In recent years, the development trend of artificial intelligence (AI) is very rapid, and breakthroughs have been made in various disciplines. As the famous Chinese scholar Zhou Haizhong once predicted: “with the progress of science and technology, the era of artificial intelligence is coming; at that time, artificial intelligence technology will be widely used in various disciplines and will produce unexpected results.” Now, the scientific community is using artificial intelligence technology to explore extraterrestrial civilization (SETI).

Extraterrestrial civilization generally refers to intelligent life that exists outside the earth and has developed to a certain degree of civilization (commonly known as “aliens”). In order to explore extraterrestrial civilization, NASA cooperates with technology companies such as Intel, Google and IBM to develop advanced artificial intelligence technologies that can be used to analyze data and find aliens. Of course, it is not to say that using artificial intelligence technology to “directly watch” aliens; Instead, we analyze the data obtained by space probes and astronomical telescopes to identify the images of extraterrestrial planets, study the geological structure and chemical properties, and see if there are the basic conditions for the existence of intelligent life, so as to explore the results more deeply.

There are about 100 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy; According to Kepler’s observations, a quarter of the stars have at least one earth like planet the size of the earth with life. The Milky way is indeed quite large, beyond our human imagination; It takes us a long time to analyze the data obtained by space probes and telescopes. With the progress of science and technology and the increase of exploration in the future, more and more data will be obtained; For scientists, the workload will be greater and greater. Therefore, some people believe that using artificial intelligence technology to analyze massive data is indeed a better exploration method of extraterrestrial civilization.

From the current situation, we will get more data in the future. These data will also expose some details of extraterrestrial planets deep in the universe to us. It’s hard to say whether there will be life or even aliens on extraterrestrial planets, but we don’t rule out such a possibility. In computer simulation, scientists believe that extraterrestrial civilization and earth civilization are the same. They both need to consume resources and emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, resulting in the increasingly serious problem of greenhouse effect. In addition, we know from the algorithm that the expansion of the universe continues, and some scenes in the depths of the universe will be farther and farther away from us; This may also be the main reason why we humans have not found aliens at present.

Not long ago, Luciani volkwitz, a famous American Astrobiologist, described a method based on artificial intelligence, namely “search in case of signal unknowability”, at a symposium entitled “decrypting alien intelligence”. She explained that this means using machine learning methods to view any data sets without predetermined categories, rather than allowing data clusters to enter their “natural categories”; Then, the outliers are distinguished by software. These outliers may be the target of additional investigations. Facts have proved that researchers exploring extraterrestrial civilizations believe that artificial intelligence technology may be useful for their work, because machine learning can find differences well. Martin Rees, a famous British astrophysicist, shared similar ideas at the seminar. “Artificial intelligence will promote the development of astronomy,” he said

In order to avoid the human centered view in the exploration of extraterrestrial civilization, we need to consider how to encode ideas about differences into artificial intelligence algorithms and how to shape the results. This is essential for discovering and identifying intelligent life. We may not be able to avoid the bias in the search engines and search strategies explored by extraterrestrial civilizations, or encode them into artificial intelligence algorithms. But through the cooperation between scientists and social scientists, we can think critically about how to conceptualize these differences. Therefore, an important interdisciplinary approach will help us understand the views or ideas containing differences and examine how they affect the possibilities and limitations of extraterrestrial civilization exploration. In addition, some people believe that extraterrestrial civilization has already mastered super artificial intelligence technology, and the earth civilization will not be able to find aliens until it develops strong artificial intelligence in the future.

The existence of extraterrestrial civilization has been deeply perplexing the scientific community. Until today’s era of artificial intelligence, we have no ability to directly detect any celestial body outside the solar system. We can only analyze the data obtained by space probes and astronomical telescopes on earth through artificial intelligence technology to find the trace of aliens. It can be seen that the current use of artificial intelligence technology to explore extraterrestrial civilization is mainly through the method of analyzing data. It is reported that China’s “heavenly eye” (fast) may have searched for data on extraterrestrial civilization, but it will take time to identify it. In fact, it is unrealistic to be too optimistic about the exploration of extraterrestrial civilization, and it is groundless to be too pessimistic.

Wen / Zhang Jian (author: Department of bioengineering, California Institute of technology, USA)

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