Stephen Wolfram Q&A

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Some collected questions and answers by Stephen Wolfram

Questions may be edited for brevity; see links for full questions.

March 21, 2018

From: Interview by Tim Urban, New York Magazine

Why is it important to try to communicate to aliens and send out time capsules and capture information about us?

I think it’s having pride about what we’ve achieved and building a monument to it. That’s as important as it is to imagine that at some point, some alien is gonna pick it up and do something with it. It’s like, Why were the pyramids built? Well, it was probably in large part as an exercise for the time, more so than that they thought this is gonna be something to transmit to the afterlife.

It’s something which is an interesting thing for our current civilization to imagine: what is the essence of what we’ve produced and how can we imagine communicating it? I’m kind of particularly amused by for example, Elon Musk’s car going into… launching his car into space, because that is so extremely aligned with the notion of grave goods from ancient Egypt or ancient China or something. It’s really charming. It’s literally this concept of grave goods, where you’re taking things from your everyday life and you’re burying them with you. In this case, you’re sending them out into the cosmos.

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