Tag Archive: SETI



The beginning of my translation of, Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication 2, by Richard Saint-Gelais, Université Laval, Québec, Québec  

Before I get to the beginning of my translation of Richard Saint-Gelais' astonishing article on the practical and theoretical application of Mycenaean Linear B (I kid you not!) to interstellar communication between ourselves and other intelligent extraterrestrial beings, allow me to point out that the notion is not so far-fetched as it might seem at first sight. Certainly, it is not in the same “category” as Ufology or Ufologists chasing kooky dreams in “Area 51”. In fact, NASA itself sponsored this brilliant and insightful investigation which Prof. Sain-Gelais recently undertook under the auspices of NASA.

So this is serious business.. . which is why I am translating it in the first place. But I intend to take the project even further than that. Not only am I translating Prof. Saint-Gelais' in depth study, but I intend to follow my translation and his subsequent original text in French with a lengthy commentary on the feasibility of such interstellar communication, however remote. And remote it is. It is likely that I will need at least another month even to effect the translation, let alone to write the article, which I shall eventually be posting on my academia.edu account. Hopefully, I can then submit it to a scientific journal such as Science

Science

or Astronomy 

astronomy

Only time will tell. But I am quite sure some scientific publication will certainly be interested in this highly original research I have to offer. 

My translation: introduction:

Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication 2

Chapter 5: Semiotic Outlook on SETI

As everyone knows, communication is a sensitive human venture. So there are reasons to doubt that this would be an easy thing to carry off across the universe. In this essay, I shall endeavour to explain a set of theoretical problems which might beset communication between us and extraterrestrial intelligent beings. I shall also attempt to map out the primary difficulties which we may encounter when we come face to face with the phenomenon (or to be more precise the hypothesis) underlying communication, by all appearances, with beings so profoundly unlike ourselves. Such difficulties are often articulated in epistemological terms or of sensorial incompatibility between interstellar beings belonging to such dissimilar species and cultural milieus communicating with one another that that grounds for mutual understanding proper to such communication will very likely be extremely weak. We are not even aware whether or not extraterrestrial beings are likely to perceive and conceive of their own reality in any way similar to the way we do, or if they are subject to the same sorts of cognitive categories as ours, or even if they are able to communicate by sight or sound.

infinite-improbability-drive

Right off the top, I have to say that my position runs along the lines of epistemological skepticism as I have just outlined it. Still, my point of view differs somewhat, without however being incompatible with the epistemological approach. I intend to apply semiotic theories and methodologies to the problem of interstellar communication, all the while placing an emphasis on signs, language, meaning and interpretation. An easy but simplistic approach to the conception of such communication as this can be defined in terms of synchronization of a message received with its prior transmission, with message decoding at target pursuant to its coding at source, in the sense of meaning conveyed through the medium of the message itself considered as vehicle for its own context (Marshall McLuhan, The medium is the message). Still, understanding a message does not necessarily mean extracting something actually present in its own signs. On the contrary, it is implied that such signs can effectively integrated in an interpretational framework allowing the being targeted to confer meaning on them, in the sense that he or she can profit from elaborating on them, rather than extracting them from the source. For instance, let's take the example of a very basic repetitive sign consisting of two equilateral triangles with their bases flush, all the while pointing in opposite directions, one to the left and the other to the right. Occasionally, these two triangles are separated by a vertical line. A experiments re-writing “this” sign on a blackboard conducted with first year students have repeatedly shown me, they are met with looks of astonishment until I can provide them with a hint along the lines of, “Suppose that this is something you have spotted in an elevator”, by furnishing them with a context for interpretation allowing them to recognize the triangles as a conventional symbol opening up portals.

