Jun 13, 2018

Facial recognition is extended to pigs

One of the biggest advances in this early stage of working artificial intelligence is facial recognition — the ability of Facebook to pick out individuals across its platform, and the Chinese to nab suspected criminals out of a city crowd.

But last year, engineers working for JD Finance, the financial arm of JD.com, the e-commerce giant, wondered where such capabilities could go next. What about animals? So it was that a contest unfolded: three teams of engineers pitted against one another to adapt facial recognition programs to piglets.

How will the winner be selected?

  • As a first stage, each team must show it can identify individual pigs, says Chris Yao, a vice president of strategy for the JD.com affiliate, speaking over lunch Monday with a small group of journalists.
  • Then, they must do so over time — after all, as with humans, a piglet's facial appearance evolves as it grows up.

This isn't entirely a lark: The pig inquiry has its roots in a prior JD Finance study of chickens that resulted in a way to systemize feed costs for a full-size bird.

  • If facial recognition can detect a pig's age and approximate weight through time, it might be possible to systematize the cost of feed to raise them, too, and "when it's the right time to sell," Yao said.
  • Yao said he has begun to look around for who might pay for such data.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 5,463,392 — Total deaths: 344,503 — Total recoveries — 2,195,325Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,653,904 — Total deaths: 97,948 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: Italy reports lowest number of new cases since February — Ireland reports no new coronavirus deaths on Monday for the first time since March 21 — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: New York stock exchange to reopen its floor on Tuesday — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
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