SETI Director Jill Tarter
At a TED talk In 2009, SETI Director Jill Tarter sought to "empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company."
With powerful computers and complex algorithms constantly sifting through terabytes of radio signals, Tarter saw a gap, and a need to put the crowdsourced human brain to greater use in SETI's search for extraterrestrial life.
From her office at SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., Tarter told CNET that when you are looking for a specific pattern or detail, computers are very helpful, but the problem comes when you just don't know exactly what you're looking for.
"When you're trying to find anomalies," Tarter said, "it may be that humans can better help us with that detection problem." A new application called SetiQuest Explore, developed in partnership with SETI, will put more human eyes into the sky, in search of signals from distant worlds.