Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tech entrepreneur Yuri Milner are pushing the search for extraterrestrial life into higher gear.

The pair said Monday the $100 million "Breakthrough Initiatives" program funded by Milner will harness computer power as never before in a search of the heavens.

"We are intelligent, we are alive, we must know," said Hawking, who warned of the potential danger of contacting aliens.

The program will involve millions working in tandem by donating spare computing power to a worldwide network.

Milner said it will be the widest search ever and generate data in one day that previously would have taken one year.

Hawking is one of the world's most eminent scientists. Milner is a Russian-born billionaire who was an early investor in a number of Internet-based companies.