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(no subject)
2012
unknownj
AI to help Martian Exploration

Upon examination of this article, I'm at a loss to understand the merit of such a project. The system is capable of picking out the outline of a hill - this is not a step forward. First year computer scientists can do this using a simple matrix which highlights horizontal edges. It takes about ten seconds to do, and is of approximately no use whatsoever.

A rover on the surface of mars has no use for data on any objects on the horizon. Either the horizon is far away, in which case the rover lacks the range to reach it, or it is a nearby edge of a crater, in which case it will be a) too steep to traverse and b) too dangerous to go near on some sort of auto-pilot.

It takes between 4 and 20 minutes for radio signals to be transmitted between Mars and the Earth. There will always be scientists who will want to examine data from the rover first-hand - at what point will AI be required to take control when a human can do the job better, at no additional cost?

This system proposes that the saturation of different rocks might make them more interesting, and forms a map of the surrounding area based on promising areas of interest. But at a cost of less than an hour, a human team could decide what is really interesting themselves, and manually instruct the rover to investigate that instead.

An AI decision will always be less informed than a human one, because humans have access to exactly the same data, as well as an intuitive understanding of what they are looking for. It only takes an hour to bounce messages back and forth, has exploration really become so impatient that we can't even wait that long now?

The only time I can foresee such technology being required would be if we sent probes to Mars which could fly through the atmosphere. Those would need to keep track of the horizon, and have some means of determining their own position. Then again, I believe the USA already has such a device, that well known tool of exploration, the Cruise Missile.

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