By Richard Saint-Gelais, Université Laval, Québec, Québec 

 
Archéologie, Anthropologie et Communication Interstellaire 2

Introduction:

Chapitre 5: Perspectives sémiotiques sur SETI

SETI@home Multi-Beam

La Communication, comme nous le savons tous, est une entreprise délicate entre les êtres humains. Donc, il y a des raisons de douter que ce serait une chose facile à travers l'univers. Dans cet essai, je vais essayer de décrire un ensemble de problèmes théoriques qui pourraient affecter la communication avec des intelligences extraterrestres. Je vais aussi essayer de cartographier les principales difficultés qui se posent lorsque l'on regarde le phénomène (ou plus exactement l'hypothèse) de communication entre ce qui sera, selon toute vraisemblance, des espèces profondément différentes. Ces difficultés sont souvent exprimées en termes d'épistémique et d'incompatibilité sensorielle entre des interlocuteurs interstellaires qui appartiennent à des espèces et des cultures si différentes que le terrain d'entente nécessaire à la communication pourrait être vraiment très faible. Nous ne savons pas si les extraterrestres vont percevoir et concevoir leur réalité de façon similaire à la nôtre, en utilisant les mêmes catégories cognitives, ou même si ils vont communiquer par les voies visuelles et acoustiques.

NASA

Je dois dire d'emblée que ma position est similaire au scepticisme épistémique que je viens de mentionner. Mais mon point de vue sera légèrement différent de ça, mais pas incompatible avec la perspective épistémique. Je vais appliquer les théories et les méthodes d'analyses sémiotiques au problème de la communication interstellaire, en mettant l'accent sur ??les signes, le langage, le sens et l'interprétation. Une facile mais simpliste conception de la communication se définit comme la production d'une émission suivie d'une phase de réception, un codage puis un décodage d'un sens donné à travers un message qui est considéré comme un véhicule pour ce contenu. Mais la compréhension d'un message n'est pas d'extraire quelque chose de physiquement présent dans les signes. Elle implique, au contraire, l'intégration de ces signes dans un cadre d'interprétation qui permet au destinataire de leur donner des significations, un sens que le bénéficiaire doit élaborer, pas extraire. Prenez, par exemple, un signe très simple et fréquent qui consiste en deux triangles équilatéraux placés la base à la base et pointant dans des directions opposées, l'une à gauche, l'autre à droite; Ces deux triangles sont parfois séparés par une ligne verticale. Comme des expériences répétées avec les étudiants de premier cycle me l'ont montré, une reproduction de ce signe sur le tableau noir ne rencontre que perplexité jusqu'à ce que je leur offre l'indice "suppose que c'est quelque chose que vous voyez dans un ascenseur", fournissant une interprétation du contexte, qui leur permet de reconnaître les triangles comme le symbole conventionnel pour ouvrir les portes.

Par Richard Saint-Gelais, Université Laval, Québec, Québec 


When SETI showed us this amazing photo from space, I could not resist defining it in ancient Greek & Linear B + this fractal, also in French!

Image shown to us by SETI on Twitter:

pareidolia

What it means in ancient Greek and in Mycenaean Linear B:

TEXTpareidolia
What can you see (or not) in the image they posted?

Oh and what about this? What is it a fractal of?

string theory
If you can read Greek, Mycenaean Linear B or French, you will know; otherwise you will have to guess.

Let me know what you think it means & I will tell you if you are right. 

Richard


Astounding Discovery! NASA: Interstellar Communication & Linear B Part 2: The Geometric Economy of Linear B. This is a Mind-Blower!

For the original article by Richard Saint-Gelais, click here:

NASA
Before I even begin to address the possibilities of interstellar communication based on the fundamental properties of the Linear B script, I would like to refer you to a sequential series of very early posts on our Blog, in which I formulated the basic thesis that, in fact, the Linear B script for Mycenaean Greek is based on the fundamental principle of Geometric Economy, a highly unusual, if not outright exceptional characteristic of the Linear B central construct of a syllabary+logography+ideography:

linearbgeometriceconomy 2014

And moving onto Numerics:

1-10-100-113 2014
Extended Set: Linear & Circular:

allgeometricbasic 2014
Application of the Extended Set to Linear B Syllabograms and Supersyllabograms: Click to ENLARGE

