Cameras that can learn what they are viewing — ScienceDaily


Intelligent cameras could be one step closer thanks to a research collaboration between the Universities of Bristol and Manchester who have developed cameras that can learn and understand what they are seeing.

Roboticists and artificial intelligence (AI) researchers know there is a problem in how current systems sense and process the world. Currently they are still combining sensors, like digital cameras that are designed for recording images, with computing devices like graphics processing units (GPUs) designed to accelerate graphics for video games.

This means AI systems perceive the world only after recording and transmitting visual information between sensors and processors. But many things that can be seen are often irrelevant for the task at hand, such as the detail of leaves on roadside trees as an autonomous car passes by. However, at the moment all this information is captured by sensors in meticulous detail and sent clogging the system with irrelevant data, consuming power and taking processing time. A different approach is necessary to enable efficient vision for intelligent machines.

Two papers from the Bristol and Manchester collaboration have shown how sensing and learning can be combined to create novel cameras for AI systems.

Walterio Mayol-Cuevas, Professor in Robotics, Computer Vision and Mobile Systems at the University of Bristol and principal investigator (PI), commented: “To create efficient perceptual systems we need to push the boundaries beyond the ways we have been following so far.

“We can borrow inspiration from the way natural systems process the visual world — we do not perceive everything — our eyes and our brains work together to make sense of the world and in some cases, the eyes themselves do processing to help the brain reduce what is not relevant.”

This is demonstrated by the way the frog’s eye has detectors that spot fly-like objects,

Pittsburgh-Area School Districts Use Technology To Help Students Learn In New Ways


PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Teaching remotely is a big challenge, but many local school districts are taking advantage of new technology.

Teachers at Pine-Richland schools wear wireless microphones and use tracking cameras, document cameras and interactive display boards with mounted cameras so students both in school and at home can see the same things.

In the Elizabeth Forward and Avonworth school districts, teachers are using Gizmos virtual science labs, which allows students to manipulate the variables and work together.

a person standing in front of a computer

© Provided by CBS Pittsburgh

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Elizabeth Forward Middle School eighth-grader Joseph Maksin grew virtual plants.

“You got to pick what type of plant you were using, how much soil, the amount of sun it was getting, how much water it was getting, and it would show a time-lapse of how it was growing,” said Maksin.

His pre-biology teacher at Elizabeth Forward Middle School, Rachel Lintelman, said, “I liked that there all these options they were able to interact with, and no kid had the same exact answer as any other kid because they got to all do it how they wanted to.”

Elizabeth Forward schools are taking kids on virtual field trips using Google Earth and PBS online. Amy Williams, an American history teacher at Elizabeth Forward Middle school, says her students followed Marco Polo’s travels on the Silk Road.

“It brings excitement to them in their own bedroom or living room, wherever they happen to be working,” she said.

Avonworth Elementary sixth-grader Bavly Naklah loves the app Sora, which helps him find books based on his classmates’ recommendations, and he likes getting e-books quicker than physical books.

“You don’t have to wait to go to school or the public library or something like that to find a book. The books are at your fingertips, on your laptop,

Econ 3.0? What economists can contribute to (and learn from) the pandemic


For evidence that mainstream economists are taking the challenge of covid-19 seriously, look no further than the comments of Gabriela Ramos, chief of staff at the OECD, at a conference in April: “For many institutions, including the OECD, which has traditionally emphasized the need for efficiency, it is not easy to accept that we should build slack, buffers, and spare capacity into our systems…but as we now see this is literally a question of life or death.”

This is the first plank of the profession’s response to the pandemic: questioning whether national economies, individual companies, and markets should be optimized to maximize return on capital, or to ensure resilience in the face of a crisis. 

The second clear trend concerns methodology and a willingness for economists to move away from strict mathematical models. “The pandemic has, in many cases, decreased our reliance on traditional economic metrics such as GDP,” says Chen Long, director of the Luohan Academy, an open research institute initiated by the Alibaba Group. This, he says, means thinking outside the box and looking for non-traditional indicators, such as digital apps and internet services. “It also signifies a significant shift as economists dig into high-frequency information to illustrate what is happening to our economy.” 

