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    Default Re: A.I. is Progressing Faster Than You Think!


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    Default Re: A.I. is Progressing Faster Than You Think!

    • Should robots have rights? | Yann LeCun and Lex Fridman:
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    Default Re: A.I. is Progressing Faster Than You Think!

    The Challenge of Being Human in the Age of AI

    Reason is our primary means of understanding the world. How does that change if machines think?

    The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has called for “a bill of rights” to protect Americans in what is becoming “an AI-powered world.” The concerns about AI are well-known and well-founded: that it will violate privacy and compromise transparency, and that biased input data will yield biased outcomes, including in fields essential to individual and societal flourishing such as medicine, law enforcement, hiring and loans.
    But AI will compel even more fundamental change: It will challenge the primacy of human reason. For all of history, humans have sought to understand reality and our role in it. Since the Enlightenment, we have considered our reason—our ability to investigate, understand and elaborate—our primary means of explaining the world, and by explaining it, contributing to it. For the past 300 years, in what historians have come to call the Age of Reason, we have conducted ourselves accordingly; exploring, experimenting, inventing and building.

    To Read the Full Story


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    Default Re: A.I. is Progressing Faster Than You Think!


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    Default Re: A.I. is Progressing Faster Than You Think!

    • Google’s "Selfish Ledger" is an Unsettling vision of Silicon Valley Social Engineering

    This internal video from 2016 shows a Google concept for how total data collection could reshape society ... by Vlad Savov@vladsavov

    GoogleGoogle has built a multibillion-dollar business out of knowing everything about its users. Now, a video produced within Google and obtained by The Verge offers a stunningly ambitious and unsettling look at how some at the company envision using that information in the future.

    The video was made in late 2016 by Nick Foster, the head of design at X (formerly Google X) and a co-founder of the Near Future Laboratory. The video, shared internally within Google, imagines a future of total data collection, where Google helps nudge users into alignment with their goals, custom-prints personalized devices to collect more data, and even guides the behavior of entire populations to solve global problems like poverty and disease.

    When reached for comment on the video, an X spokesperson provided the following statement to The Verge:
    “We understand if this is disturbing -- it is designed to be. This is a thought-experiment by the Design team from years ago that uses a technique known as ‘speculative design’ to explore uncomfortable ideas and concepts in order to provoke discussion and debate. It’s not related to any current or future products.”


    All the data collected by your devices, the so-called ledger, is presented as a bundle of information that can be passed on to other users for the betterment of society. Titled The Selfish Ledger, the 9-minute film starts off with a history of Lamarckian epigenetics, which are broadly concerned with the passing on of traits acquired during an organism’s lifetime. Narrating the video, Foster acknowledges that the theory may have been discredited when it comes to genetics but says it provides a useful metaphor for user data. (The title is an homage to Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene.) The way we use our phones creates “a constantly evolving representation of who we are,” which Foster terms a “ledger,” positing that these data profiles could be built up, used to modify behaviors, and transferred from one user to another:
    “User-centered design principles have dominated the world of computing for many decades, but what if we looked at things a little differently? What if the ledger could be given a volition or purpose rather than simply acting as a historical reference? What if we focused on creating a richer ledger by introducing more sources of information? What if we thought of ourselves not as the owners of this information, but as custodians, transient carriers, or caretakers?”
    The so-called ledger of our device use — the data on our “actions, decisions, preferences, movement, and relationships” — is something that could conceivably be passed on to other users much as genetic information is passed on through the generations, Foster says.




    Resolutions by Google, the concept for a system-wide setting that lets users pick a broad goal and then directs their everyday actions toward it. BuildingBuilding on the ledger idea, the middle section of the video presents a conceptual Resolutions by Google system, in which Google prompts users to select a life goal and then guides them toward it in every interaction they have with their phone. The examples, which would “reflect Google’s values as an organization,” include urging you to try a more environmentally friendly option when hailing an Uber or directing you to buy locally grown produce from Safeway.



