A woman in Lagos, Nigeria, peels cassava to make flour. Diseases and pests can threaten the crop. Photo: Sunday Alamba / AP

Researchers at Penn State University and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture in Tanzania have trained a neural network running on a smartphone to spot cassava disease with 93% accuracy.

Why it matters: Diseases and pests threaten cassava, a root vegetable that is critical for food security in sub-Saharan Africa, and can lead to losses of over a $1.2 billion each year.

The vision: "In the same way we have personalized medicine, I think we can have personalized agriculture on scale for hundreds of millions of people in real time," Penn State's David Hughes told Wired. He envisions farmers and gardeners using artificial intelligence to help them diagnose their crops.

How it works: Neural networks are typically trained with millions of images. Instead of starting from scratch, the researchers took advantage of something called transfer learning in which an existing network is retrained with new data. In this case, they used 2,756 images of cassava leaves with tell-tale signs of disease.

Go deeper

Americans reflect on Independence Day amid racism reckoning

A Black Lives Matter banner and a United States flag on the facade of the U.S. embassy building in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Simon Shin/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

America's leaders are rethinking how they view Independence Day, as the country reckons with the historic, unequal treatment of people of color during a pandemic which has disproportionately affected nonwhite Americans.

Why it matters: The country’s legacy of racism has come into sharp focus in the weeks of protests following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. From Confederate statues to Mount Rushmore, Americans are reexamining the symbols and traditions they elevate and the history behind them.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 11,031,905 — Total deaths: 523,777 — Total recoveries — 5,834,337Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 2,788,395 — Total deaths: 129,306 — Total recoveries: 790,404 — Total tested: 34,213,497Map.
  3. States: ICU beds in Arizona's hot spot reach near capacity.
  4. Public health: The states where face coverings are mandatory Fauci says it has been a "very disturbing week" for the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.
  5. Economy: The economy may recover just quickly enough to kill political interest in more stimulus.
15 hours ago - Sports

Washington Redskins to review team name amid public pressure

Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Washington Redskins have announced they will be conducting a review of the team's name after mounting pressure from the public and corporate sponsors.

Why it matters: This review is the first formal step the Redskins are taking since the debate surrounding the name first began. It comes after weeks of discussions between the team and the NFL, the team said.