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The Voyager update project
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  • bmax’s project
    The Voyager update project
    Description has not yet been created.
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    A Beacon of Wonder

    The Lighthouse Project: the Astronomical Wonder of the World. This was the subject of the project that my group finally arrived at after ten weeks of contemplation, research, and development. Throughout this period we underwent a series of steps by working together to understand the problem that we were trying to solve, and then developing a solution encompassing both the plausible and the abstract. As we worked together we found some problems were more difficult to solve then others, such as: Who would fund such an extraordinary proposal? How can such a project really lead to a unified world? Despite these hurdles, our group was able to come together and find a focus for our project, determine who our sponsors would be, and finally to place it within the context of being a “Wonder”.
    To encompass our goals and expectations for the project, we wrote a mission statement for our website, which I believes summarizes our project quite effectively. It reads as follows:

    “The Lighthouse Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the exploration and creation of the first Astronomical Wonder of the World.

    In keeping with the tradition of the other Wonders of the World, the Lighthouse Project will serve to bring the world together by creating a beacon of hope and preservation of our existence. Through the smoothing of cosmic background our intent is to create an aura far above and around the world, marking the Earth's existence within the universe. If detected, the creation of this beacon could provide the means to create a chain reaction of discovery in the universe and potential communication with our cosmic neighbors. We hope that our beacon can act as the catalyst that could potentially draw the interest of any intelligent life in the universe to our galaxy, our solar system, and our Earth.

    In order to achieve this goal we will be launching state of the art properly equipped satellites beyond our moon. These satellites will then serve to smooth out our cosmic background, creating a notable difference between our surrounding neighbors and ourselves. This effect will create a beacon or an aura around our Earth. This change could catch the attention of any intelligent life in the universe actively observing the cosmos, hopefully one day leading to intergalactic communication.

    Working to achieve our goals, we turn to forward thinking corporations for financial support for our project. In today's globalizing market, states are losing their influence and companies are transcending boundaries. This ability to not be limited by borders is allowing companies to expand their boundaries, becoming cultural institutions.

    The Lighthouse Project is a constantly expanding project looking for potential donors. Donors will receive recognition in accordance to the denomination of each donation through the Lighthouse Application found on this site. This application is free and available for anyone to download to watch the live progress of our smoothing process.

    Our organization is founded on the principles of exploration, innovation, and solidarity. We are working towards establishing our navigational beacon so that in the future we may have the opportunity to mark our existence within the universe while providing a catalyst for potential intergalactic communication.”

    Beyond this overview of the project, I would like to go into some of the more philosophical aspects of the implications of our project. The first idea that I would like to contemplate is the conceptualization of our project expanding the boundaries of the human experience. In the past, humans were limited to certain “boundaries”; for example, in the early 1900’s traveling was difficult because of the confines of transportation. If an ordinary person (ie: not a extraordinary wealthy person) wanted to get around they were forced to use a horse and carriage, or maybe even a ship. Now with the innovations of technology humans can not only transcend worldly boundaries, but a select few can also even travel into Space. If technology has allowed the human experience to expand from a limited distance of a few miles, to the realm of Space surrounding our Earth, where can we go next? Technology is an exciting field as it is constantly expanding and being updated.

    I think that our project is pushing the boundaries of today’s technology in not only a scientific way, but also in an ethical way. With a project such as ours, where we are changing the normative state of Space, ethical questions are bound to arise. People who are content with existing in a “safe” environment would object to our project for a variety of reasons, one being that we are modifying the Cosmic Background Radiation. Radiation in today’s society is a scary word. As we are still discovering the effects of what it can do to our bodies and our planet, we are weary to explore the possibilities of what can really be done with it. Humans have a desire to develop our technological hearsay, but we are always weary of the detriment. By expanding the human experience through technology, we are also questioning the importance of limiting ourselves to our realized knowledge.

