Social & Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology

Last fall, I attended the 2016 Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology conference (SoCIA, pronounced like “social”), a small academic conference on the big questions about life beyond Earth! The conference topic extends across a wide range, from social and ethical questions such as “What are our ethical obligations to alien life?” and “How can we leverage the popularity of astrobiology to improve science education?” to theoretical questions within science such as “What exactly is ‘life’ anyway?” and “What can be predicted about how extraterrestrial life might evolve and develop?”

Sound exciting? Well, that conference was only the start: SoCIA will return April 13-15, 2018, at the University of Reno in Nevada!

You don’t have to be an academic to present. In fact, the organizers would love to have some contributions from science fiction writers who want to tackle and discuss the future of humanity’s contact with alien life! Last year the speakers ranged from astronomers and biologists to social anthropologists and philosophers, plus two keynote speakers: one space simulation veteran and the former NASA historian.

If you’re a writer who’d like to contribute to the cutting edge of debate about the ramifications of real-world contact with extraterrestrial life (microbial or otherwise), consider submitting an abstract! 300 words, due date August 15. There’s no website yet for the 2018 conference1, so email me or leave a comment here and I’ll forward you the full info.2

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  1. Small conference, remember? Last time there were 28 amazing short talks, 30-40 attendees total.
  2. I’ve decided not to throw the organizer’s contact info onto the open internet, but I’m happy to share with anyone who shows signs of human life!

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