A scientist recently proposed the establishment of a lottery bond as a means to provide funding for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).
Jacob Haqq-Misra of the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science is the scientist behind this proposal. He details his proposed SETI Lottery Bond in an article in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society:
The SETI Lottery Bond is a fixed rate perpetual bond with a lottery at maturity, where maturity occurs only upon discovery and confirmation of extraterrestrial intelligent life. Investors in the SETI Lottery Bond purchase shares that yield a fixed rate of interest that continues indefinitely until SETI succeeds—at which point a random subset of shares will be awarded a prize from a lottery pool. SETI Lottery Bond shares also are transferable, so that investors can benefact their shares to kin or trade them in secondary markets. The 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.Business Insider notes that what makes these bonds unusual is that they assert with certainty that we will find alien life in the future.
Several of Haqq-Misra’s other projects have made headlines because they relate to contact with intelligent extraterrestrials. In June 2013, he announced the Lone Signal project that allows individuals to send messages into space. The initiative is based on the belief that “crowd sourcing messaging to intelligent life (METI) is the ideal approach to establishing a stable, cohesive, and well-resourced interstellar beacon on Earth.”
Haqq-Misra was also one of the authors of a 2011 paper published in the journal Space Policy calling for the establishment an extraterrestrial communication protocol to improve the likelihood of messages being understood by intelligent extraterrestrials.
Haqq-Misra believes his SETI Lottery Bond plan could generate “several to tens of millions of dollars” annually for SETI research. But Business Insider pessimistically states, “Given our current zero knowledge about alien life, these lottery bonds would probably be a hard sell, but they’re a fun way to help underfunded space research.”