Rectangular Syllabograms in Linear B

Note that, even though Michael Ventris and Prof. John Chadwick, his intimate colleague & mentor, successfully deciphered some 90% of the Mycenaean Linear B syllabary, neither was aware of the existence of Supersyllabograms, of which there at least 30, all of them a subset of the basic set of Linear B syllabograms. Moreover, even though I myself hit upon the hypothesis and the principle that Supersyllabograms do indeed exist, some of them still defy decipherment, even at a human level, let alone extraterrestrial, which only adds further fuel to the raging fire that awaits us when we take even our first baby steps into the putatively impossible task of interstellar communications reliant on syllabaries similar to Minoan Linear A, Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C. For my initial post announcing the existence of Supersyllabograms in Linear B and their profound ramifications in the further simplification of the syllabary, click here:

Linear B Previous Post   

At the time I first posted these Paradigmatic Tables of the Geometric Economy of Linear B, I already suspected I was onto something really big, and even that the very hypothesis of the Geometric Economy of Linear B might and indeed could have potentially colossal ramifications for any operative semiotic base for devising altogether new scripts, scripts that have never been used either historically or in the present, but which could be successfully applied to dynamically artificial intelligence communications systems. However inchoate my musings were at that time that Linear B, being as geometrically economic as it obviously was, at least to my mind, might and could also apply to extra-human communication systems, i.e. communication with extraterrestrials, the thought did pass through my mind, in spite of its apparent absurdity. That is how my mind works. I have repeatedly asserted in this blog that I am forever “the doubting Thomas”, extremely prone not to believe anything that passes before the videographic panorama of my highly associative intellect. Put another way, I recall a fellow researcher of mine, Peter Fletcher, informing me that I had a “lateral mindset”. I had never considered it from that angle before, but even with this truly insightful observation, Peter had not quite hit the mark. Not only does my reasoning process tend to be highly associative and lateral, but also circular, with all of the tautological implications that carries with it.

I devised this paradigm chart of (approximately) rectangular syllabograms and supersyllabograms in Linear B to illustrate how such symbols could conceivably be transmitted to interstellar civilizations in the implausible hope that we might, just might, be able to transmit something vaguely intellgible, however miniscule, to such imagined aliens. But as you might easily imagine, even from a chart of only a small subset of the 61 syllabograms alone in Linear B (another herculean task not yet completed), the dilemma is fraught with almost insurmountable difficulties, even at the theoretical, conjectural level.

In fact, I am a firm believer in the precept that all human rational thought-process are in fact just that, tautological, which is the fundamental reason why it is so utterly perplexing for us as mere humans to even begin to imagine anything at all otherwise, i.e. to think outside the box. But we can if we must. Otherwise, any attempt to communicate on a semiotic basis with extraterrestrial intelligence(s) is simply doomed to failure. The reason is obvious: the semiotic ground and its spinoff framework of signifiers and signified of every single extraterrestrial intelligence (if indeed any such beast exists... see doubting Thomas above) is almost certainly and (inevitably) bound to be completely unlike, or to put it even more accurately, completely alien to any other. And this is precisely where we are on extremely slippery grounds. We may be skating on the surface of the ice, but the ice is thin and is bound almost certainly to crack, before any given extraterrestrial intelligence can even begin to decipher the semiotic framework of our own unique structure of signals, as Richard Saint-Gelais nicely points out in Chapter 5 of his study of the principles underlying the possible communication, however remote, with any single given extraterrestrial intelligence. I cannot stress this enough. The snares and traps we can so easily slip into far outweigh any practical framework even remotely potentially applicable to the (far-fetched) possibility of extraterrestrial communication. But this does not necessarily imply that such communication is impossible. Extremely improbable, yes, but impossible, no. See Infinite Improbability Drive in the Spaceship, Heart of Gold, Wikipedia:

Infinite Improbability Drive

If you have not yet read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, I urge you to do so, at least if you have a sense of humour as nutty as mine. I swear to God it will leave you laughing out loud.