    An example of a Google Resolution superimposing itself atop a grocery store’s shopping app, suggesting a choice that aligns with the user’s expressed goal. Of course, the concept is premised on Google having access to a huge amount of user data and decisions. Privacy concerns or potential negative externalities are never mentioned in the video. The ledger’s demand for ever more data might be the most unnerving aspect of the presentation.

    Foster envisions a future where “the notion of a goal-driven ledger becomes more palatable” and “suggestions may be converted not by the user but by the ledger itself.” This is where the Black Mirror undertones come to the fore, with the ledger actively seeking to fill gaps in its knowledge and even selecting data-harvesting products to buy that it thinks may appeal to the user. The example given in the video is a bathroom scale because the ledger doesn’t yet know how much its user weighs. The video then takes a further turn toward anxiety-inducing sci-fi, imagining that the ledger may become so astute as to propose and 3D-print its own designs. Welcome home, Dave, I built you a scale.



    A conceptual cloud processing node that is analyzing user information and determining the absence of a relevant data point; in this case, user weight. Foster’s vision of the ledger goes beyond a tool for self-improvement. The system would be able to “plug gaps in its knowledge and refine its model of human behavior” — not just your particular behavior or mine, but that of the entire human species. “By thinking of user data as multigenerational,” explains Foster, “it becomes possible for emerging users to benefit from the preceding generation’s behaviors and decisions.” Foster imagines mining the database of human behavior for patterns, “sequencing” it like the human genome, and making “increasingly accurate predictions about decisions and future behaviours.”

    “As cycles of collection and comparison extend,” concludes Foster, “it may be possible to develop a species-level understanding of complex issues such as depression, health, and poverty.”




    A central tenet of the ledger is the accumulation of as much data as possible, with the hope that at some point, it will yield insights about major global problems. Granted,Granted, Foster’s job is to lead design at X, Google’s “moonshot factory” with inherently futuristic goals, and the ledger concept borders on science fiction — but it aligns almost perfectly with attitudes expressed in Google’s existing products. Google Photos already presumes to know what you’ll consider life highlights, proposing entire albums on the basis of its AI interpretations. Google Maps and the Google Assistant both make suggestions based on information they have about your usual location and habits. The trend with all of these services has been toward greater inquisitiveness and assertiveness on Google’s part. Even email compositions are being automated in Gmail.

    At a time when the ethics of new technology and AI are entering the broader public discourse, Google continues to be caught unawares by the potential ethical implications and downsides of its products, as seen most recently with its demonstration of the Duplex voice-calling AI at I/O. The outcry over Duplex’s potential to deceive prompted Google to add the promise that its AI will always self-identify as such when calling unsuspecting service workers.

    The Selfish Ledger positions Google as the solver of the world’s most intractable problems, fueled by a distressingly intimate degree of personal information from every user and an ease with guiding the behavior of entire populations. There’s nothing to suggest that this is anything more than a thought exercise inside Google, initiated by an influential executive. But it does provide an illuminating insight into the types of conversations going on within the company that is already the world’s most prolific personal data collector.

    Update: Nick Foster’s title has been updated to include the Near Future Laboratory and X’s response has been moved.
    Last edited by ExomatrixTV; 26th January 2022 at 19:04.
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    Exclamation Re: A.I. is Progressing Faster Than You Think!


    • Transcript Google’s "Selfish Ledger"
    00:20 This man is John-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck. In
    1809, 50 years before Darwin publishedThe Origin of the Species[sic],1 he wrote
    what is widely recognized as the first comprehensive theory of evolution. His
    book, thePhilosophie zoologique, introduced the notion of an internal code2
    withineverylivingthing,which,whenpasseddownthroughsuccessive
    generations, defined the physiological characteristics of a species.

