Is anybody out there? The detection of intelligent and generic language-like features

John Elliott*, Eric Atwell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The authors present an overview of their language-detection research to date, along with considerations for further research. The research focuses on the unique structure of communication, seeking to identify whether a given signal has features within it that display intelligence or language-like characteristics, and comparing this with current methods used in searches for extra-terrestrial intelligence, in particular the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute's Project Phoenix. Project Phoenix looks for signals within a pre-defined bandwidth, on the basis that if they occur it would indicate a source of intelligence outside our own. In this active research area, the reported research looks beyond this for patterns in a signal which should indicate if intelligence is present by applying formulated algorithms and using tailor-made software which will sense if similar structures exist. The objective is therefore to investigate algorithms that will accomplish this goal. The research reported concentrates on ascertaining whether inter-species communication displays generic attributes that distinguish it from other sources, such as music and white noise. First contact may come from eavesdropping on radio broadcasts of their own natural language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-22
Number of pages10
JournalJBIS - Journal of the British Interplanetary Society
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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