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Who We Are: Kathryn Denning

Dr. Kathryn Denning, the Distinguished Advisor to the Invitation to ETI, is an anthropologist/archaeologist who has taught and conducted research at universities in Canada and the UK. She has been intrigued by SETI since seeing Carl Sagan's series Cosmos as a child, and actively renewed her interest in the subject two decades later, in 2003. Since then, she has participated in SETI Institute seminars about interstellar message construction, and has presented papers on SETI-related themes at the American Anthropological Association and CONTACT. She is a member of the SETI Permanent Study Group of the International Academy of Astronautics, and she is frequently invited to speak about her SETI work at international conferences. She continues to study SETI-related subjects, including: scientists' conceptions of ETI, and how these are influenced by culture, history, and by the technology used in SETI; how archaeology might inform interstellar message construction; and what the course of civilizations on Earth might tell us about the Drake factor "L". Denning enjoys exploring the philosophical resonances between archaeology and SETI. Both involve the quest to know about Others distant from us in space and time; both require us to challenge our own ideas about intelligence, ways to think, and ways to live; both can force us to work in challenging realms of scientific thought, where theories and searches are compelling, but evidence is difficult to interpret and proof is elusive; both pose fascinating theoretical challenges in communication; and both make us reconsider our own place in the world. Although she is persuaded by the scientific arguments about the probability of some sort of life elsewhere in the universe, Denning remains unconvinced that ETI is surfing the Web. However, she would be delighted to be proven wrong. Kathryn Denning

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The Invitation to ETI was founded by Prof. Allen Tough
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