If any group or individual is going to find extraterrestrial life, chances are it will be the SETI Institute. The SETI Institute is a group of interdisciplinary researchers who have been scanning the cosmos for signs of intelligent life for over thirty years. While many false alarms and interesting anomalous signals have been detected, SETI has yet to find conclusive proof of intelligent life outside of Earth. However, we might be getting close. According to one leading SETI scientist, we might be only a decade or two away from discovering evidence of an intelligent alien civilization.
That prediction was made by Seth Shostak, one of the senior astronomers at the SETI Institute in California. Shostak was interviewed at the Worlds Fair Nano in New York, a convention dedicated to futurology, cutting-edge technology, and all things visionary. Shostak told Futurism that current advances in telescopes, satellites, and data collection mean that we’re on the verge of being able to survey the stars like never before.
Shostak believes that if current trends continue, we’ll likely discover an alien race within twenty years, but that won’t necessarily mean an intergalactic handshake with little green men, however:
We may find microbial life - the kind you'd find in the corners of your bathtub. We may find that a lot sooner, but that remains to be seen. But it's gonna happen, I think, in your lifetime. I don't know about contact. I mean if they're 500 light years away ... you'll hear a signal that'll be 500 years old, and if you broadcast back 'Hi we're the Earthlings, how're you doing?' - it'll be 1,000 years before you hear back from them. If you ever hear back from them.
Still, microbes on some desolate moon are a lot better than the thought that we might be all alone in the universe. Despite what the Fermi Paradox might say, I find it too hard to believe that in the near-infinite vastness of space, we are the only intelligent life. The big question is when - or if - we’ll ever discover other civilizations and if we'll even recognize alien life when we see it. Of course, then there's the question of them being friendly or not. Still, the scariest part of it all is wondering how the human race will react. If history is any guide, not well.