Oct 2, 2017

AI can diagnose plant disease

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.

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World coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases top 1 million

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Novel coronavirus infections have hit the 1 million mark after "near exponential growth" that's reached "almost every country," World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday.

The big picture: The global death toll exceeded 50,000 on Thursday, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy has reported nearly 14,000 deaths. Governments around the world have introduced public health and economic measures to try and curb the impact of the virus.

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 236,339 — Total deaths: 5,648 — Total recoveries: 8,861Map.
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Judge declines to delay Wisconsin April 7 primary, extends absentee deadline

Photo: Darren Hauck/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday declined to delay Wisconsin's April 7 primary election, saying he doesn't have the authority to do so.

Why it matters: Wisconsin is the only state scheduled to vote next Tuesday that has not yet delayed its primary.