Artificial Intelligence proved to be quite humanlike in its willingness to see what it wants to see. During the experiment set up by a team of researchers from the University of Cadiz, an artificially intelligent neural network has spotted a mysterious “square structure within a triangle one” in a crater on the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres. The results of the experiment bring doubt as to the usefulness of such algorithms for extraterrestrial life search projects such as SETI.

Ceres is the nearest dwarf planet to the Sun.  It raised some speculations several years ago upon the discovery of one of its craters, named Occator, which – some believed – had been constructed by an extraterrestrial civilization (although most likely this ‘square structure’ is just accident of light and shadow on the surface rather than a building or some other ‘techno signature’ left behind by alien technology).

However, all this heat on Occator gave the researchers an idea to compare the AI’s abilities in analyzing planetary images to those demonstrated by humans and thus determine whether it would be capable of spotting potential alien “techno signatures”.

Both the volunteers and the AI were able to spot the rectangular structure, but the AI detected the triangle as well. As soon, as the volunteers were told about the triangle, the percentage of those who believed it was really there surged significantly.

The new discovery suggests that people could be get excited about potential discoveries spotted by AI, only to find that they are actually meaningless, accidental formations on alien planets. Therefore, the research team does not recommend using AI algorithms in SETI Program and the like.

But there is actually more to the story than that:

‘On the other hand, if AI identifies something our mind cannot understand or accept, could it in the future go beyond our level of consciousness and open doors to reality for which we are not prepared?” – the researchers wonder.