As the search for extraterrestrial continues in full swing, a top neuropsychologist has warned that looking for alien life using artificial intelligence (AI) could turn humans crazy. Gabriel De la Torre, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Cádiz, Spain, believes that something extraterrestrial has been discovered if an AI detects something, or sometimes anything.
Cognitive biases do the trick
Humans are prone to cognitive biases that trick us seeing objects in stuff, whether as human fossils or Mars, or an alien statue in the sky. This peculiar phenomenon is called pareidolia, and it is the weird capability of the human brain to form familiar figures on unfamiliar patterns.
If artificial intelligence tools find these kinds of objects in distant planets, people may come to the conclusion that alien life has been found, as there is a common conception that AI is not prone to errors.
During the research, Torre used a series of photos taken from the Occrato Crater by NASA's Dawn Probe. These photos were later shown to 163 participants, and most of them identified alleged alien signatures in blobs, squares or triangles spotted in the space body.
"We wanted to investigate how the search for techno-signatures or oddities might be influenced by our cognitive skills and consciousness, and whether artificial intelligence could help or not in this task. Both people and artificial intelligence detected a square structure in the images, but the AI also identified a triangle. And when the triangular option was shown to humans, the percentage of persons claiming to see it also increased significantly," wrote Torre in his study paper published in the journal Acta Astronautica.
Aliens to be discovered soon?
A few months back, NASA chief scientist Dr Jim Green had predicted that alien life, at least in its very microbial form would be discovered by 2021. Green believes that extraterrestrials will be discovered on Mars by either ESA or NASA during their upcoming missions. The NASA scientist also made it clear that humans are not yet prepared enough to accept facts surrounding extraterrestrial existence.