According to Science, theoretical physicist Claudius Gros of Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany has proposed in an essay published last month in Astrophysics and Space Science that as we detect Earth-like planets void of life, we should send artificially intelligent probes to seed them with Earth's microbes.
Q: How would AI facilitate the process?
A: AI is important because we will not be around to direct anything once the probes arrive at a planet. The robots will have to decide if a certain planet should receive microbes and the chance to evolve life. The AI would be aboard the Genesis probe, which would only be about the size of a smartphone. And the probe would be sent to an exoplanet using solar sails to accelerate, similar to the Breakthrough Starshot mission, which plans to send probes to Alpha Centauri in search of life. Once the probe arrives, it would fall into orbit around the planet and, after double checking the planet was lifeless, begin the seeding process. Microbes would be inside small capsules, only millimeters long, and shot down to the exoplanet’s surface. The capsule would crash land, but the AI would be able to calculate an angle to shoot them at so the landing wouldn’t be lethal.
First, the AI would seed with photosynthesizing microbes. These would make oxygen accumulate in the atmosphere so that other kinds of life, like animals, could live there. When oxygen levels were high enough, which the probe would measure from orbit, eukaryotic microbes—which have more specialized cell machinery and make up multicellular life—would be sent down, too. Then, the probe would stop. That is where evolution would begin on a planet, and over millions of years, there might be many kinds of alien plants and animals.
|"We're going to get out of ISS as quickly as we can."|
|Boeing and SpaceX Chosen by NASA|
|"A spacecraft may be possible that could maintain a steady acceleration into and through interstellar space without the need to carry along propellants."|
|Moon Express: Going Back to the Moon to Mine Its Resources|
|Crowd-Funded Space Program Successful|
|"It’s appealing to imagine a world where artificial wombs grow babies."|
|"Frozen brains could be thawed and inserted into a donor body."|
|"Have you ever pondered why we itch in the first place?"|
|Google's Self-Driving Cars Giving Rides to the Public|
|"Academics who study basic income said the pilot gives a chance to see how the idea plays in a changed economy."|
|"You look in the mirror and see your body and your face and you think that’s you—but that’s really just the machine you’re riding in."|
|"This created a bubble, and like housing, that bubble has now burst."|
|Head Transplant Hailed a Success|
|Religious Loophole to Turn Lights On and Off During Shabbat|
|Where AI is Currently At|
|"Super-detailed scans of actual human brains that run as models on computers"|