    00:41 At the center of Lamarck's theory laid what he called "the adaptive force."3 He
    believed that the experiences of an organism during its life modified this
    internal code and upon reproduction, this modified version was passed down to
    its young. While it's not biologically accurate and ultimately superseded by
    Darwin's theory of natural selection, the epigenetic theories put forward by
    him4 are beginning to find new homes in unexpected places.
    • LAMARCKIAN USER DATA
    01:13 When we use contemporary technology, a trail of information is created in the
    form of data. When analyzed, it describes our actions, decisions, preferences,
    movement and relationships. This codified version of who we are becomes ever
    more complex, developing, changing, and deforming, based on our actions. In
    this regard, this ledger of our data may be considered a Lamarckian epigenome,
    a constantly evolving representation of who we are.
    • SELFISH GENETICS
    01:53 This is Bill Hamilton, one of the most significant evolutionary theorists of the
    20th century. His work studying the social structures of ants, bees, and wasps
    had a profound effect on our understanding of the role of genes in social
    behaviors such as altruism. He believed and went on to prove that the driving
    force behind evolution was not the individual, but the gene. He stated that the
    ultimate criterion which determines whether a gene will spread is not whether
    the behavior is to the benefit of the behaver, but whether it is to the benefit of
    the gene.

    This is a transcript of an 8-minute videoabout Googles ability to reshape humankind.
    It wasmade internally at Google in 2016 and leaked toThe Vergein 2018.
    For commentary and to view the video, visit this mainstream media link.

    02:28 In the mid 1970s, the British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins built on the
    work of Hamilton and others to popularize the concept of "the selfish gene." In
    his book of the same name, he introduced the notion of a gene which, whilst
    devoid of any motives or will, could be metaphorically and pedagogically
    described as if it were. In this model the individual organism is a transient
    carrier, a survival machine for the gene.

    02:57 User-centered design principles have dominated the world of computing for
    many decades, but what if we looked at things a little differently? What if the
    ledger could be given a volitional purpose, rather than simply acting as an
    historical reference?Whatif wefocused oncreatingaricher ledger by
    introducing more sources of information? What if we thought of ourselves not
    as the owners of this information but as custodians, transient carriers or
    caretakers?
    • EPISOSE 1: IL GRILLO PARLANTE
    03:34 Initially, the notion of a goal-oriented ledger may be user driven. As an
    organization, Google would be responsible for offering suitable targets for a
    user's ledger. Whilst the notion of a "global good" is problematic, topics would
    likely focus on health or environmental impact to reflect Google's values as an
    organization.

    03:53 Once the user selects a volition for their ledger, every interaction may be
    compared to a series of parallel options. If one of these options allows the
    ledger to move closer to its goal, it will be offered up to the user. Over time, by
    selecting these options, the user's behavior may be modified, and the ledger
    moves closer to its target.
    • EPISODE 2: THE QUILL OF CORNELIUS FUDGE
    04:24 As this line of thinking accelerates and the notion of a goal-driven ledger
    becomes more palatable, suggestions may be converted not by the user, but by
    the ledger itself. In this case, the ledger is missing a key data source which it
    requires in order to better understand this user.

    04:39 In order to plug the gap in its knowledge, the ledger begins searching for a
    device which delivers the required data when used. From this list, the ledger
    begins sorting the options most likely to appeal to the user in question.

    04:53 In situations where no suitable product is found, the ledger may investigate a
    bespoke solution. By analyzing historical data, it is increasingly possible to
    discern qualitative information, such as taste and aesthetic sensibility, which
    may be used in the creation of a design proposal.

    05:11 With the advent of technologies such as CNC milling and the emergent
    possibilities of 3-D printing, a custom object may be created to trigger this user's
    interest. In this way, the ledger is able to plug gaps in its knowledge and refine
    its model of human behavior.
    • EPISODE 3: UNUS PRO OMNIBUS ["One for All"]
    05:39 User data has the capability to survive beyond the limits of our biological selves
    in much the same way as genetic code is released and propagated in nature. By
    considering this data through a Lamarckian lens, the codified experiences within
    the ledger become an accumulation of behavioral knowledge throughout the
    life of an individual.

    05:57 By thinking of user data as multigenerational, it becomes possible for emerging
    users to benefit from the preceding generation's behaviors and decisions. As
    new users enter an ecosystem, they begin to create their own trail of data. By
    comparing this emergent ledger with the mass of historical user data, it
    becomes possible to make increasingly accurate predictions about decisions and
    future behaviors. As cycles of collection and comparison and extend, it may be
    possible to develop a species level understanding of complex issues such as
    depression, health and poverty.

