An AI has found 8 radio signals that could come from aliens

According to a press release from scientist Peter Ma, machine learning and artificial intelligence have been applied to data collected by the Research Institute for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

Based on the initial results, there is a small chance that the new method has unearthed non-terrestrial “technosignatures”. That would mean she’s achieved SETI’s goal of finding signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.

In a new paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy, Ma describes how he trained a machine learning algorithm on 480 hours of telescope data from 820 stars collected in 2016. The algorithm identified eight signals of interest that the algorithms previous had failed to detect.

Ma, an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, told VICE in an interview that their method completely removes humans from the equation, unlike previous machine learning algorithms applied to SETI data.

“This work relies entirely on the neural network alone, without any traditional algorithm to support it, and has produced results that traditional algorithms have not picked up,” Ma told VICE.

The result of Ma and his colleagues’ experiment is that we now have eight signals that could come from advanced extraterrestrial species. Ma’s algorithm specifically spotted signs that “are narrowband, doppler-drift signals from an extraterrestrial source.” »

Ma chose to use a machine learning neural network because it allows for adaptability not possible with more traditional artificial intelligence algorithms. “The problem is that the nature of an ET signal is not completely known,” he told VICE, “so the approach we’re proposing is to just learn it. »

Although Ma and his colleagues’ algorithm spotted eight unique signals, there is no guarantee that these signals actually originated from extraterrestrial civilizations.

The next step will be for the researchers to study the signals in more detail and determine whether it is worth making follow-up observations of the regions of space where the mysterious signals originated.

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