    It is also important to think about our project in relation to the human desire to explore the unknown. I feel that humans have this innate desire to go out and “discover” new things, and that we are never satisfied with what we already know. The Lighthouse Project embodies this desire, particularly in regards to our objective of sending a message. One of the main purposes behind our project is to create a means through which society can potentially communicate with other intelligent life in the universe. As humans interested in the unknown, we have this peculiar relationship to the idea of communicating with extraterrestrial life. In one way we are interested in discovering if there really are other forms of intellectual life, because it is a huge unknown. On the other hand, many humans are scared of what potential contact might mean for society and for the Earth. Glorified in the media, extraterrestrials are often depicted as coming to the Earth to destroy or hurt us. It is rare that any kind of extraterrestrial contact is depicted in a positive light. I believe that this pessimistic narrative has been partly influenced by the fact that extraterrestrial life is an unknown that humans really do not have the means to solve. Since we currently do not possess the means to solve this unknown, we suppress the human anxiety about it by creating stories and myths. Through these narratives humans are able to find comfort, and I believe a sense of satisfaction, at getting some answer to the unknown despite it being a fictional one. Our project serves as another outlet for an attempt at solving the mystery of whether or not extraterrestrials really do exist.

    This project serves not only as a means to attempt to solve the unknown of extraterrestrial life, but on a certain level it also functions as a piece of Media Art. Part of the definition of Media Art is using technology to create new and innovative works. I believe that our Lighthouse Project is definitely embracing various aspects of Media Art. On the most basic level, we are utilizing technology to do something that has never been done before, which also has the potential to be highly controversial. We are embracing the idea of interaction with artwork. As the satellites move around the Earth their progress is captured and brought back live into an application for the computer. A user can then download this application and run it on their computer. They can then monitor the satellites’ progress and watch as they change the area surrounding the Earth. The user is then essentially engaging with the artwork, as it is constantly being modified. Though the change cannot be seen with the naked eye, through this application anyone with access to the Internet and a computer can follow the modification process. Similar in methodology to an artist painting on a canvas, the alteration of the Cosmic Background Radiation creates a social commentary on the expansion of technology and humanity’s abilities to expand our boundaries.

    In addition to being considered a piece of Media Art, there are other social implications of doing such a project. One viable point that was brought up in critique about our project is the concept that the Lighthouse Project is the ultimate act of faith in humanity. In imagining such a project with so many unknown factors and potentially illicit responses, we as a group of individuals are almost inhumanly optimistic about the outcome. For this project to work, the entirety of world society would have to support not only the idea of modifying the Earth’s Cosmic Background Radiation, but that we are also trying to communicate with extraterrestrial life forms. This would be quite an accomplishment if it were ever possible. There is such fear and mythology created around extraterrestrials that this would most certainly cause divisions among the people of the world. We are more likely to start World War III then to be able to get the entire world to agree on such a thing. Even so, who’s to say it is not possible? I would like to think that somewhere deep down in humanity that we all yearn to join together in a project of solidarity. Or, if not, at least we are all so egotistical that we would engage in such an extraordinary activity just to be remembered. For what seems to be a far-fetched idea, I believe that given the technology to do it, the Earth could really use a project like The Lighthouse Project. Today humanity is so divided and corrupt, that having a project that all of the world could unite under may lead to other reformation or at least evaluation of some to the Earth’s other problems. Society as a whole needs to be reminded that there is more to life then money and capitalism, that maybe mercy should also be involved somewhere.

    While I believe that our project is clearly optimistic and can be seen as rather far-fetched, it still holds a solid purpose. As a “Wonder” it serves to mystify, while through technology it becomes advancement and achievement. It helps to expand human boundaries, while allowing us another outlet to explore our innate desire to solve the unknown. In a sense, it also becomes a piece of Media Art by encouraging interactivity and participation. Ideally, it acts as an optimistic outlook towards the humanity’s unification. That even if such a project was never to happen, that it might draw attention to the other deficiencies of today’s society. Overall, the Lighthouse Project brings attention to our globalized world through the means of social commentary and technological innovation.

    Thu, Mar 20, 2008  Permanent link
    Categories: lighthouse
    Sent to project: The Voyager update project
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    In order to accomplish our project of successfully having a beacon in space we would need funding, so this week we were asked to look into potential sponsors. I chose Carlos Slim Helú and the World Bank.





