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Our expert voices conversation on "How to look for alien life."

Alien life will be conceived, discovered, investigated, and iterated upon right here on Earth using biotechnology and our best attempt at collective intelligence: the computer and the internet.

To me, life is a system defined by generating, storing, and transmitting critical information albeit imperfectly at times. (Here on Earth that is done with DNA.) Simply put, life is complex and non-linear. With that convention, alien life bears no responsibility to be anything like life on Earth — or even follow our terrestrial rules, but it should break rules in a predictable fashion. We should look for systems that can use energy to fuel work, react and adapt to their environments and transmit information about themselves. These together all hint at life, and all can be generated from within a computer using Earth's biology as both tracing paper and as a spotlight.

Alien life simply awaits modern biotechnology to adapt it to existence beyond a computer. There is little gained in creating life from scratch. Rather, our computers should borrow, adapt, and iterate. Modern biotechnology can attempt parts, genetically recoding existing cells to run molecular programs never imagined, the result of which is a novel system constrained to iterate upon a new set of rules. In other words, new life right here on Earth.

The other voices in the conversation:

Go deeper

Reports: CIA finds "Havana Syndrome" unlikely caused by foreign campaign

CIA Director William Burns testifies during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill last April. Photo: Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

A preliminary CIA report rules out a foreign global campaign as the cause of American and Canadian diplomats affected by a mysterious illness known as "Havana syndrome," per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Some lawmakers had suggested the sometimes debilitating illness was due to directed energy attacks. But CIA officials told the New York Times that most of the 1,000 cases reported to the government could be "explained by environmental causes, undiagnosed medical conditions or stress." This finding has angered some victims, per the NYT.

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 2 far-right "America First" activists

The House panel investigating the Capitol riot, from left; Reps. Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Jamie Raskin on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot issued subpoenas Wednesday for far-right leaders Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, who allegedly encouraged followers to go to D.C. and challenge the 2020 election results.

Why it matters: The action underscores the panel's increasing focus on rallies held ahead of the Capitol attack and how extremists were drawn to former President Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, per the New York Times.

Democrats fail to change Senate rules to pass voting rights bill

Senate Majority Leader during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrats failed Wednesday night to change Senate filibuster rules to pass the voting rights bill, with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voting with Republicans.

The big picture: The failed effort came after Senate Republicans blocked the voting rights measure from coming to a final vote earlier Wednesday.