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Best AI Applications of the Week—January 4, 2018

Hunting the Hunters

In the cover of night, when poachers seek their fortunes by killing forbidden treasures, like rhinos and elephants and big cats, this unmanned, autonomous drone uses a combo of infrared and AI to identify, watch, and follow humans. The aim is to help authorities catch the ignominious poachers. The creators hope to get the drone into the hands of park rangers in African National Parks.

This drone tech belongs to a group called Air Shepherd, which may bring to mind the group Sea Shepherd from Whale Wars. The shared shepherd name conjures up an image of plucky conservationists hunting and confronting pirates and poachers. But the Air Shepherd org seems to be more likely to operate inside the law than the controversial Sea Shepherd.

Watch how the drone works here:

Take Shelter—Now

You feel the room shaking and ask yourself, “is that a truck going by?” But you start to realize it’s an earthquake. Before long, it’s over and you’re safe, but shaken. You keep thinking it would have been really helpful to get a notification before it struck.

What’s coming down the pipeline is an early-warning deep-learning system, created by The National Center for Research on Earthquake Engineering under National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs), that aims to send you earlier earthquake warnings. It can predict, within three seconds, the magnitudes of oncoming earthquakes by detecting microseismic P-waves—high-speed waves people can’t feel but machines can detect.

Helping or Hindering Child-Protection Orgs?

There are mixed opinions on whether AI is helping child-protection organizations properly identify high-risk children. But if built properly, predictive algorithms are seeing some success. When people call a child-abuse hotline to warn or suggest an organization take a closer look into a child’s home situation, some orgs use AI to comb through hundreds of data points related to that child’s situation and then predict the child’s level of in-home risk.

Sometimes the prediction is at odds with professional opinions. On one hand, people think that AI is helping the organizations reach beyond their workers’ biases. On the other hand, people think the predictive algorithms are biased themselves, which is also likely true. But likely the best solution is finding the right balance between humans and AI.

 

Unique of the Week

AI is seemingly leaving few areas untouched, which includes areas you wouldn’t think you would want AI, like letting an AI take over the game on your gaming console while you sit back and watch. But there’s a lot going on in the gaming space with AI, and here’s a prime example—this guy trained his AI to dominate Super Mario.

See how he does it here:

Cheers,
The Data Crunch Team

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I’m Ginette. I listen to audiobooks while I eat salads, drive to Internet cafes, and run through the desert. A favorite is “Boys in the Boat.” Who knew that crew could be so dramatic? If you haven’t read it, read it. And I’m a technical writer gone audio producer.