Legal and Policy


The primary objective is the creation of a comprehensive legislative framework,
which can be applied when a form of extraterrestrial intelligence is detected.

The second objective is gaining a more comprehensive understanding of human nature
and how it could impact interaction with any extraterrestrial intelligent life.

First objective - Alan Goodman’s four detection protocols

  1. Researchers should have the freedom to communicate possible detections of signals, spacecraft, or habitats.
  2. An international consultation should be the base for any possible answer to extraterrestrial signals, or further investigation of found artifacts.
  3. Visiting extraterrestrials should have the status of diplomatic envoys, independent of their form or communication capabilities.
  4. In the case of possible threats from extraterrestrial life forms, nations should not act prior to consultation with the UN Security Council.

Protocol one set the basis for the International Academy Astronautics post detection principles


  1. The search for extra- terrestrial intelligence is considered part of the space exploration activities by the IAA. However, there are no examples of regulations or cases in which SETI is treated as part of space exploration. This implies that SETI cannot be considered under the Outer Space Treaty.
  2. Principles have weaknesses mainly related to communication of possible detections to the public. In particular, fast communication networks need to be taken into consideration.
  3. There is a problem related to the uncertainty of findings.

In support of outer space treaty

  1. Article I: The first article of the OST supports SETI activities. It states that the investigation of outer space should be free for everyone; and moreover, ‘article I’ encourages international cooperation in space exploration.
  2. Article V: The concept that an astronaut should be considered as an envoy for the whole of humankind is bounded with the possibility of a space explorer finding extraterrestrial life forms. In such a situation, the finder should know how to act not only from an operative point of view but also taking into consideration that what will be done, will be done on behalf of all the people of the Earth.
  3. Article XI: It says that each activity conducted in outer space by countries has to be reported to the Secretary General of the United Nations, to the public, and to the international scientific community.

Therefore the team proposes...

  1. To legitimize the post- detection principles in an international context, like COSPAR or COPUOS.
  2. To use the NoisyCube to create a first case to present SETI as space exploration. In this way it could be possible to bind SETI researchers to the Outer Space Treaty.
  3. The team also proposed amendments to the IAA post-detection principles. These can be found in detail in the full report.

Second objective - Ethical Considerations

The second objective is gaining a more comprehensive understanding of human nature and how it could impact interaction with any extraterrestrial intelligent life. Given the difficulties in defining what intelligence is and the complexity of creating a framework for a relationship where only one of the two factors is known, the report considers the relationship between human civilization and the environment, and with the most comparable form of intelligence available on Earth, animals. By connecting the concept of extraterrestrial intelligence to comparable parallels on Earth, it may be possible to simulate a scenario wherein evidence of extraterrestrial intelligent life is found, and which behaviors to avoid based on historical notions. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence is, in fact, nothing more than a mirror, through which humanity can be able to observe itself from another perspective.

The work concludes with the need to move away from the anthropocentric vision of the world that currently characterizes society, and recognize the value of each individual component of the cosmos instead. Then, humanity may be sufficiently prepared to face the discovery of new forms of intelligence in a constructive and non-destructive way.