Search results for: algorithm

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## Deep Learning Algorithm Can Find A McDonald’s Much Faster Than You

Okay, I’m seriously frustrated. I’ve been trying to find this McDonald’s for a while now. I know it’s nearby, but I just can’t seem to figure out where exactly it is, and it’s driving me crazy. This is a brand new experience for me—I’ve never in my life sought out a McDonald’s. I’ve also never tried to put myself in the place of a computer, or more accurately, a deep learning algorithm, to try and navigate. And I can say, it’s damn hard. Of course machines are better than humans if we go about it like this.

Let me back up—exposition is important here. MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, also known as CSAIL, wanted to see if they could get computers to make decisions similar to the ones humans make in the context of our environment. For example, when we’re walking in a new city we might assess the safety level of a particular neighborhood, or when we pull off the highway in need of gas we might decide we’re more likely to find a station if we turn left rather than right at a stoplight. We might not consciously think all that hard about these decisions because we’ve made them countless times before, but our brains are actually factoring in a bunch of information, such as the state of the buildings and houses in the neighborhood or the number of people on the streets, or the direction from which we can hear street noise. We then proceed accordingly.

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## Algorithm Could Help Clean Up Space Trash Safely And Effectively

For a terrestrial civilization, we sure have made a whole bunch of space trash, including approximately “22,000 objects larger than the size of a softball,” and a bunch smaller than that, most of which come from old satellites (can we start a cosmic recycling program for these?) If you’ve seen Gravity you know how dangerous space trash can be, it can also essentially multiply as it continues colliding. The problem is that it’s not clear whose responsibility it is to clean this mess up, given that waste collection and disposal services don’t exactly make it out that far. It’s also dangerous to collect this trash, as objects can move quick and crazy in space. Researchers at MIT have now developed an algorithm to help crews anticipate the movement of space junk so they can more easily snatch it up.

The technique was recently tested at the ISS where astronauts used SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellite) satellites, which are devices for testing various technologies in zero gravity. The SPHERES are pretty ingenious—they behave like satellites, so they’re the perfect proving ground, and they’re also small enough to actually be tested inside the ISS, which is what they did here. Astronauts equipped a SPHERE with a couple of linked cameras that filmed another satellite that was spinning around in the air.

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## Algorithms Help Hide Public Eyesores

Eyesores are a necessary evil in public spaces. Even beautifully landscaped parks require trashcans, port-o-potties, and electrical boxes. While no one can dispute their practical necessity, it’s also tough to dispute their disruption to the aesthetic appeal of otherwise picturesque places. Researchers from MIT recently sought to tackle this problem, and at next month’s conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, they’ll present an algorithm they devised to analyze photos and generate camouflage for unattractive objects in the area.

The researchers tested various algorithms with Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Volunteers tried to identify camouflaged objects in the manufactured images, and the algorithms were scored accordingly. The most successful ones hid objects that took users more than three seconds to find. The developers aren’t trying to keep objects hidden forever—they’re just trying to provide cover so that a casual glance can’t detect them, and they’ve succeeded.

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## Algorithms’ World-Changing Impact In Infographic Form

If you go up to a common person on the street and ask them how algorithms affect their lives, or even to name a specific one, you might find yourself facing a perplexed gaze. Perhaps I shouldn’t insult our population and just admit that I’m talking about myself in that example. I know that algorithms are computational methods of fixing problems, but I still haven’t figured out a way to pull two of the same socks out of my drawer, so I could always stand to learn a few things.

The infographic-militia over at CollegeDegreeSearch.com have once again made it easy for laymen to show their faces during dinner party conversations, this time with an infographic shortlisting the most important ways in which algorithms have affected our modern lives. Granted, they aren’t sharing any new information here, and you won’t be guiding those dinner party conversations, but it lays out its facts in an entertaining way and you might learn something you didn’t know before.

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## Computer Vision Is Closing The Gap

One of the biggest breakthroughs in computer science has been the ability to simulate human neural networks via programs and algorithms, thereby combining the power of artificial intelligence with the computing power of the human brain. This advancement will aid in creating artificial “superintelligence,” as well as figuring out how the human brain works in an attempt to simulate it — and perhaps consciousness itself — in a machine (which scientists recently did with a worm). One specific aspect of mimicking human neural networks that has been particularly challenging is vision and object recognition, which has recently yielded some impressive and promising results, and now has taken another leap forward. Neuroscientists at MIT recently conducted a study that indicates that recent advancements in “deep neural networks” allow computer networks to see and recognize objects just as well as primates.

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## This Double Amputee Controls Two Prosthetics At Once

GFR has done a lot of reporting on the breakneck pace of the prosthetics development, including mind-controlled prosthetics and exoskeletons. It’s mind-blowing to think that someone without a limb can simply think/desire to move a bionic replacement and it will do just that, including allowing a paraplegic teen to kick a soccer ball. Now, in yet another first in the field, a double-amputee has become the first person in the world to control two prosthetic limbs at once.

40 years ago, Les Baugh lost both of his arms in an accident. He recently received two of Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory’s Modular Prosthetic Limbs, which look and feel like regular human arms; possess similar strength and flexibility; have over 100 sensors that aid in touch, pressure, and positioning; and connect to a wearer via a neural interface. In order to be fitted with the prosthetics, Baugh had to have target muscle reinnervation surgery—a recent surgical breakthrough that readies the nerves for connection to the arm by “reassigning” them.