Top boffins are going to start using Artificial Intelligence to hunt down aliens in space, and are confident of it doing so with “90% accuracy”.
Researchers at the Carnegie Science Centre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States have managed to create a new AI-based technique, which they are calling the “holy grail of astrobiology”, and are hoping to find out if we are truly not alone in the universe. Led by expert Robert Hazen, the team has now published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences detailing just how the plan on using AI to find aliens.
They state: “We have developed a robust method that combines pyrolysis GC-MS measurements of a wide variety of terrestrial and extra-terrestrial carbonaceous materials with machine-learning-based classification to achieve ~90% accuracy in the differentiation between samples of abiotic origins vs. biotic specimens, including highly-degraded, ancient, biologically-derived samples. Such discrimination points to underlying 'rules of biochemistry' that reflect the Darwinian imperative of biomolecular selection for function.
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“The search for definitive biosignatures – unambiguous markers of past or present life – is a central goal of palaeobiology and astrobiology.”
In short, the new AI tool the experts made has the ability to analyse data given to it to distinguish between human and non-human samples taken from Mars and other planets. The long-term hope is that it is use on new missions to space – such as NASA's trip to Mars next year – with the aim of finding alien life once and for all.
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The report explains that samples collected will be analysed by the AI and split into three categories: It says: “Living things, like shells, teeth, bones, insects, leaves, rice, human hair and cells preserved in fine-grained rock; Remnants of ancient life altered by geological processing (e.g. coal, oil, amber and carbon-rich fossils); and samples with abiotic origins, such as pure laboratory chemicals (e.g., amino acids) and carbon-rich meteorites.
“If AI can easily distinguish biotic from abiotic, as well as modern from ancient life, then what other insights might we gain? For example, could we tease out whether an ancient fossil cell had a nucleus, or was photosynthetic? Could it analyse charred remains and discriminate different kinds of wood from an archaeological site? It’s as if we are just dipping our toes in the water of a vast ocean of possibilities.
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