The annual “Contact: Cultures of the Imagination” conference was held at NASA Ames, March 26-28, 2010, with 70 scientists, artists, and writers attending. Presentations by Ames researchers included overviews of the Kepler mission (Todd Klaus, Lead Software Engineer, Science Operations Center), the participatory exploration program (Yvonne Clearwater, Special Projects Office), the habitability of the Phoenix landing site (Carol Stoker, SST), flying on Titan (Larry Lemke, SST), and mission operations beyond Earth orbit (Rob McCann, TH). A related panel discussed human-rating automated and robotic systems (Andy Mishkin, JPL; Lynn Baroff, CA Space Education & Workforce Inst.; Bill Clancey, TI; Darrell Jan, JPL; and Carol Stoker, Azusa Pacific University).
Other presentations relating the space program, intelligence, and culture included an evaluation of the risk to Earth of broadcasting to extra-terrestrials (Seth Shostak, SETI); recent studies of possible human reactions to “contact” with ETs (Al Harrison, UC Davis); what worldviews underlie and might be limiting the search for ET intelligence (Bill Clancey, TI); how networking technology is turning humanity into a super organism (Michael Sims, TI); an appraisal of state-of-the-art 3D animation of humans, with a panel discussion of the movie Avatar (Chris Ford, Renderman Director, Pixar); a comparison of the social behavior of humans, chimpanzees, and bonobos (Jim Moore, UC San Diego); and how dolphins experiment with humans (Roberta Goodman, Wild Dolphin Swims, Kona, HI).
BACKGROUND: Contact is an interdisciplinary conference that brings together social and space scientists and science fiction writers and artists to exchange ideas, stimulate new perspectives, and encourage serious, creative speculation about humanity's future. The conference promotes the integration of human factors into space age research and policy, emphasizes the interaction of the arts and sciences and their technologies, and develops ethical approaches in cross-cultural contact, whenever and wherever it occurs. Contact, a non-profit organization, began in 1983 and has been holding meetings at NASA Ames since 1999. For more information, see http://www.contact-conference.com.
COLLABORATOR: Jim Funaro (Cabrillo College, Professor Emeritus)
NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Spaceward Bound and ESMD
Contact: Bill Clancey (ARC/TI & IHMC); Chris McKay (ARC/SST)