But I have not yet done with the possibility, however, remote, of extraterrestrial communication. There is another ancient syllabary, the younger cousin of Mycenaean Linear B, namely, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, of which the Geometric Economy is even more streamlined and considerably less complex than that of Linear B. I have neither the energy nor the time to even begin approaching that huge undertaking, but you can be sure that I shall eventually take a firm aim at the possibilities for extraterrestrial communication inherent in Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, probably sometime in the winter of 2015. Meanwhile, I would like you all to seriously entertain this notion, which has fascinated me to no end for years and years, namely, that the Greeks, brilliant as they were, were far beyond their contemporaries, including the Romans, by inventing the Linear B & Linear C syllabaries, and consequently the ancient Greek alphabet, all of which sported at the very least the five basic vowels. The whole point is that no other Occidental or Centum ancient writing system prior to ancient Greek, had even dreamt of the concept of vowels – although of course, Oriental Sanskrit, the Satem Indo-European cousin of Greek, had done precisely the same thing! No huge surprise there either, given that the Sanskrit scribes and philosophers were as intellectually refined as the Greeks.

For my previous discussion of The Present and Imperfect Tenses of Reduplicating – MI – Verbs in Linear B & the Centum (Greek) – Satem (Sanskrit) branches of ancient Indo-European languages, click on this banner:
Linear B Previous Post

Now let’s take my assumption one step further. What I am saying, to put it as plainly as the nose on my face, is that the invention of the ancient Greek & Sanskrit writing systems was as enormous a leap in the intellectual progress of humankind as were the equally astounding invention of printing by the Germans & Italians in the early Renaissance, and of computers & the spectacular explosion of the space race in the latter part of the twentieth century, to say nothing of the swift global propagation of the World Wide Web from ca. 1990 to the present. Each of these intellectual leaps have been absolutely pivotal in the advancement of human thinking from concrete to abstract to, we might as well say it out loud, to cosmic, which we are already the cusp of. Three greatest historical revolutions in the expansion of human consciousness, without which we would never have even been capable to rising to the cosmic consciousness which is dawning on humanity at this very moment in our historical timeline.

But, here lies the real crux: without the first great leap the Greeks took in their astonishing invention of Linear B, Linear C & the Greek alphabet, neither of the next two revolutions in human thought could possibly have manifested themselves. But of course, all three did, because all three were inevitable, given the not-so-manifest, but intrinsic destiny humankind has always had access to to, however little we may have been conscious of it “at the time”. But what is time in the whirlpool of infinity? Apparently, not nothing. Far from it. Time is a construct of infinity itself. Einstein is the password. Given this scenario, cosmic consciousness is bound to toss us unceremoniously even out of the box. What a mind-boggling prospect! But someday, possibly even in the not too distance future, we will probably be up to it. We can only hope and pray that we will. It is after all the only way out of the ridiculously paradoxical conundrums which presently face us in the herculean task of communicating at all with alien intelligences. 
 

Richard Vallance Janke, November 2014


Astounding Discovery! Look What I Found from NASA on Linear B! You’ll be amazed! PART 1

Click this banner to read the entire Chapter:

NASA

Once you open the NASA PDF file, just scroll down the Table of Contents to Chapter 5: Beyond Linear B. You will then need to continue scrolling until you reach page 79. You can then scroll page by page through the whole of Chapter 5. I am willing to bet this is going to be as mind-blowing a read for you as it was for me. Here are just a few tantalizing excerpts from Chapter 5:

Excerpts from Chapter 5, by Richard Saint-Gelais

pg. 81:
... the deciphering of coded messages or inscriptions written in extinct languages — may provide a fresh look at the problems involved.

pg. 82:
At first glance, the difficulties involved in the decipherment of coded messages or ancient scripts suggest a rather pessimistic view of the interstellar communication challenge, for if it took specialists many years to solve the enigma of writing systems devised by human beings... passim ... it seems unrealistic to imagine that our messages could be easily understood by beings whose culture, history, and even biology will differ vastly from ours. How can we be sure that some well-meaning interpreter will not misread our intended message?

