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Computer AI mastering 'dark matter of the internet,' gaining ability to describe images with surprising accuracy

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - Two groups of scientists, working independently, have created artificial intelligence software capable of recognizing and describing the content of photographs and videos with far greater accuracy than ever before, sometimes even mimicking human levels of understanding.

Until now, so-called computer vision has largely been limited to recognizing individual objects. The new software, described on Monday by researchers at Google and at Stanford University, teaches itself to identify entire scenes: a group of young men playing Frisbee, for example, or a herd of elephants marching on a grassy plain.

The software then writes a caption in English describing the picture. Compared with human observations, the researchers found, the computer-written descriptions are surprisingly accurate.

I consider the pixel data in images and video to be the dark matter of the Internet. We are now starting to illuminate it

The advances may make it possible to better catalog and search for the billions of images and hours of video available online, which are often poorly described and archived. At the moment, search engines like Google rely largely on written language accompanying an image or video to ascertain what it contains.

I consider the pixel data in images and video to be the dark matter of the Internet, said Fei-Fei Li, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, who led the research with Andrej Karpathy, a graduate student. We are now starting to illuminate it.

Li and Karpathy published their research as a Stanford University technical report. The Google team published their paper on arXiv.org, an open source site hosted by Cornell University.

In the longer term, the new research may lead to technology that helps the blind and robots navigate natural environments. But it also raises chilling possibilities for surveillance.

Via - news.nationalpost.com