This article was written by Insights, the custom content arm of MIT Technology Review. It was not produced by the editorial staff.

Economics or anthropology?

The pandemic has seen a flowering of interdisciplinary research between economists and academics in fields that would not typically have been considered adjacent—epidemiologists and anthropologists for example, rather than mathematicians and statisticians. 

Behavioral economics, which begins from a standpoint that social norms can have as much influence over human behavior as the rational self-interest of individual actors, has featured heavily in advice to policymakers. 

One example comes from India.

What Can We Learn Today From Science and Technology Development in WWII?


Anti-aircraft guns in London during the Blitz of 1940 were mostly for show. It was extremely difficult to shoot down an aircraft. The shells launched to explode in an enemy bomber’s flight path had to be timed to one-fortieth of a second, explained Future Tense fellow Jaime Holmes in a recent online event co-sponsored by Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology. A timing device a second off would mean an explosion 2,000 feet from its intended target.

a herd of cattle standing on top of a building: The aftermath of a V-1 flying bomb strike in central London, June 1944 U.S. Army Signal Corps/National Archives

© U.S. Army Signal Corps/National Archives
The aftermath of a V-1 flying bomb strike in central London, June 1944 U.S. Army Signal Corps/National Archives

It’s no surprise, then, that at the start of the Blitz it took about 20,000 shells to shoot down a single airplane.

Developing a solution to the problem—an electronic sensor within a shell that could detect a nearby aircraft and blow up in its proximity—was simple in theory but complicated in execution, Holmes said. The electronics of the day were extremely sensitive, the transistor didn’t yet exist, and any sensor would have to withstand enormous pressure. The task of creating the first “ ‘intelligent’ bullet,” Holmes writes, was thus akin to “shooting a light bulb out of a pistol.”

The story of the rag-tag group of Americans who took on this challenge, “one of the toughest, most urgent scientific tasks of World War II,” is the center of Holmes’ new book, 12 Seconds of Silence: How a Team of Inventors, Tinkerers, and Spies Took Down a Nazi Superweapon.

This team of scientists, led by Merle Tuve and known as Section T of the Office of Science and Research Development, went from working on a borrowed Virginia farm and buying the wrong blasting powder to creating the world’s first “smart” weapon, itself key to Allied victory.

DISH's New HD DVR: Learn Why the Hopper Is More Than Your Average DVR!


Digital Video Recorders (DVR) are nothing new but it's good to know that providers continue to innovate and integrate their products. Traditionally, a DVR is generally known as a large bulky set-top box that sounds like an old desktop computer. It can store all your favorite movie and TV shows. Recent breakthroughs have made technology more advanced allowing manufacturers to produce more efficient and attractive models by bringing new technology into the product.

Ten years ago you could get a DVR that would record about 30 hours worth of programming. Today's hard drives can store up to 1000 hours or 2 Terabytes worth of recordings. While the DVR comes with a limited hard drive, it does have the ability to add an external hard drive and expand its storage. Note, once a recording is moved from the internal onto an external hard drive the placement is permanent.

The latest DVR is labeled, "The Hopper." This unit is a three-tuner whole-home High Definition DVR that allows recording on up to six high-definition channels at once allowing playback in any room. Also, provides the ability to operate four TVs simultaneously from one video recorder. Additional benefits include the ability to watch a show while recording another at the same time. Plus, the option to pause, record and playback TV shows On-Demand.

This receiver has a feature called, "Prime Time Anytime or PTAT." PTAT allows instant on-demand access to shows on ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX in high-definition where available the day after the initial showing. On-demand shows are available for up to 8 days. The new Auto-hop feature seamlessly skips over the commercials so there is no pushing a skip forward button.

This is the first model I've seen that has a remote locator. The button is located on the front panel …