We are the IT support team for an Atlanta based company. We are programmers, engineering students, and network geeks. We are all fans of Seti and, since we had a number of servers running night and day we decided to devote some CPU time to the Seti project. In addition to the servers we also use Seti to burn in new PCs.
As new interns come into the IT department we teach them that Seti, and crunching packets, is an important part of the job. All of our interns are engineering students at Georgia Tech and, as world class geeks, they can easily appreciate the possibility of extraterrestrial life. The idea that our CPU time can help with a project of this significance draws us all.
Thoughts about SETI and SETI@home
Extraterrestrial life must exist. The notion that we could be alone in a universe this vast is laughable.
Will we discover it? It seems likely that we have already been discovered ourselves. We are a noisy planet. It also seems likely that there are a number of advanced civilizations in the universe. Perhaps the most advanced have already learned hard lessons about being noisy. Maybe our best chance is picking up a signal from a young species, like ourselves, who are just beginning to get noisy - and to listen.
The benefits? Obviously, a leap ahead in science would be welcome. We'll get there on our own eventually but a leg up would be nice. Religions would have a rough time of it and might be forced to reconstitute themselves into more sensible forms. Some of them might be wiped away altogether. Either way this would be good for us. ETs would cause humanity to be less divisive and come together as one species. Maybe contact would be the catalyst that would ultimately lead us to drop the various distinctions that divide us (race, religion, political affiliations, etc) in favor of a more productive and egalitarian system. This is probably the part of contact I would most look forward to seeing (though it might take many lifetimes after contact) - the day humanity stops bickering amongst itself and decides to pull together as a species.
Send a beacon? That's a real dice roll. What are the odds of our receiving an automated doomsday weapon in return? I have no way to compute those odds so I'd rather be less noisy and just watch and listen until we know more about our neighbors.
We run Seti@Home because we believe in what you're doing and we'd like to help if we can.