In an article for the Journal of British Interplanetary Studies, Jacob Haqq-Misra proposes to fund the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) project by issuing a bond that pays out when proof of intelligent life on other planets is discovered.
The proposed bond is a “lottery bond,” meaning that it will return a low and fixed rate of interest until it matures — and it only reaches maturity when the SETI project discovers definitive proof of the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life.
Once the bond matures, a few “lucky” bondholders will receive a handsome payout, while other investors will receive little to nothing, much like a conventional lottery ticket.
According to Haqq-Misra’s paper, “[t]he total capital raised this way will provide a fund to be managed by a ﬁnancial institution, with annual payments from this fund to support SETI research, pay investor interest, and contribute to the lottery fund. Such a plan could generate several to tens of millions of dollars for SETI research each year, which would help to revitalize and expand facilities such as the Allen Telescope Array.”
Though Business Insider believes such bonds will be a hard sell because they assume the Drake Equation to be correct, “they’re a fun way to help underfunded space research [and] if we do end up finding an alien civilization, you or your descendants will be able to cash out big time.”
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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