    06:35 Our ability to interpret user data, combined with the exponential growth in
    sensor enabled objects, will result in an increasingly detailed account of who we
    are as people. As these streams of information are brought together, the effect
    is multiplied. New patterns become apparent, and new predictions become
    possible.
    • BEHAVIORAL SEQUENCING
    07:04 Since the 1970s, huge efforts have been made in sequencing the human
    genome. Today, after many years of research and billions of data points, that
    sequence is known. By adopting a similar perspective with user data, we may
    begin to better understand its role. Just as the examination of protein structures
    paved the way to genetic sequencing, the mass multigenerational examination
    of actions and results could introduce a model of behavioral sequencing.

    07:30 As gene sequencing yields a comprehensive map of human biology, researchers
    are increasingly able to target parts of the sequence and modify them in order
    to achieve a desired result. As patterns begin to emerge in the behavioral
    sequences, they too may be targeted. The ledger could be given a focus, shifting
    it from a system which not only tracks our behavior but offers direction towards
    a desired result.

    07:58 We are at the very beginning of our journey of understanding in the field of user
    data. By applying our knowledge of epigenetics, inheritance, and memetics to
    this field, we may be able to make mental leaps in our understanding which
    could offer benefits to this generation, to future generations, and the species as
    a whole.

    Written By Nick Foster And David Murphy
    Additional Material Matt Johnson And Tom Moltoni Go / Selfishledger


    Transcript, notes and highlighting byRobert Epstein(@DrREpstein), May 25, 2018.

    1. The correct short version of the title of Darwin’s book isOn the Origin of Species.
    2. Lamarck first published his theory in 1801, and nowhere in Lamarck’s many writings did he say
    anything about an “internal code.” That assertion is completely false.
    3. Lamarck never spoke of an “adaptive force,” and such a concept was not perforce at “the center” of
    his theory.
    4. It is meaningless to say that Lamarck “put forward” “epigenetic theories” since he had no idea of the
    existence of genes. For further information, see:
    Burkhardt, R. (2013). Lamarck, evolution, and the inheritance of acquired characteristics.Genetics, 194,
    793-805.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3730912/
    Lamarck, J.B. (1809).Zoological philosophy: An exposition with regard to the natural history of animals.
    London: Macmillan. (1914 Eng. translation by H. Elliot)https://archive.org/details/ZoologicalPhilosophy
    Machines that know our wants and needs even before we do may be able to twist us to their hidden agendas.
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    Lightbulb Re: A.I. is Progressing Faster Than You Think!



    Quote quote from a government website: "Strictly speaking, there is no First Amendment in cyberspace. There is indeed a “fundamental difference between a private platform refusing to carry your ideas on their property, and a government prohibiting you from speaking your ideas, anywhere, with the threat of prosecution.” 65 Yet when companies dominate the public sphere to the extent that Facebook and Google do, their power to enforce whatever community standards they choose becomes too great. In practice, an opaque system of policing the network platforms has evolved.

    At Google, much as is true in China, there are multiple blacklists excluding identified transgressors from Google accounts, Search autocomplete, YouTube, Google News, AdWords and AdSense. 66 In 2018 Nick Foster, Google’s head of design, spoke of “a future of total data collection” in which a “goal-driven … Selfish Ledger” would enable Google to “nudge users into alignment with their [own] goals, custom-print personalized devices to collect more data, and even guide the behavior of entire “Good Censor,” to limit the impact of users “behaving badly.”68 At both companies, “trust and safety” teams now employ tens of thousands of mostly young content moderators whose thankless task it is to enforce ever more elaborate hate speech rules on an ever-growing torrent of content.

