I can’t believe the grief this guy is taking, and the way that he is being portrayed as an “alien-hunting school employee” who downloaded “software that seeks out alien life forms” and who “searched for UFOs, aliens and creatures from outer space.” They’re making the guy sound like a loon.
SETI@home is a respected program hosted by the University of California at Berkeley that analyzes radio signals from the Arecibo radio telescope. It was the one of the first distributed network programs ever developed.
The program is no more harmful than a screensaver program. How many computer cycles has this school district wasted over the years drawing Moire diagrams, bouncing a ball, or drawing pipes on people’s idle screens?
It was also not an uncommon practice. The wikipedia entry indicates that as of 2005, approximately one third of the processing of the software was performed on work or school based machines.
The current version of the program uses the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC), which also allows users to contribute to other distributed computing projects at the same time as running SETI@home, including the cancer research that the quoted superintendent reportedly had no issue with.