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AI (and a few jokes) will keep crews sane on Mars

Daedalus crew on "Mars"
A crew touches down on the Red Planet in “Mars,” a National Geographic miniseries that delves into the dynamics of future Mars crews. (Credit: National Geographic Channels)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — When the first human explorers head for Mars, they’re likely to have a non-human judging their performance and tweaking their interpersonal relationships when necessary.

NASA and outside researchers are already working on artificial intelligence agents to monitor how future long-duration space crews interact, sort of like the holographic doctor on “Star Trek: Voyager.” But there’ll also be a need for the human touch — in the form of crew members who could serve the roles of social directors or easygoing jokesters.

That’s the upshot of research initiatives discussed over the weekend here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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