Machine learning could turbocharge the search for extraterrestrial intelligence

A greenish version of an astrophotography picture
Image: Dylan O’Donnell

The field of SETI, or the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, is accelerating to new heights thanks to developments in machine learning.

In a paper published last week in Nature Astronomy, a team of researchers led by Peter Ma of the University of Toronto shared a machine learning method for digging through data from the Breakthrough Listen project to identify signals that could be potential technosignatures — that is, indications of technological complexity that suggest an intelligent alien civilization.

“I think it’s a very important question to be asking, as humanity: is there anyone else out there?” Ma told The Verge.


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