    As one of them described the process, “I was like, ‘I can just block this entire domain, and they won’t be able to serve ads on it?’ And the answer was, ‘Yes.’ I was like, ‘But… I’m in my mid-twenties.’” As another put it, “One depressing part [of the job] is that China did a frighteningly good job of their version of trust and safety.”69 populations to solve global problems like poverty and disease.” 67. unquote
    cheers,
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    January 26th, 2022
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    Default Re: A.I. is Progressing Faster Than You Think!

    • Can You Distinguish A.I. Generated Music?:
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    Default Re: A.I. is Progressing Faster Than You Think!

    • "A.I. will become the global system by 2030." 🖥 - David Icke:

    • "It's Already Too Late, Things Are Getting Serious" | Elon Musk (2022):
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    Default Re: A.I. is Progressing Faster Than You Think!

    • On the Real Future of Work...
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    Default Re: A.I. is Progressing Faster Than You Think!

    This is a clip from a conversation between Lex Fridman and Stuart Russell from Dec 2018.

    Stuart Russell is a professor of computer science at UC Berkeley and a co-author of the book that introduced Lex and millions of other people to AI, called Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach.

    Stuart Russell: The Control Problem of Super-Intelligent AI | AI Podcast Clips
    Full conversation here: Stuart Russell: Long-Term Future of Artificial Intelligence | Lex Fridman Podcast #9
    The only place a perfect right angle ever CAN be, is the mind.

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    Default Re: A.I. is Progressing Faster Than You Think!

    • How far will A.I. go?
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    Default Re: A.I. is Progressing Faster Than You Think!

    • AI is Building Super Guns:
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    • Will Artificial Intelligence Help us Find Evidence of UFOs?


    • Top tech founders and research scientists are now taking UFOs seriously
    “Are we alone in the universe?” is one of humanity’s biggest questions. But now, some of the world’s top scientists and tech companies are setting out to answer an even bigger question: “Are we being visited?”

    This used to be seen as a silly topic for debate, confined to conspiratorial subreddits filled with stories of reptilian alien overlords covertly living among us. But things are starting to change.

    Last year, not only did US president Biden approve a new US government office to study the nature of unidentified flying objects, but a distinguished academic, Professor Avi Loeb — the longest serving chair of Harvard’s Department of Astronomy — launched The Galileo Project, a search for UFOs.

    And one difference this time is that artificial intelligence is being drafted into the search. Tel Aviv-founded AI startup Timbr, for example, has offered its technology — which allows users to interact with complex databases using simple queries — to the project.

    If ET’s out there, AI may finally allow us to spot them.
    Is this really serious?

    Well, serious people from the US government have certainly started to take UFOs a lot more seriously recently. In May last year, Barack Obama admitted that there really are objects moving in our skies that can’t be easily explained away: “There’s footage and records of objects in the skies, that we don’t know exactly what they are, we can’t explain how they moved, their trajectory… They did not have an easily explainable pattern.”

    A month later, the US government released a report confirming that US military personnel have encountered things in the sky that appeared to be real, physical objects that display “advanced technology”.

    Christopher Mellon, a former senior US defence official, commented that not only are UFOs a national security threat, but that they are unlikely to represent advanced Chinese, Russian or US technology. “That leaves you wondering then what hypothesis best fits the facts and frankly the alien hypothesis fits the facts,” he said.

    By the end of 2021, President Biden signed off on a new US government office that will try to analyse the nature of what these UFOs really are, with national security in mind.
    The devil is in the data

    It is not just the government getting in on the action. The Galileo Project describes itself as a privately funded initiative promising to “bring the search for extraterrestrial technological signatures of Extraterrestrial Technological Civilisations from accidental or anecdotal observations and legends into the mainstream of transparent, validated and systematic scientific research”.

    Unlike the long-running Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, which uses antennae to search for radio signals from possible alien neighbours, The Galileo Project is looking for physical objects.
    SETI Aliens
    SETI’s radio antennae

    Loeb plans to build 100 specialised telescopes equipped with wide angle lenses, infrared technology, radio receivers and an audio system. This data will be combined with satellite imagery, to create a more comprehensive and high-resolution picture of our skies than we’ve ever seen before, from above and below.

