If you haven’t seen the SETI Institute‘s “Earth Speaks” project, you might want to do so.  You can log in to post or record a message you would like to send to an extraterrestrial intelligence, or submit your message via Twitter.  The outcome of this has been a large collection of questions, dire predictions, jokes, Star Trek references and the to-be-expected indictments of humanity.  Gary Stix of Scientific American recently posted some examples of the discourse, along with some commentary.

Can we gain something from this reflexive exercise?  I’m intrigued by the frequent Othering of humanity in the messages.  Many bemoan our species’ history of war and hatred, but this fixation on human flaws often apes the very misanthropy that it pretends to oppose.  As of this posting, the words “peace” and “hello” dominate the message section’s rotatable tag cloud.

What do you want to say, and who do you think should hear it?

Here’s a fascinating piece from Scientific American by Larry Greenemeier.  It concerns data-mining software developed by Harvard University and the Broad Institute of M.I.T. and Harvard.  The software in question is a component of the Maximal Information-based Nonparametric Exploration (MINE) program.

“The software teases out relationships among data points (potentially millions of them) and measures the strength of these connections. As the researchers report in a paper appearing in the December 16 issue of the journal Science, most data-mining tools used today can either find correlations between data or determine how solid those connections are—few can do both.” [Link in original]

Greenemeier summarizes the results of the program’s initial runs on World Health Organization and Major League Baseball data.  Check it out.