Artificial intelligence has identified a rectangular structure with a triangle inscribed inside one of the craters on the dwarf planet Ceres. The result of this visual experiment casts doubt on the usefulness of such algorithms for alien life search projects like SETI.
Ceres is the dwarf planet closest to the Sun, which gained fame a few years ago thanks to one of its craters, Occutor , in which astronomers noticed some bright spots. Their mystery was uncovered by the NASA Down probe, which became close to Ceres and saw that they consist of volcanic ice and salt deposits.
In one of these spots, researchers from the University of Cadiz saw strange geometric shapes. This led them to conduct an experiment: to compare how humans and machines recognize planetary images in order to understand whether AI is able to detect the “techno-signatures” of probable extraterrestrial civilizations, EurekAlert reports.
A team of neuropsychologists invited 163 volunteers who did not study astronomy to determine what they see in the images of the crater. Then the artificial vision system, based on a convolutional neural network and trained to recognize geometric shapes, did the same.
Both people and AI noticed a rectangular structure in the image, but AI also saw a triangle there, scientists said. And when people were told about the triangle, the percentage of those who saw it increased significantly.
Researchers themselves believe that this is only a play of light and shadow, although they are not sure about it to the end. So far, they recommend not introducing AI into the program for finding signals from extraterrestrial civilizations like SETI. Despite its huge potential, AI can lead people astray by noticing something impossible or missing.
But there is another side to the problem. “If a neural network identifies something that our mind cannot understand or accept, will it be able in the future to go beyond our consciousness and open the door to that reality for which we are not ready? What if the rectangle and triangle in the crater on Ceres are of artificial origin? ”, the scientists ask.
So far, the search for extraterrestrial civilizations is without AI. So, the breakthrough project of Yuri Milner last year, concluded an agreement with a complex of ground-based VERITAS telescopes-reflectors. Astronomers will look for pulses of a few nanoseconds duration, which indicate the presence of space beacons.