law enforcement

Paris Firefighters Used This Remote-Controlled Robot to Extinguish the Notre Dame Blaze

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

The Paris Fire Brigade has seen its share of logistical challenges, but the massive conflagration that consumed parts of the Notre Dame cathedral on the night of 15 April required a fight of epic proportions. The cathedral is 856 years old and built in a style that makes it almost structurally impossible to contain a fire. The site doubles as both a wildly popular tourist attraction and a holy site for Christians. Defending this symbol of French heritage would require all the tactical and physical power the Brigade had at its disposal--human and otherwise. Soon after firefighters arrived at the scene, the cathedral's giant spire began to show signs of collapsing into the building.

Facial recognition : 7 trends to watch (2019 review)


Few biometric technologies are sparking the imagination quite like facial recognition. Equally, its arrival has prompted profound concerns and reactions. With artificial intelligence and the blockchain, face recognition certainly represents a significant digital challenge for all companies and organizations - and especially governments. In this dossier, you'll discover the 7 face recognition facts and trends that are set to shape the landscape in 2019. Let's jump right in .

Amazon's Alexa isn't just AI -- thousands of humans are listening


Amazon, like many other tech companies investing heavily in artificial intelligence, has always been forthright about its Alexa assistant being a work in progress. "The more data we use to train these systems, the better Alexa works, and training Alexa with voice recordings from a diverse range of customers helps ensure Alexa works well for everyone," reads the company's Alexa FAQ. What the company doesn't tell you explicitly, as highlighted by an in-depth investigation from Bloomberg published this evening, is that one of the only, and often the best, ways Alexa improves over time is by having human beings listen to recordings of your voice requests. Of course, this is all buried in product and service terms few consumers will ever read, and Amazon has often downplayed the privacy implications of having cameras and microphones in millions of homes around the globe. But concerns about how AI is trained as it becomes an ever more pervasive force in our daily lives will only continue to raise alarms, especially as most of how this technology works remains beyond closed doors and improves using methods Amazon is loathe to ever disclose.

How robots helped the French save Notre Dame Cathedral


Paris firefighters used drones and a water-spitting robot to help tame the Notre Dame Cathedral fire. Putting out Monday's fire at the famed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was a joint effort between hundreds of firefighters, emergency personnel and modern technology. Parisian firefighters used a combination of robots and drones to see, track and contain the blaze that ravaged the 800-year-old cathedral's roof, spire and stained glass windows. One instrumental player was Colossus, a water-firing robot that was deployed to quell the flames from inside the smoldering Gothic cathedral after firefighters were forced to evacuate certain areas. The tank-like robot, which was designed to transport equipment and wounded people, is equipped with cameras that allow the person who's operating it to see what's happening within danger zones.

When Futurism Led to Fascism--and Why It Could Happen Again


In 1909, a poet named Filippo Marinetti was driving along in his brand new Fiat when he came across two cyclists in the road. Marinetti swerved to avoid hitting his fellow travelers, sending his car into a ditch and completely destroying the vehicle. Here's how Marinetti described the encounter: The words were scarcely out of my mouth when I spun my car around with the frenzy of a dog trying to bite its tail, and there, suddenly, were two cyclists coming toward me, shaking their fists, wobbling like two equally convincing but nevertheless contradictory arguments. Their stupid dilemma was blocking my way--Damn! Ouch! ... I stopped short and to my disgust rolled over into a ditch with my wheels in the air … You can already tell from this account that Marinetti was a bit of an eccentric.

A firefighting robot named Colossus helped 400 firefighters battle a blaze at Notre Dame

Daily Mail

An 1,100-pound emergency robot helped to save a piece of human history during a blaze at Paris' Notre Dame cathedral that threatened to burn the historic monument to the ground. The formidable device, dubbed Colossus, a remote-controlled drone equipped with hoses and cameras, was able to roll its way into the cathedral to help fight the fire -- which burned through the structure's old wooden roof -- from within. Colossus, which is both fire-resistant, water-proof, and capable of carrying up to 1,200 pounds not only helped to stop the fire before it completely razed the structure, but reduced the need for fire fighters to enter the church where they would be in danger from falling debris. At the time, the cathedral was only 15 to 30 minutes away from being completely burned to the ground, reports say. Weighing in at 1,100 pounds, Colossus is a firefighting robot that can be controlled remotely.

Microsoft denied police facial recognition tech over human rights concerns


Microsoft has said it turned down a request from law enforcement in California to use its facial recognition technology in police body cameras and cars, reports Reuters. Speaking at an event at Stanford University, Microsoft president Brad Smith said the company was concerned that the technology would disproportionately affect women and minorities. Past research has shown that because facial recognition technology is trained primarily on white and male faces, it has higher error rates for other individuals. "Anytime they pulled anyone over, they wanted to run a face scan," said Smith of the unnamed law enforcement agency. "We said this technology is not your answer."

In praise of the autoencoder


When you consider all the machine learning (ML) algorithms, you'll find there is a subset of very pragmatic ones: neural networks. They usually require no statistical hypothesis and no specific data preparation except for normalization. The power of each network lies in its architecture, its activation functions, its regularization terms, plus a few other features. When you consider architectures for neural networks, there is a very versatile one that can serve a variety of purposes -- two in particular: detection of unknown unexpected events and dimensionality reduction of the input space. This neural network is called autoencoder.

Sex attacks involving dating apps on the rise - police figures

BBC News

The number of recorded sexual offences involving online dating sites and apps has almost doubled in the last four years, police figures suggest. Offences where a dating site was mentioned in a police report increased from 156 in 2015, to 286 last year, according to figures from 23 of the 43 forces in England and Wales. The Online Dating Association said apps try to protect users from harm. But the National Police Chiefs' Council said firms had a duty to do more. The figures reveal that between 2015 and 2018 there were a total of 2,029 recorded offences - including sexual offences - where an online dating website or app was mentioned in a police report.

How Artificial Intelligence Helps Police Catch Ponzi Schemes?


Seoul Special Judicial Police Bureau for Public Safety arrested the CEOs and key players of a cryptocurrency pyramid scheme using the help of AI (Artificial Intelligence) last Thursday. The two main suspects known as Lee and Bae stole a total of 21.2 billion won ($18.3 million in US-Dollars) in a span of 6 months - 12 people were arrested in total. The South Korean police reported the CEOs of this company set up a "members only" shopping website and cryptocurrency exchange in May 2018. The site recruited members for an annual fee of 330,000 won ($288), or a "premium" membership fee of 990,000 won ($864). It also offered 10-year memberships with discounts on hotels, leisures, and on events like weddings and funerals.