Whereas the SETI folks would like to see evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, the METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) people go a step or two further. They want to decode messages sent by intelligent aliens.
Last week METI held a workshop in Los Angeles with the aim of finding out if “language — or at least certain essential elements of language — might be universal throughout the cosmos.”
Noam Chomsky promoted the view that all “terrestrial languages share a common underlying structure," and the METI folks think that this might also apply to the whole universe.
Sheri Wells-Jensen, a linguist at Bowling Green University in Ohio, wants to recruit laypeople to decipher potential messages sent by aliens.
For some reason, the SETI/METI people tend to assume that aliens are “far more advanced technologically than we are” and thus capable of sending intelligent messages from their home planet or spaceship tens of hundreds of light years away.