A book chapter entitled Introducing humans to the extraterrestrials was published by the Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Study in the Multidisciplinary Writing Series on December 11, 2017. The book ‘Liv: Utomjordiskt, Syntetiskt, Artificiellt’ (Life: Extraterrestrial, Synthetic, Artificial) is based on the research work of A Plurality of Lives theme. The book was edited project coordinators Jessica Abbott and Erik Persson. Many thanks to Anna Cabak Redei for translating my English text into Swedish: Att presentera människan för utomjordingar.
The purpose of Life: Extraterrestrial, Synthetic, Artificial is to highlight the challenges that come with extraterrestrial, artificial and synthetic life. The interdisciplinary approach has given the authors the opportunity to illuminate the issues from every imaginable angle, but also to find completely new combinations of methods and approaches. Given the versatility and great importance of life from so many different perspectives, this approach has been absolutely necessary.
The authors’ hope is that the book will inspire new thoughts and discussions about life. The book addresses both those who are already interested and those who have not yet begun to think about the challenges posed by extraterrestrial, artificial and synthetic life.
My chapter gives a brief overview of representations of human life on NASA’s 1972 Pioneer Plaque and the 1977 Voyager Golden Record. These spacecrafts carry messages informing about life on Earth. What information was included? How were humans introduced? What methods were used to communicate the message? And, do those messages really speak on behalf of humans of our planet? After the overview of NASA’s two interstellar messages, the chapter examines the message designs and analyses ‘story of human life’. Using the anthropology of science approach, the chapter shows that is was science as the fundamental concept that shaped the composition of both the Pioneer and Voyager messages.