Post-doc WIP - Jennifer Whyte

February 15, -

West Duke 204


Title: Mathematical SETIbacks: Open Texture in Mathematics as a new challenge for Messaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence 


Abstract: The question of alien conceptual structures did not become a practical one until the first radio telescopes of the 20th century made it possible to send and receive messages from the stars. In this paper, I will present a new argument against the feasibility of making our signals understood by aliens and show that it is different from the more typical Wittgensteinian arguments for and against alien contact. The new problem I present, the Problem from Open Texture in Mathematics, is a practical problem that falls out of the history of mathematics and the implementation of real METI projects – specifically, the semiprime number self-decryption schema of the Drake Pictures message strategy. I argue that the version of the problem I present would remain a problem even under ideal circumstances, and thus that it is the strongest version of the argument.