Don’t Stand So Close to Me: AI Cameras Police Social Distancing at Work

Artificial intelligence-powered sensors are being repurposed to meet a surge in demand from organizations trying to comply with government guidelines on social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, privacy advocates are concerned the technology could be used to track individuals and monitor productivity. Even if the initial implementation is for health and safety in the workplace, in the future vendors could repurpose their technology to monitor other kinds of behavior, according to Albert Gidari, director of privacy at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. Employers should be transparent with workers and consider removing the technology after the pandemic is over, Gidari adds.

More info here: The Wall Street Journal, Parmy Olson

Publicado en Ciencia y programación

New ACM Award to Recognize Research Using HPC to Combat COVID-19

ACM this week unveiled the new ACM Gordon Bell Special Prize for High-Performance Computing-Based COVID-19 Research, to be presented this year and next year. The award will single out exceptional research achievements using high-performance computing (HPC) applications to understand the COVID-19 pandemic. Nominees will be selected according to performance and innovation in their computational methods, as well as their contributions toward understanding the nature, propagation, and/or treatment of the disease. The award complements the longstanding ACM Gordon Bell Prize for outstanding achievement in HPC applications. ACM president Cherri M. Pancake said, “This new award … hopefully will spur computer scientists at all levels to reimagine how the powerful tools of high-performance computing can be used in everything from vaccines to tracking, and perhaps even preventing the next pandemic.”

More info here: HPCwire

Publicado en Ciencia y programación

Australia wins AI ‘Eurovision Song Contest’

An Australian team won the unofficial AI ‘Eurovision Song Contest’, named for an annual international song competition cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event challenged contestants to write a song using artificial intelligence (AI). The Uncanny Valley team—made up of computer scientists, math, and social-anthropology researchers, as well as music producers—defeated 12 other teams with its song “Beautiful the World.” The song had a melody and lyrics written by an AI system that was trained with audio samples of koalas, kookaburras, and Tasmanian devils. A panel of AI experts rating the entries said, “Composing a song with AI is hard because you have all the creative challenges that come with song-writing, but you also have to juggle getting the machine learning right. The teams not only pushed the boundaries of their personal creativity, but also gave the audience a look into the exciting future of human-AI musical collaboration.”

More info here: BBC News, Jane Wakefield

Publicado en Ciencia y programación

Singapore Deploys Robot ‘Dog’ to Encourage Social Distancing

Singapore’s government announced last Friday that it would deploy a robot from Boston Dynamics at a local park as part of a pilot project to encourage social distancing. Authorities said Spot, the four-legged “dog” robot, will patrol the area and broadcast a pre-recorded message to remind visitors of the importance of social distancing. The robot will be outfitted with cameras to scan the environment and help officials estimate the number of park visitors. The government promised the cameras cannot track or recognize specific individuals, and no personal data will be compiled. Authorities said the Spot model “works well across different terrains and can navigate obstacles effectively, making it ideal for operation in public parks and gardens.”

More info here: CNN Business, Michelle Toh; James Griffiths

Publicado en Ciencia y programación

Data Visualization’s Breakthrough Moment in the COVID-19 Crisis

The COVID-19 crisis has spurred data visualization researchers and professionals to apply their expertise to combat the pandemic, designing interactive tools to inform the public and guide decision-makers. Johns Hopkins University researchers built a dashboard that displays current worldwide country data, with evolving windows that visualize information via clickable tabs. The New York Times and other publications offer dashboards with animated pandemic information, while Northeastern University’s Paul Kahn and Janice Zhang are adding daily updates to an open source database with more than 600 COVID-19 visualizations. Said Steven Drucker of Microsoft Research, “I don’t think there’s ever been a moment where data, models, and hence visualization has been thrust so much into the center of everyday life.”

More info here: Nightingale, Ben Shneiderman

Publicado en Ciencia y programación

Thomas Huang, Pioneer in Image Compression, Has Died

Image-compression pioneer and educator Thomas Huang has died at 83. Huang, a researcher and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UUIC), was recognized for his contributions to signal processing, pattern recognition, and computer vision. One of Huang’s key image-compression achievements was designing a technique for deriving a relationship between two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) imaging, and his work was foundational to recent innovations in 3D urban-modeling programs like Google’s StreetView. UIUC’s Zhi-Pei Liang said Huang made unmatched contributions to technical standards for international fax, image, and video compression, without which “it simply would not be possible for us to store and transmit the huge amounts of multimedia data that all of us encounter on a daily basis.”

More info here: Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign News Bureau

Publicado en Ciencia y programación

Connecticut City Testing Drone That Detects Fevers, Coughs

A “pandemic drone” being tested by police in Westport, CT, in cooperation with drone manufacturer Draganfly, will use sensors to detect fever temperatures, heart rates, sneezing, and coughing in crowds. Police say the drone can monitor body temperatures from altitudes of nearly 200 feet. The drone will not be used on private land and is not equipped with facial recognition technology. Said Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas, “Using drones remains a go-to technology for reaching remote areas with little to no manpower required. Because of this technology, our officers will have the information and quality data they need to make the best decision in any given situation.”

More info here: The Hill, Zack Budryk

Publicado en Ciencia y programación