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Combining News Media and AI to Rapidly Identify Flooded Buildings

#artificialintelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has sped up the process of detecting flooded buildings immediately after a large-scale flood, allowing emergency personnel to direct their efforts efficiently. Now, a research group from Tohoku University has created a machine learning (ML) model that uses news media photos to identify flooded buildings accurately within 24 hours of the disaster. Their research was published in the journal Remote Sensing on April 5, 2021. "Our model demonstrates how the rapid reporting of news media can speed up and increase the accuracy of damage mapping activities, accelerating disaster relief and response decisions, said Shunichi Koshimura of Tohoku University's International Research Institute of Disaster Science and co-author of the study. ML and deep learning algorithms are tailored to classify objects through image analysis.


AI and Fake News in Social Media

#artificialintelligence

Trump's recent use of Twitter as his main form of communication with the American people marks a turning point for social media. However, its ability to exchange pictures, video, and stories has allowed fake news and disinformation thrive on these platforms. Disinformation is false information whose goal is to mislead or change public opinion (Merriam-Webster). Today, the most apparent form of disinformation is fake news, and I'm sure you have all interacted with it in the form of Instagram posts with questionable statistics such as global warming deniers or other posts that are now flagged with'false information' tags. Unfortunately, "[s]tudies have shown that fake news spreads six times faster and lasts longer than true news."


Can the ArcLight Cinema in Hollywood Be Saved?

WIRED

The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter. An arc light, or arc lamp, is a source of illumination created when electricity flows between two carbon electrodes. Use of arc lamps dwindled in the 20th century, edged out by incandescents, but for a long time they were a common light source for movie projectors. Mostly this little detail is just a fun fact--something interesting to bring up at parties. But this week, it's a reminder that the history of cinema is long, even when our memories are short--and that the news of ArcLight Cinema shutting down can bring back a flood of recollections, even for people who may not know the theater chain's namesake.


The best smart speakers you can buy

Engadget

When Amazon first introduced Alexa and the Echo speaker six years ago, the idea of talking to a digital assistant wasn't totally novel. Both the iPhone and Android phones had semi-intelligent voice controls -- but with the Echo, Amazon took its first step toward making something like Alexa a constant presence in your home. Since then, Apple and Google have followed suit, and now there's a huge variety of smart speakers available at various price points. As the market exploded, the downsides of having a device that's always listening for a wake word have become increasingly apparent. They can get activated unintentionally, sending private recordings back to monolithic companies to analyze. And even at the best of times, giving more personal information to Amazon, Apple and Google can be a questionable decision. That said, all these companies have made it easier to manage how your data is used -- you can opt out of humans reviewing some of your voice queries, and it's also less complicated to manage and erase your history with various digital assistants, too. The good news is that there's never been a better time to get a smart speaker, particularly if you're a music fan.


Facial recognition systems are deciding your gender for you. Activists say that needs to stop - Coda Story

#artificialintelligence

If you rode the metro in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo in 2018, you might have come across a new kind of advertising. Glowing interactive doors featured content targeted at individuals, according to assumptions made by artificial intelligence based on their appearance. Fitted with facial recognition cameras, the screens made instantaneous decisions about passengers' gender, age and emotional state, then served them ads accordingly. Digital rights groups said the technology violated the rights of trans and non-binary people because it assigned gender to individuals based on the physical shape of their face, potentially making incorrect judgments as to their identity. It also maintained a strictly male-female model of gender, ignoring the existence of non-binary people.


