicted that, if intelligent life existed elsewhere in our Milky Way galaxy, we would probably detect radio or other transmissions from such a civilization within 20 years, or by the middle of the 2020s. That prediction was back in the news last week when this story ran about the rapidly accumulating scientific evidence for extraterrestrial life. We're not there yet, but practically every month brings word of some new discovery that supports the Copernican suspicion that life on Earth -- perhaps even intelligent life -- is not some one-off freak accident but rather a relatively common phenomenon in our vast universe.I also recently read this excellent 2005 paper by social psychologist Albert Harrison, now a professor emeritus at UC Davis, discussing the occupational hazards that social scientists and others face when wading into the scientific study of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. As the pace of discovery accelerates and the evidence accumulates, representatives of one field of human social endeavor, in particular, are conspicuously absent: Lawyers.Unfortunately, you can count on one hand the number of lawyers who have published or presented papers on the subject of Metalaw in the ...

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