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MIT Technology Review

AI is helping wildlife biologists identify rare beasts on the Serengeti

New research has shown that an algorithm can be as effective as humans at identifying animals.

Some background: Motion-sensitive cameras automatically photograph wild animals, providing massive amounts of data, but humans have to analyze every image.

The news: AI was able to accurately catalogue 3.2 million photographs from the Snapshot Serengeti project with 96.6 accuracy—matching the record set by human volunteers. The software could save an estimated 17,000 person-hours’ worth of remaining work.

Why it matters: This success could propel fields like ecology, zoology, and biology to become “big data” disciplines. “This is a game changer for wildlife ecology," says Craig Packer, head of the Snapshot Serengeti project.