Today’s Top Science Headline: AI’s Superpowers –“No Limit to What AI Can Accomplish from Astronomy to Biotechnology”

 

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New planets found in distant corners of the galaxy. Climate models that may improve our understanding of sea level rise. The emergence of new antimalarial drugs. These scientific advances and discoveries have been in the news in recent months. One of the more recent and famous examples came out of NASA at the end of 2017. The US space agency had announced an eighth planet discovered in the Kepler-90 system (shown above). Scientists had trained a neural network—a computer with a “brain” modeled on the human mind—to re-examine data from Kepler, a space-borne telescope with a four-year mission to seek out new life and new civilizations. Or, more precisely, to find habitable planets where life might just exist.


While representing wildly divergent disciplines, from astronomy to biotechnology, they all have one thing in common: Artificial intelligence played a key role in their scientific discovery reports Singularity Hub.

 

The researchers trained the artificial neural network on a set of 15,000 previously vetted signals until it could identify true planets and false positives 96 percent of the time. It then went to work on weaker signals from nearly 700 star systems with known planets.

The machine detected Kepler 90i—a hot, rocky planet that orbits its sun about every two Earth weeks—through a nearly imperceptible change in brightness captured when a planet passes a star. It also found a sixth Earth-sized planet in the Kepler-80 system.

The application of AI to science is being driven by three great advances in technology, according to Ross King from the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Manchester, leader of a team that developed an artificially intelligent “scientist” called Eve.

Those three advances include much faster computers, big datasets, and improved AI methods, King said. “These advances increasingly give AI superhuman reasoning abilities,” he told Singularity Hub by email.

AI systems can flawlessly remember vast numbers of facts and extract information effortlessly from millions of scientific papers, not to mention exhibit flawless logical reasoning and near-optimal probabilistic reasoning, King says.

AI systems also beat humans when it comes to dealing with huge, diverse amounts of data. That’s partly what attracted a team of glaciologists to turn to machine learning to untangle the factors involved in how heat from Earth’s interior might influence the ice sheet that blankets Greenland.

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