AI is already being used to find aliens, if aliens there be, which might turn out to be ironic if said aliens turn out to AI-driven robots when we do.
AI is being harnessed to sift through tons and tons of images and data, looking for patterns that will enable SETI to have that ‘aha’ moment, but it already has unforeseen consequences. If you ask an AI-driven system to look for certain shapes, it will do exactly that.
Recently an AI found first identified a square on the dwarf planet Ceres and the researchers nodded and said ‘aha’, but then the neural network said ‘but wait, there’s a triangle around the square’. Then the humans said, ‘look, there is indeed a triangle around the square. We told you that AI would help us find aliens.’ So resources were harnessed, and images were examined further. But in the end, it was not really what it seemed and a dead end.
Of course, this is one example, and the enormity of the project demands that AI plays its part in helping us find aliens.
This leads us to another big question, which the US Government is hopefully about to help with, are aliens already amongst us? And if we finally find ourselves face to face, will we actually find ourselves looking at a hugely advanced AI being?
Certainly, the revelations that we are finally confident that the US is about to unveil might give us some new examples of UFOs to ponder. And among the thousands of sightings, there are still some that senior military officials are baffled – and a little scared – by.
This, from 1947, sums up the official view:
‘The Federal Bureau of Investigation was told by a branch of the US military that “it was not entirely impossible that the objects sighted may possibly be ships from another planet such as Mars.”’
So, that’s possibly clear. Or even, possibly impossibly unclear.
The question about what we will meet when we find aliens and say hello is impossible to answer, and we can only guess.
Some, like Stephen Hawking, believe meeting aliens would be a disaster. They are going to be way more advanced than us. And, anyway, look at what we have become and done to our planet. Would you want to meet us?
Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahnerman goes further. First, he believes that AI will squash humanity quite soon and “clearly AI is going to win (against humanity), it is not even close.” Presumably, this will happen in the way that parents declare an end to playtime. They gather up the toys, pick up the spoilt screaming brats and restore order to the world.
Kahnerman and others believe, too, that when we find aliens, they will be AI and that AI will probably be vastly superior to ours. How they treat our planet and how we get used to the idea are the issues that interest Kahnerman. Will Earth be looked upon as a rather cute garden, or will it simply be harvested and then burnt?
Either way, when and if we do find aliens, it makes rather inconvenient sense that it will be a meeting of AI minds, not human and alien.
Either way, remember to keep your Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with you (and your towel). And Don’t Panic.