The Society for Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology (SSoCIA) is a new organization dedicated to rigorous exploration of the many broader issues surrounding astrobiology and space exploration more generally. We are a young and growing community, with about 100 active members representing academics from natural science, social science, and the humanities; professionals working in the space industry; as well as experts from the communication, education, and science fiction communities. Our goal is to foster serious thoughtful engagement with these issues in an informal and friendly atmosphere. Our fourth international meeting will be held at the University of Mississippi on March 7-9, 2022 (we will arrange a limited number of virtual presentations for those who cannot attend in person).
This year we are pleased to have two exceptional keynote speakers:
Dr. Seth Shostak is a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute. He is well-known as an advocate for better public understanding of science and a major figure in the SETI community. He has been involved in a number of debates of interest to the SSoCIA members, most recently arguing in favor of attempts to message extraterrestrials (METI).
Dr. Simon Conway-Morris is a paleontologist and astrobiologist at the University of Cambridge and fellow of the Royal Society. He has been active in several public debates concerning the relationship between science and religion, taking strong positions against creationism and reductionism. His 2003 book, Life’s Solutions, argues that the emergence of human-like intelligence is a near inevitability on worlds with the right conditions.
We welcome abstract submissions addressing any of the issues in astrobiology and space exploration that go beyond the purely empirical, regardless of discipline or approach. Questions addressed in previous meetings have included:
- What is “life”?
- Is human colonization of other worlds morally permissible?
- Should we move forward with attempts to contact extraterrestrial intelligence (METI)?
- What is the ethical status of different types of extraterrestrials?
- How can we overcome problems inherent in interspecies communication?
- What would be the religious significance of a second genesis?
- To what extent can we say human and alien intelligence and motives are similar?
- How should off world colonies be governed?
- What should be the model of ownership for regions beyond Earth?
- Is the prime directive an appropriate ethical principle to use for first contact?
- How do our attitudes towards space reflect unexamined cultural tropes?
- What are the public’s attitudes towards large scale space projects?
- Is it possible to “pollute” a lifeless world?
- What does “wilderness” mean beyond Earth?
- How can we use astrobiology to further science education?