He points to the increase in the number of exoplanets identified and the increase in computing power:
He chose 2036 as a target year because by then “we will have looked at about a million star systems, and it’s my gut that says a million is the right number to find something.”
Shostak was born in 1943 so, if you take the bet, either he gets the signal by the time he is 93 or he buys you a cup of coffee. If he dies hoping in the meantime, you and his successor will presumably meet for coffee…
The discovery of exoplanets has, of course, massively increased interest in the question, “Are we alone?” …News, “Astronomer bets a cup of coffee that we’ll encounter ET by 2036” at Mind Matters News
Our physics color commentator Rob Sheldon notes that Seth Shostak is relying on Moore’s Law (computer speed doubles every two years or so) and quips, “Because of Moore’s law, you see. Shostak will give you cup in 2036, a teaspoon of coffee in 2030, and one coffee bean in 2026. Now if the aliens don’t show up until 2064, you’ll own Starbucks….”
See also: New sky catalog reveals most likely sites for alien technology. “Exotica” lists phenomena for which conventional natural explanations don’t seem to work well. Advanced extraterrestrials might leave a “technosignature,” visible only as a strange phenomenon in space.