Home / News / World /  Can AI listen to signals sent by Aliens? Here's what study shows

The existence of aliens has always intrigued us and for decades, humans have put a lot of research into the topic. And in such an endavour, artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to find whether alien really exists. The study is known as search for extraterrestrial intelligence, known as SETI, where AI is trying to locate electromagnetic-radiation signals coming from a technologically advanced civilization in a far-away solar system. Apparently, telescopes have been set up from hills of West Virginia to the flats of rural Australia in a bid to listen to such signals. 

“It is a new era for SETI research that is opening up thanks to machine-learning technology," says Franck Marchis, a planetary astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, as reported by the scientific journal Nature. 

However, the biggest problem the research is facing right now is big data is relatively new for SETI. Hence, these searches yield a blizzard of data — including false positives produced by Earthly interference from mobile phones, GPS and other aspects of modern life.

“The biggest challenge for us in looking for SETI signals is not at this point getting the data," says Sofia Sheikh, an astronomer at the SETI Institute. “The difficult part is differentiating signals from human or Earth technology from the kind of signals we’d be looking for from technology somewhere else out in the Galaxy."

An alternative to this using algorithms that look for signals matching what astronomers think alien beacons could look like. And the way to do this is Machine Learning (ML). 

Machine-learning algorithms are trained on large amounts of data and can learn to recognize features that are characteristic of Earthly interference, making them very good at filtering out the noise. “Machine learning is also good at picking up candidate extraterrestrial signals that don’t fall into conventional categories and so might have been missed by earlier methods, "Dan Werthimer, a SETI scientist at the University of California, Berkeley told Nature.

“We can’t always be anticipating what ET might send to us," Peter Ma, a mathematician and physicist at the University of Toronto, Canada, and lead author of today’s paper, agrees with Werthimer. 

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