Oh dear paranoia has set in.
I felt that Seth Shotak's comments on ET being an artificial intelligence resonated with a feeling that I have had for many years, that we were in the process of building our own successors. That Homo Sapiens were the transitional stage between a life form based upon Carbon to one based on Silicon. Indeed although not sentient yet, our spacecraft such as Galileo, Cassini and the Mars rovers have shown how much more robust their form is compared to ours, and as Seth has indicated, it can't be too much longer before the truly intelligent machine is built. In the past this train of thought has never really bothered me.
However whilst sharing a nostalgic Skype call with my brother, we were discussing TV programs that had a strong influence in our childhood – I found myself recollecting Fred Hoyle's “A for Andromeda” when under the instructions of ET's radio message, the scientists had built a biological eye to provide visual input. I remember it being really scary at the time. It was at this point I noticed that staring me right in the face was my Laptops built in web cam, no need to build Fred Hoyle's eye at all.
Suddenly I began to feel that we have made it easy for an artificial life form to translocate to earth. We have already seen how miscreants can take over our computers via Viruses, Trojan horse code, etc. but invariably they give themselves away by either their creators vanity, wishing their handy work to be known about, and wiping your hard disc, else via their greed in emptying your bank account. However how many of us would notice a background task running quietly in the background doing nothing but observing – they wouldn't get picked up by the anti-virus software, as they don't have a known signature. Anders has already pointed out that a sufficiently complex communication would be indistinguishable from the noise background. And what is it the transmission first meet – our computers, a new home for the artificial intelligence. True these might not be big enough to hold the full sentient being, so what do we do, distribute it into the largest distributed computer complex known to man, via Seti@Home, and sites like ours.
I must stop eating cheese before I go to bed its giving me nightmares;-)
That's a pretty creepy thought. Every bit of noise you see, every "rounding error", every flicker of static across your TV screen could be artifacts of unseen software agents modulating the signal as they communicate - or even manipulate your experience of reality.
Can't help thinking of this story. Considering the huge risks that exist in the financial markets this could well be the place where autonomous artificial intelligences first arise as speculants push the limits further and further in their constant efforts to outdo all the other speculants.
By the way, speaking of Seth Shostak and our coming robotic overlords, the radio program that Shostak hosts touched this subject last week: http://radio.seti.org:80/episodes/We_ve_Got_You_Made