On a semiotic level, the similarity between the three kinds of situations is readily apparent. Deciphering inscriptions in unknown languages or messages in secret codes implies coping with strings of signs without having any prior knowledge of the encoding rules, so recognizing these rules become one of the ends (instead of the means, as is usually the case) of the interpretive process. The decipherer of unknown languages tries to establish the phonetic and/or semantic value of symbols... passim ... 

I use the word signal instead of sign because at the early stage of interpretation, decipherers must still identify the relevant semiotic units. They are confronted with signals — i.e., material manifestations of some kind (strokes on clay tablets, microwaves of a certain frequency) — that may be signs. A sign is more abstract in nature: it is a semiotic configuration that is relatively independent of the concrete signals that embody it because it is defined by a limited number of relevant features,... 

pg. 89:
The second way is to think up self-contextualizing messages — or, in other words, self-interpreting signs. A self-interpreting sign is easier conceptualized than created. Let’s consider, for instance, the pictograms imagined by H. W. Nieman and C. Wells Nieman, which would be sent as sequences of pulses that correspond to the dots into which an image has been decomposed. In order to reconstruct the correct image, the recipients would need first to convert the linear signal into a bi-dimensional structure and then to interpret that structure to determine what it might signify or represent... passim ... Frank Drake imagined an easy and ingenious way to point to this, by making the total number of dots equal the product of two prime numbers, say 17 and 23, so that the transmitted message can be construed only as a 17-by-23-cell grid. Such a signal is as close as we may come to a message embodying an interpretive instruction. It assumes only a basic knowledge of prime numbers, which is not asking too much. So this instruction looks promising, but only insofar as the recipient deduces that the signal corresponds to a rectangular grid (See next post for more).

pg. 91:
We must remember that a message is composed not of one isolated sign but of (sometimes complex) combinations of signs, which may contribute to their mutual elucidation. This is precisely the idea behind Vakoch’s proposal of a sequence of frames, each of which would contain six distinct areas: one for the picture; four for different parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs); and one for the interrelationship between two successive frames (a meta-sign, then). Here we have a combination of icons (the shape of a human body, or of parts of it) and symbols: nouns for what is shown in the picture, adjectives for properties of that object (e.g., high, low, etc.), verbs for actions performed by the character between two successive frames, and adverbs for characteristics of that action (fast, slow). At first it may seem dubious that a recipient could establish a correlation between a given symbol and what it is intended to designate, or even that this recipient could identify it as a symbol and not as part of the picture. What may decisively help this eventual recipient is the mutual interpretation that parts of the message provide for one another ... passim... and the systematic interplay of repetition and variation between frames, which will give recipients the opportunity to make conjectures — abductions — that the subsequent frames may either confirm or inform... passim...

What we know of interpretation shows that this inability to control reception is always the case anyway, and that it is not necessarily a bad thing. A widespread conception of communication rests on the premise that successful reception of a message is one that recovers the meaning its sender meant to convey through it. But the history of the decipherment of unknown languages shows that things are never so simple, and that oblique ways of reading sometimes lead to unexpected breakthroughs. In his book on extinct languages, Johannes Friedrich points out that the direction in which a script should be read can sometimes be deduced from the pp. 92-93 (ff.) empty space at the end of an inscription’s last line. Here we have an index, a sign caused by its object: the direction of writing is concretely responsible for which side of the last line is left blank. But this is not so conspicuous a sign that it does not require a piece of abductive reasoning. Strange as it may seem, I see in this small example some grounds for hope regarding interstellar communication. We tend to conceptualize communication with extraterrestrial intelligences in terms of the successful transmission of intended meanings. But the production and reception of signs cannot be restricted to an intentional plane. An important feature of most indices is their unintentional nature.

Richard Saint-Gelais

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