    And part of the secret of doing this will be an AI system that can make sense of the gargantuan amount of data generated by 100 multi-sensor telescopes recording pictures of the sky 24/7.

    “We will have an artificial intelligence system that will identify whether we are looking at a bird, a drone, an aeroplane or something else,” Loeb tells Sifted.
    Avi Loeb, Galileo Project
    Avi Loeb, chair of Harvard’s Department of Astronomy. Credit: Lotem Loeb
    How will AI know how to identify aliens?

    Tzvi Weitzner, the Tel Aviv-based Timbr’s cofounder and chief strategy officer, says that the project presents a unique challenge for a machine learning algorithm.

    “The use of AI to analyse images is widely known, but in Galileo’s case it is not as simple as training a machine learning algorithm to identify objects, just because we don’t know what we are looking for, or, more exactly, we are looking for objects that are not part of an existing image catalogue that would serve to train a machine learning algorithm,” he tells Sifted.

    Using Timbr’s system, data scientists working with the Galileo Project will be able to systematically refine the algorithm’s understanding of objects that are truly mysterious.

    “I expect that the algorithms used to analyse images shall generate a continuous flow of unexplained objects, described with a set of data from the observations, which will require classification by characteristics (size, shape, colour, location, time, source, etc),” says Weitzner. “Data scientists will be able to easily discover and select the data required to create and train new machine learning algorithms that will further reduce false positives and eventually deliver a ‘clean’ list of observations that cannot be explained as known objects.”

    Weitzner also stresses that his comments don’t reflect the position of Loeb or The Galileo Project, as these workflows are yet to be finalised.
    A big tent

    The Timbr cofounder thinks that investigating the UFO phenomenon is important, even if he doesn’t personally believe in extraterrestrial explanations for sightings.

    “I have always disregarded these kinds of observations (UFO sightings), as errors or, you know, bad data,” he says. “What we can do — and it is very important — is try to explain what we have observed, and to try to not just disregard what we cannot explain.”
    Tzvi Weitnzer, Timbr cofounder
    Tzvi Weitnzer, Timbr cofounder

    Having sceptics like Weitzner on board with The Galileo Project is important to Loeb, who says he is trying to let the evidence do the talking, rather than be dragged into polemic.

    “I have built a big tent, including people that are both advocates for extraterrestrial origins of these objects, and people that are sceptics. I think that it doesn’t matter what you believe in to start with, it’s the evidence that will guide us,” he says. “The way to move forward is to collect evidence, to collect data, the way that the scientific method advocates and not have prejudice.”

    Alongside big names from the worlds of academia and astrophysics, The Galileo Project is also affiliated with data analytics startup ThoughtAI, tech investor Yoav Kfir from Israel-based VAR Management, and Google software engineer Uriel Perez.

    But despite increasing support from the private sector, Loeb believes that dogma within the scientific world is holding this research back.
    Ridicule

    Despite including renowned critics of the alien hypothesis in The Galileo Project’s team, and focusing on a strictly evidence-based approach, the Harvard astrophysicist has received personal attacks for his interest in investigating UFOs.

    “[Some scientists] were attacking me on social media in ways that are very personal. And that was really unfortunate,” Loeb says. “People are ignoring the scientific method. It’s similar to the way philosophers behaved in the days of Galileo. They refused to look through Galileo’s telescope, they didn’t look at the data. They said, ‘We know that the sun moves around the Earth’, and they put Galileo under house arrest. Today, they would have cancelled him on social media.”

    He believes that the reason for the mainstream dismissal of UFO research is very similar to why people were so offended by Galileo’s ideas that the universe didn’t revolve around the Earth: human exceptionalism. If we are to accept that some other intelligence might have visited us, we have to accept that we might not be the most advanced civilisation out there.

    “I think it has to do primarily with the ego of people. We don’t want to hear about the reality where we are not the smartest,” says Loeb.

    But flying in the face of such a stigmatised field of research, he believes he’s paving the ground for more mainstream scientists to be open about their curiosity: “Some scientists came to me and said, ‘We didn’t have this safe space. We were waiting for it so that we can work on the subject.’”

