Peter Ma, a Talented Student Uses AI to look for aliens
There’s no person on the planet Earth who hasn't considered the possibility of life outside our planet. There are many intriguing theories about extraterrestrial life and UFOs that people can’t just simply ignore. Peter Ma is one of such enthusiastic people who is trying to find proof of extraterrestrial life. He has already created an algorithm for that purpose. So, stay here to learn more about how he got involved in the search for aliens and what he has done so far.
When did Peter Ma get interested in aliens
It all started when he was in high school, precisely when he was in Grade 11. He showed a great interest in computer science during his high school education. He completed all his homework assignments in IT much faster than his peers. This left him more time to learn more about computer science.
So, for one of his school assignments, he chose aliens. Why aliens? Astronomy was also his field of interest because one of his favorite hobbies was looking through the telescope and observing the stars.
For that project, he used Berkley’s SETI open-source data to create an algorithm that searches for intelligent life outside the Earth. Upon completing his school project, he reached the Berkley’s SETI lab, and they offered him a chance to spend his summer holidays working at their lab.
Summer job at Berkley’s SETI lab
One cannot argue that summer spent doing something you enjoy is a waste of time. Peter Ma was thrilled to spend his days off at Berkley’s lab with scientists who are searching for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).
He saw the potential of machine learning and how it could be implemented into the SETI lab. With other undergrads, he worked on moving their search algorithms to cloud services, especially Google Cloud. This will expand the capability of the search for extraterrestrial life.
How does it look like to search extraterrestrials with the help of AI
In one of his interviews, Peter Ma explained that to look for extraterrestrials means looking for signals that would show signs of extraterrestrial life. In other words, they use radio telescopes when searching for radio signals. However, they must distinguish radio signals that our devices transmit, because that’s how they work.
So, they look for narrowbands, tiny and small signals. When they spot that signal with a radio telescope, they need to analyze it. First, after noticing the signal, they move the telescope away from the star, and if the signal is still there, it means that it's a signal coming from our planet. This means that the signal for extraterrestrial life mustn’t be background noise.
It just seems that this search is simple. Humans can notice those signals with a good training, but it’s difficult to train computers to look for signals, because such signals could be in any shape. He hopes that his algorithm will solve this problem.
What have they discovered so far with his AI for tracking aliens
So far, they have discovered eight promising signals that show signs of extraterrestrial life. Those signals haven’t been previously identified. This proved that AI algorithms largely improved their search for extraterrestrial intelligent life.
These signals were discovered in 2016 and 2017, and couldn’t be found in 2022. So, their search still continues to prove that those signals were from aliens. With his algorithm, they are able to work with 64 telescopes at the same time. Moreover, the Breakthrough Listener’s goal is to search for radio signals among the closest million stars.
Keeping our fingers crossed
It’s great to see that AI is also used in science in order to help scientists in their searches. Peter Ma is surely a talented young man with a clearly defined vision of his earthly quest. We can just keep our fingers crossed and wish Peter Ma and Berkley’s SETI lab team good luck with their quest in proving the existence of extraterrestrial intelligent life.