    Carlos Slim Helú

    - worth around $50 billion
    - holdings span telecom, banking, energy, tobacco and more
    - has a "monopoly" in the phone industry with his company Telmex in Mexico as he controls both (Mexico consists largely of monopolies) : 90% of landlines
    - he is distrusted and disliked in his country
    - he has once again taken an interest in philanthropy
    - became rich by buying companies cheap and turning them around
    - He gives no accounting of what he has spent and is still vague about where much of the new money will go.
    - He is well know for investing in projects early on and reaping monetary benefits from their returns
    - "We're making a lot of small investments in technology-related companies so that we can take advantage of the possible synergies"
    - "The key is the Internet. The U.S. is by far the most advanced country in this new digital culture, so we have to be there. The Internet is the heart of this new civilization, and telecommunications are the nervous system, or circulatory system. And stores will still be necessary to sell products and services and to teach people how to operate in this new digital civilization."

    http://www.forbes.com/free_forbes/2007/0326/134.html
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/28/business/worldbusiness/28slim.html_r=1&oref=slogin
    http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_08/b3669023.htm



    World Bank

    - The World Bank offers a limited number of grants to assist development projects, grants that are designed to encourage innovation, co-operation between organizations and to increase local stakeholders' participation in projects
    - The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has built up a portfolio of investments in emerging market investment funds representing a commitment of $1 billion in about 100 funds, over 80 percent of which are private equity
    - Yes. To be eligible for IFC funding, a project must:
    ⁃ Be located in a developing country that is a member of IFC
    ⁃ Be in the private sector
    ⁃ Be technically sound
    ⁃ Have good prospects of being profitable
    ⁃ Benefit the local economy
    ⁃ Be environmentally and socially sound, satisfying IFC environmental and social standards as well as those of the host country
    - Focuses on developing countries, by providing them with "low-interest loans", "interest-free credit", and "grants" to reduce global poverty and improve living standards.

    http://web.worldbank.org
    http://www.ifc.org/funds/


    So after looking into these two potential sources of funding I have decided that neither of them would really meet the needs of our project. Carlos Slim does not seem like a good candidate, though he has money he is not well known to actively participate in any philanthropy or other means of donation. He also is disliked by the people of his own country and holds a virtual monopoly in Mexico, all signs that maybe he would not be the most reliable source of funding. In regards to the World Bank, though I thought that there might be a loophole that we might be able to exploit within the system, after extensive research it turns out that there is really no such thing. They would not be an organization interested in funding our endeavors.
    Wed, Feb 13, 2008  Permanent link
    Categories: lighthouse
    Sent to project: The Voyager update project
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    Message:



    (From Wikipedia)

    “A message in its most general meaning is an object of communication. It is something that provides information; it can also be this information itself. Therefore, its meaning is dependent upon the context in which it is used; the term may apply to both the information and its form.”

    Pros:

    It could act similarly to Carbon Dating and act as a measure to “date” the Earth. It could help to leave a marking and information about the human species in case a disaster happens and the Earth is destroyed.

    It would provide comfort to the human inhabitants of the Earth, similar to a security blanket. They know that their “legacy” will be remembered.

    It could be used to clarify the jumble of information already circulating Earth (such as random radio waves, messages, etc). This would help to provide a clearer source of information about the Earth and its inhabitants.

    If the “intelligent life form” indeed follows our beacon and finds Earth they will have the means to understand that we are a society of intelligent life and it may help determine whether or not they should try to contact us.

    Cons:

    It may be hard to update, especially depending on what form it takes

    How can such a message be encapsulated? Do we even have the technology to do this?

    The “intelligent life form” may be dangerous and by providing them with information we will basically be exposing ourselves to providing them with knowledge that may potentially hurt us.

    Specifics? How can we communicate with an unknown? What means could we use besides verbal communication?

    We do not know our audience

    There are already a lot of messages out in Space from Earth. Do we really want to clutter space with more “potentially useless” information?

    If we decide to use a physical means to encapsulate the information we could join in adding to the space “junk” that is already out there and it may collide with other things out in orbit.

    Boron Nanotubes

    Satellite location around the Earth

    Solar wind from the Sun

    Mon, Feb 4, 2008  Permanent link
    Categories: lighthouse
    Sent to project: The Voyager update project
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