I quite approve of discussing the Golden Record, and other ways of trying to communicate with any extraterrestrial species. As Carl Sagan explained, it is a powerful opportunity for self-examination. There is, however, one subtlety that you did not note above, or during your very well-presented segment on the show. The Golden Record is not the best way we are making our presence known to the universe. Radio emission, including the show as broadcast by NPR, constantly leak into space. For the last forty years, there have been some radio channels where the Earth outshines the Sun. As part of my graduate studies, I have used the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico as a transmitter that could be detected at the other end of the galaxy, if anyone happens to be in the path of the signal.
Arecibo is of course more often used as receiver, and the SETI program is quite vital in real life as well as in fiction such as Dr. Russell's (although they have not yet found a signal, a paradox noted as early as 1950 by Enrico Fermi). But Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute informs me that the current leakage radiation from the Earth would barely be detected by Arecibo if it were coming from Alpha Centauri, which is the closest star. The most effective message to the stars would be to make a powerful transmitter that transmits in all directions and lasts for many centuries.
Such a long-term project would necessarily become the focus of religious and ethical debates. I personally like the idea, but I am biased by being trained as a radio astronomer. I would like to know the thoughts of others on if it is a good idea to make such a radio beacon.
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