26 / February / 2024 : 17-17

How AI can help to search for extraterrestrial life

There are between 10 and 50 billion potentially habitable worlds in our galaxy, says Bill Diamond. It makes his job rather difficult. New tools are helping the search. The ability of artificial intelligence (AI) to both handle massive datasets - and to spot anomalies - is transforming the hunt for alien intelligence. When operational, the AI will be able to process every bit of data captured - two terabytes (TB) every second. To put that into context, modern laptops now typically have around 1TB of total storage. AI is also being used to try to detect signs of life of a more modest nature, and closer to home.
Already, scientists believe that the rover's Sherloc instrument has detected organic compounds, which glow under ultraviolet light. However, organic compounds can be created by non-biological processes, meaning that it's not yet possible to say whether they derive from past life on the planet. All this could change, though, thanks to new research from the Carnegie Institution for Science, which is using AI to analyze rock samples for signs of present or past life. The team found that the AI is able to distinguish former living and non-living material, with an accuracy of almost 90%.
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