Memos to Signatories, July 2008
(1) From Principal Investigator H. Paul Shuch
The Invitation to ETI is at a crossroads. Since this innovative SETI experiment's inception a decade ago, it has benefitted from the energies, resources, and generosity of its Founder and Chief Scientist, Prof. Allen Tough. Allen remains committed to this Invitation, and his enthusiasm has not waned.
Unfortunately, as reported in previous Memos to Signatories, his health has. Reluctantly recognizing that he will not always have the energy to continue giving the Invitation to ETI the attention it deserves, Allen has proposed a reorganization of the project's leadership team, and a subtle realignment of the project's priorities. As Principal Investigator, I am fully in accord with Allen's thinking, which he outlines below.
How will these pending changes affect you, as a Signatory to this Invitation? Probably very little, if at all. I ask you to review your biographical sketch on the website, and to send me any relevant updates (including a recent photo) at your earliest convenience. I will shortly be relinquishing my (heretofore paid) webmastering services to Paul Tough, who will serve on a volunteer basis. I will of course be happy to continue as PI, also on a purely volunteer basis. Our objective is to make the Invitation self-sustaining into the indefinite future.
One should not expect Allen to continue forever as the sole financial supporter of IETI. However, he and I both made a pledge at the outset never to ask any of you for any monetary contribution, and we fully intend to honor that commitment. Thus, as PI, I am currently exploring fundraising alternatives, and will be grateful for any suggestions which any of you might proffer.
We are all indebted to Allen Tough for his leadership, inspiration, creativity, and courage in initiating this daring venture. We can best honor him by keeping his Invitation alive and vibrant, long beyond his personal ability directly to support it.
Yours for SETI success,
TOWARD A SUSTAINABLE INVITATION TO ETI
Logic and science indicate that advanced societies will explore our galaxy and find our planet. They are most likely here! But, not in the form of lumbering spacecraft with portholes and flashing lights. Possibly in the form of small, smart, intelligent probes.
This is why the Invitation to ETI exists. We want to greet them, welcome them, and talk to them. We do not want them to look us over and find that no one is taking any action toward contact. I think it is very important that at least 100 people out of this busy human society on Earth join together to invite a dialogue. I believe each of these 100 people should feel proud to be a Signatory to the Invitation to ETI.
I would like to ensure that this group and its invitation continue for many years. I would like to make it self-sustaining so that its future does not depend on any one individual. I think it is very important to maintain the website as a genuine, active invitation for many more years, rather than as an archive or museum. Here is my plan.
One major principle is this: cut the work and time down to a minimum. Keeping the Invitation alive is far more important to me than having it be popular, attractive to humans, or constantly updated. The project has only one major purpose: a response from a genuine form of ETI.
Dr. H. Paul Shuch will continue as Principal Investigator, providing leadership in the research aspects of the project, and in fund-raising. Also he will recruit more Signatories whenever necessary. With his experience, expertise, and connections, he is probably the best person in the world for these tasks.
Rev. Susan Tough will be the Chief Executive Officer of the project, writing the annual report and generally performing the tasks of a CEO.
Mr. Paul Tough will become the new Webmaster sometime in the next 3-6 months. Paul Tough will simultaneously be mastering Dreamweaver software in order to establish a website for his book called Whatever It Takes (publication date: September 10, 2008).
We will soon establish a group of 4-8 Signatories, chaired initially by Paul Shuch, to serve as a Welcoming Committee. It will, in fact, also serve as the screening committee to screen claims. When a claim is received, it will immediately be forwarded to all committee members. One member will volunteer to handle the claim. Using an informal rotation system, this will be a person who has not recently handled a claim. A subcommittee of relevant experts might be established for some claims.
I will continue as the founder, owner, and benefactor of the project. My previous job as Chief Scientist is being phased out.
Ms. Anne Hartman continues working as my able research assistant. She is also a Ph.D. student in anthropology.
Under this new arrangement, the organization should be self-sustaining and long-lived. Because all positions are now voluntary (unpaid), it becomes a very inexpensive project. Yet its potential impact is breathtaking.
Allen Tough, June 2008
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