Standard digital camera and AI to monitor soil moisture for affordable smart irrigation

#artificialintelligence

Researchers at UniSA have developed a cost-effective new technique to monitor soil moisture using a standard digital camera and machine learning technology. The United Nations predicts that by 2050 many areas of the planet may not have enough fresh water to meet the demands of agriculture if we continue our current patterns of use. One solution to this global dilemma is the development of more efficient irrigation, central to which is precision monitoring of soil moisture, allowing sensors to guide'smart' irrigation systems to ensure water is applied at the optimum time and rate. Current methods for sensing soil moisture are problematic – buried sensors are susceptible to salts in the substrate and require specialised hardware for connections, while thermal imaging cameras are expensive and can be compromised by climatic conditions such as sunlight intensity, fog, and clouds. Researchers from The University of South Australia and Baghdad's Middle Technical University have developed a cost-effective alternative that may make precision soil monitoring simple and affordable in almost any circumstance.


Israel's first digital bank begins operations, heralding 'artificial intelligence revolution'

#artificialintelligence

The digital bank founded by Prof. Amnon Shashua, among the founders of the self-driving auto-tech company Mobileye, officially began operations on Sunday, promising to shake up the Israeli banking sector and inject badly needed competition. First Digital Bank, Israel's first new banking institution in 43 years, aims to use artificial intelligence and other technology to create a personal ambiance without the actual human contact that comes with neighborhood branches. "Netflix killed off Blockbuster, Spotify disrupted the music industry and Tesla has left Ford and Mitsubishi in the dust. Banking is one of the few industries that hasn't undergone a revolution. Big, long-standing names control the market with too little competition and offer exactly the same products," said First Digital Bank's CEO, Gal Bar-Dea.


DJI unveils the Air 2S drone with 20-megapixel camera

Engadget

It's barely been a month since DJI unveiled a new drone, and the company already has another to show. Note the absence of the Mavic branding, indicating we might be seeing more of a shift in how the company pitches each level of quadcopter it offers. It's not clear if the "S" branding here is an Apple-style upgrade to the previous model, but the Air 2S certainly looks like someone gave the previous model a light facelift. The design seems near-identical bar a few smoother lines and an extra pair of front obstacle avoidance cameras. But what's important here is the camera it seems.


DJI's New Drone Makes Aerial Cinematography a Breeze

WIRED

DJI has a new drone, the Air 2S, and it's one of the best drones I've ever flown. The Air 2S is externally nearly identical to last year's Mavic Air 2. It even uses the same batteries, which makes upgrading a little cheaper. There are some very welcome changes in this update. The Air 2S adds an object detection camera to the top of the drone, which improves the collision avoidance system. It really helps when you're flying toward something at high speed, since the drone pitches forward, rendering the front sensor slightly less effective.


How "My Octopus Teacher" Defied Convention - Issue 99: Universality

Nautilus

It all started with an odd pile of shells: a pile that, upon closer inspection, fell apart like a flower losing its petals, introducing a burned-out nature documentarian named Craig Foster--and, in time, the world--to the octopus hiding cleverly inside. Known simply as "her," she would become the star of My Octopus Teacher, the Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary and surprise pandemic hit that told the story of Foster's unlikely relationship with that eight-armed mollusk. Released in September 2020, it arrived at the perfect moment. Audiences exhausted by lockdowns and unrelenting 2020-ness were primed for escape into the undersea fantasia of South Africa's kelp forests, where Foster met her. Best-selling books like The Soul of an Octopus and Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness had whetted public curiosity about these uncannily intelligent creatures with whom humans last shared a common ancestor 600 million years ago. Yet while most writing about octopuses emphasizes their ostensibly alien, unknowable nature,1 and serious, science-minded nature documentaries elevate concern about biodiversity over sentiment for a single animal, My Octopus Teacher defied convention. It embraced Foster's feelings for the octopus, which over the course of a year evolved from curiosity to care--even to love. And though her own feelings were left for viewers to interpret, the film's indelible impression was of nature populated by species who are not only beautiful and exquisitely evolved and ecologically important, but highly sentient, too. Nautilus talked to Foster about his octopus teacher and how getting to know her changed the way he thinks about nature. I write a lot about nature and biology and ecology, but in the last few years I've focused on the minds of animals and how we think about them.