Responding to the claim that intelligent life must be commonplace throughout the universe, the physicist Enrico Fermi famously asked, “Where is everybody?” With this conundrum, Fermi called attention to the fact that a universe teeming with intelligence would likely be obvious to us. To explain this 'great silence', scientists have hypothesized that life must pass a crucial technological threshold to colonize interstellar space. Some aspects of societal advancement appear to be self-defeating, or at least highly perilous. Can the absence of extraterrestrial contact inform our response to existential threats on our own planet, such as anthropogenic climate change? In this talk, SETI Institute artist-in-residence Jonathon Keats will discuss his efforts to creatively engage Fermi's paradox through the creation of a Library of the Great Silence where humans can collectively assess global conditions from a cosmic perspective. Drawing on this experience, Keats will consider the potential for artists and philosophers to apply SETI and astrobiology for the practical benefit of society.
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