Apr 25, 2017

Using AI to solve mass extinction

Courtesy of Wildbook

Scientists at Microsoft and conservation groups are beginning to use artificial intelligence to save threatened species, conserve protected lands, and enforce laws against overfishing.

Why it matters: AI, though traditionally associated with private industry, is allowing environmentalists to better protect polar bears, fish, and stream fauna.

Here are three projects in which AI is being used to protect the environment:

Tracking species: University of Illinois computer scientist Tanya Berger-Wolf's Wildbook project uses computer vision to recognize species including the polar bear, count their number, and track their migration, using crowdsourced images or those already compiled by conservationists. Wildbook also improves scientists' understanding of animal behavior.

Protecting the Chesapeake: Microsoft, working with the Chesapeake Conservatory, is leveraging AI to analyze pictures of land surrounding the Chesapeake Bay and creating a "land cover" dataset that is 900 times more detailed than previously possible. This increases scientists understanding of landscape features like trees that grow along streams that feed into the bay. Such fauna are oftentimes the last defense against polluting runoff, and understanding their placement allows conservationists to more efficiently deploy their resources.

Keeping fishermen honest: Regulators typically employ monitors to enforce rules against overfishing or ensnaring protected species in fishing nets. But for the vast majority of fisheries, human observers are too expensive, meaning that just 2% of global fishing operations can be monitored in this way. Now, regulators are using AI-equipped cameras to monitor what is caught, and AI software to analyze that data to make sure than fisherman are observing regulations.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 745,308 — Total deaths: 35,307 — Total recoveries: 156,875.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 143,672 — Total deaths: 2,575 — Total recoveries: 4,865.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30 — Hospital ship the USNS Comfort arrives in Manhattan.
  4. Business latest: Macy's will furlough the majority of it's workers this week, as the chain's stores remain closed.
  5. World updates: Spain and Italy extend lockdown deadlines while Italy becomes second country to surpass 100,000 confirmed cases.
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U.S. coronavirus updates: Majority of governors order residents to stay home

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

At least 29 state governors have ordered their residents to stay home to promote social distancing and limit community spread from the coronavirus pandemic as the U.S. copes with more than 144,000 positive cases — more than any other country in the world, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: COVID-19 killed over 2,500 people in the U.S. by Monday. That's far fewer than in Italy, where over 10,700 people have died — accounting for a third of the global death toll. The number of people who've recovered from the virus in the U.S. exceeded 4,800.

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Maryland becomes latest state to issue coronavirus stay-at-home order

Gov. Larry Hogan. Photo: Jim Spellman/Getty Images

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday he is ordering residents to stay at home effective 8 p.m. due to the coronavirus, except for those engaged in essential services, including health care and government functions.

The big picture: Maryland is the latest state to announce policies to enforce social distancing, which have affected almost 250 million Americans. More than 1.5 billion people worldwide had been asked to stay home as of last week.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 40 mins ago - Health