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Artificial intelligence

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.

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

The viral AI avatar app Lensa undressed me—without my consent

My avatars were cartoonishly pornified, while my male colleagues got to be astronauts, explorers, and inventors.

Roomba testers feel misled after intimate images ended up on Facebook

An MIT Technology Review investigation recently revealed how images of a minor and a tester on the toilet ended up on social media. iRobot said it had consent to collect this kind of data from inside homes—but participants say otherwise.

How to spot AI-generated text

The internet is increasingly awash with text written by AI software. We need new tools to detect it.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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