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AI Boosts Search for Extraterrestrial Life

The president and CEO of the US-based scientific organization Seti Foundation is Mr. DiamondBill Diamond says our galaxy has approximately ten and fifty billion potential livable worlds. It makes his work challenging.

The search for alien intelligence is abbreviated as “Seti” in words. The goal of Seti is to search for proof of existence and intelligence in science and technology outside of our solar system. Yet, he claims this is essentially a “needle in a desert” situation.

He said that We may be searching for something extremely uncommon and challenging to separate from the background events we view.

But the quest is being assisted by innovative instruments. The search for alien life is changing due to artificial intelligence’s (AI) capacity to manage vast amounts of information and identify abnormalities.

One such effort is a collaboration between the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in New Mexico, United States, and the Seti Institute. This government laboratory uses radio waves to study astronomical objects like planets, stars, and asteroids.

How AI is helping the search for extraterrestrial life

In parallel, Seti is developing an AI-driven software framework for the Very Large Array, the observatory’s central facility. Constructed from 1973 to 1981, the VLA consists of 28 massive, 25-meter-diameter dish antennas dispersed around a desert plain. Think of satellite dishes as large as those seen on residential properties.

When the AI is fully functional, it can process two terabytes (TB) of data every second. The average modern laptop nowadays has roughly 1TB storage capacity in total.

According to Mr. Diamond, as his institute continues its search for alien life, the growing usage of artificial intelligence has proven “indispensable.”

He mentions how AI enables the search for novel radio waveforms from alien civilizations. He says that in the past, Seti has searched for narrowband transmissions that resemble those used by people.

“However, it was constantly the possibility that wideband [radio] was being used by an advanced alien technology. Assuming this situation, it wouldn’t appear like anything on the screen, and our conventional techniques wouldn’t function.”

However, according to Mr. Diamond, artificial intelligence’s ability to process vast volumes of data makes it feasible to accumulate numerous “snapshots” of this cold audio image over time and begin to identify patterns. He stated that This is a method to put on something fresh to search for.

Seti also works on a project called Breakthrough Listen. This project is supported by over 100 million pounds in private-sector funding. It searches a million stars and 100 galaxies in an array of electromagnetic and optical bands for signs of modern species.

A student, Peter Ma, from the University of Toronto, involved in the project, has created a novel artificial intelligence system that analyzes telescope data and differentiates between potential alien signals and interference.

To accomplish this, his team first simulated the two kinds of noise and then trained their artificial intelligence to distinguish among them.

For instance, according to Mr. Ma, an extraterrestrial signal would “just emerge if we look the telescopes towards it… and disappears if we look away”.

The initiative has already found eight possible extraterrestrial signals that were missed by conventional research. Mr. Ma thinks the findings are likely false positives because they have yet to be confirmed.

Something out there': How a U of T undergrad uses AI to search for aliens | University of Toronto

Additionally, AI is being used to look for more commonplace, small signals of life.

If all goes according to plan, Mars’ Jezero Crater samples will be returned to Earth in a few years by NASA’s Perseverance rover, which began sampling the planet’s surface last year.

Scientists believe the rover’s Sherlock equipment has discovered organic molecules that shine in UV light. Non-biological processes can also produce organic chemicals, but it’s still unclear whether they are remnants of earlier life on Earth.

However, a fresh study by the Carnegie Institution for Science that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze rock samples for traces of past or present life could change this.

The researchers discovered that artificial intelligence has an accuracy of around 90% in differentiating between formerly live and non-living stuff.

According to co-lead researcher Dr. Robert Hazen, this is an entirely new method of looking for molecular biological signals.

Using machine learning, we analyze massive amounts of data from an analytical approach that yields half a million information points per sample. Therefore, we’re looking for minute trends in the distributions of molecules.

Initially, the plan is to study prehistoric Earth materials and some meteorite samples from Mars. However, Mr. Hazen states, “We could, for instance, launch an instrument by the plume of Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, or land a precisely planned satellite on Mars.”

It’s still early, and before any encouraging artificial intelligence discoveries are proclaimed loudly, they must first be confirmed by additional observations or physics-based models. But the likelihood of finding aliens, if any, is growing as evidence is gathered and examined.

However, Mr. Diamond notes that for the time being, the magnitude of the effort counts as progress rather than the final product.


Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff at AI Surge is a dedicated team of experts led by Paul Robins, boasting a combined experience of over 7 years in Computer Science, AI, emerging technologies, and online publishing. Our commitment is to bring you authoritative insights into the forefront of artificial intelligence.


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