Yuri Milner, a Russian billionaire and internet entrepreneur, announced today that he is ready to spend $100 million over the next decade to search for signs that humans are not alone in the universe. NASA, which sometimes struggles to fund ambitious space projects like the recent visit to Pluto, does not spend much time looking for aliens.
Milner, who is named after Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, was joined by Stephen Hawking at a press conference announcing the project called Breakthrough Listen. “We’re committed to bringing the Silicon Valley approach to the search for intelligent life in the universe,” he said in a statement. “Our approach to data will be open and taking advantage of the problem-solving power of social networks.”
He did not say whether the Silicon Valley approach involved coaxing extraterrestrials to Earth by offering them nap rooms and free snacks, or whether his scientists plan to design an app that makes it easier for aliens to reach out (or maybe that was what Yo was really about all along?). Milner told Time magazine that it makes no sense that Earth is a random accident. How could the universe’s teeming resources and capital go untapped? “If we were alone it would be such a waste of real estate.”