    Weitzner is one of those who appreciates the rigorous, evidence-based approach that Loeb is bringing to the study of UFOs, seemingly unconcerned about receiving ridicule for having Timbr’s name attached to the project.

    “The scientific community at large may view Galileo as a fringe thing, but this reflects obtuseness… I think that Avi is a really fearless scientist that is willing to go where a few other scientists dare to go,” he says. “I think that it is rather cool that Timbr can somehow help in this endeavour.”
    Why now?

    Loeb is in a rare position in academia: he has the scientific pedigree to be taken seriously, and has achieved enough in his career to not need to worry about his reputation.

    “When I was in the military at a young age they said, ‘You have to put your body on the barbed wire so that other soldiers could pass through,’” he says. “This is a subject that will have a huge impact on humanity. And as a result, I feel that it’s worth putting my body on the barbed wire, so to speak.”

    The Galileo Project’s search for evidence has partly come about as a result of credible UFO sightings in recent years. The most famous is the so-called “TicTac” incident, where top gun pilots David Fravor and Alex Dietrich testified to having encountered a flying, “TicTac-shaped” object that completely outmanoeuvred their fighter jets, with the incident corroborated by radar.
    ufos tic tac david fravor
    Alex Dietrich and David Fravor on 60 Minutes

    Stories like this, where the typical explanations of hallucination don’t seem to fit, are piquing the public interest. A report from Gallup in 2021 showed that four in ten Americans now believe that UFOs are explained by aliens, up from just over three in ten in 2019.

    Loeb’s interest in the topic began after he analysed a large and mysterious interstellar object passing near Earth in 2017 (now known as Oumuamua), and deduced that it was very unlikely to be of natural origin.

    As well as building ground equipment, The Galileo Project is also working on developing a probe with a camera attached. This will be launched into space the next time such an object is spotted in the distance from a telescope, to try and get a clear photo from closer up.
    Not so out-of-this world

    Getting a clear image is crucial, says Loeb, batting away the question of why it is that, when billions of people in the world own mobile phone cameras, no one has yet captured a decent image of a UFO.

    “A million low resolution images are not worth as much as one high resolution image,” he argues. “You can increase the number of cell phones by a factor of 100 — it doesn’t matter — all those images would be taken by an aperture that is only a few millimetres in size and as a result the resolution would be poor and the images would appear fuzzy.”
    An artist’s depiction of Oumuamua

    And what about the argument that, if aliens exist and are able to visit us, why haven’t they made themselves known or tried to communicate with us?

    “Think of how we communicate with ants on the pavement. Are we going to the ants and trying to understand their psychology and trying to communicate? If you operate on a completely different level, there is no communication. So the ants might be frustrated that humans are not stopping in the street and coming to speak with them. They might see some footsteps above them, but I don’t know if they figure out what’s going on,” he responds.

    He also disregards the point that aliens travelling between star systems seems implausible, as our current understanding of physics dictates that light-speed travel is impossible.

    “It [another intelligence] may be using technologies that are way different than what we anticipate,” he says.

    The Galileo Project has received enough funding to build its first telescope, which will be placed on the roof of the Harvard astronomy department (Loeb hopes by April), but still needs more donations to build more telescopes. Loeb says that if people are hoping to donate more than $50k, they should contact him directly.

    Ultimately, he believes the research is less speculative than many areas of scientific study that routinely attract billions of dollars in public funding — such as the search for dark matter — given that it’s estimated there are some 6bn earth-like planets in the Milky Way galaxy alone.

    “What is so speculative about saying, ‘Let’s imagine something like us, or more advanced than us,’? Because half of the sun-like stars have a planet the size of the Earth, roughly the same separation (between star and planet), so you roll the dice about intelligent technological civilisations billions of times in the Milky Way galaxy alone, most of the stars formed a billion years before us, and they could have sent equipment into space, just like we did. I don’t see that as speculative, I think it’s much more down to earth than most of the ideas in theoretical physics right now.”
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