« October 28, 2019 | Main | October 30, 2019 »

October 29, 2019

How flies land upside down

I can't speak for you but me, for years I've lost sleep puzzling over how flies accomplish this magnificent feat of aerobatics.

So glad it's finally put to bed... as it were.

You can read the original article — including all tables, figures, images, and nine videos with speed controls — published October 23, 2019 in Science Advances, here.

[via Stephenie Livingston writing in Science]

October 29, 2019 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The check in the mail


This New Yorker cartoon by Jack Ziegler became my all-time favorite the moment I first saw it while reading the magazine.

I cut it out of the April 21, 1986 issue and put it on my fridge*, where it has remained.

Up top, how it looks today.

Below, as it appeared in the magazine.


*Not the same fridge whose door it's on now: that one, which came with my house when I bought it, dated from 1967, the year my house was built. In 1995 it finally stopped working after 28 years, and I replaced it with a Whirlpool, which still works perfectly in year 24. I'm increasingly impressed with how long big appliances like refrigerators, washers, and dryers last — at least, those I bought back in the 80s and 90s.

October 29, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Facebook AI fools facial recognition systems — and works on live video


From the company that's embroiled in a multibillion-dollar judgment lawsuit over its facial recognition practices comes this development, from its AI research division.


From the Verge:

Facebook researchers say the tool can combat deepfakes

Facebook remains embroiled in a multibillion-dollar judgement lawsuit over its facial recognition practices, but that hasn't stopped its artificial intelligence research division from developing technology to combat the very misdeeds of which the company is accused.

According to VentureBeat, Facebook AI Research (FAIR) has developed a state-of-the-art "de-identification" system that works on video, including even live video.

It works by altering key facial features of a video subject in real time using machine learning to trick a facial recognition system into improperly identifying the subject.

This de-identification technology has existed in the past and there are entire companies, like Israeli AI and privacy firm D-ID, dedicated to providing it for still images.

There's also a whole category of facial recognition fooling imagery you can wear yourself, called adversarial examples, that work by exploiting weaknesses in how computer vision software has been trained to identify certain characteristics.

Take for instance this pair of sunglasses with an adversarial pattern printed onto it that can make a facial recognition system think you're actress Milla Jovovich.

But that type of thwarting of facial recognition usually means altering a photograph or a still image captured from a security camera or some other source after the fact.

Or in the case of adversarial examples, preemptively setting out to fool the system.

Facebook's research supposedly does similar work in real time and on video footage, both pre-captured and live.

That’s a first for the industry, FAIR claims, and good enough to combat sophisticated facial recognition systems.

You can see examples of it in action in the GIFs above.

"Face recognition can lead to loss of privacy and face replacement technology may be misused to create misleading videos," reads the paper explaining the company’s approach, as cited by VentureBeat. "Recent world events concerning the advances in, and abuse of face recognition technology invoke the need to understand methods that successfully deal with de-identification. Our contribution is the only one suitable for video, including live video, and presents quality that far surpasses the literature methods."

Facebook apparently does not intend to make use of this technology in any of its commercial products, VentureBeat reports.

But the research may influence future tools developed to protect individuals' privacy and, as the research highlights with "misleading videos," prevent someone’s likeness from being used in video deepfakes.

The AI industry is currently working on ways to combat the spread of deepfakes and the increasingly sophisticated tools used to create them.

This is one method, and both lawmakers and tech companies are trying to come up with other tools, like deepfake detection software, and regulatory frameworks for how to control the spread of fake videos, images, and audio.

The other concern FAIR's research addresses is facial recognition, which is also unregulated and causing concern among lawmakers, academics, and activists who fear it may violate human rights if it continues to be deployed without oversight by law enforcement, governments, and corporations.

October 29, 2019 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


Screen Shot 2019-10-26 at 11.33.42 AM

Really interesting website I happened on last week.

Res ipsa loquitur.

October 29, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Super Mario Transformer Pillow


I still can't figure out how it works but I'm sure that's just me.

From the website:

The Super Mario series is as much known for its iconic characters as its fun gameplay.

Two of the most recognizable elements are Super Mushroom and the Question Blocks.


Now these two are here to ensure you get a good night's sleep when traveling by plane or other forms of transport.

The Super Mario Travel Neck Pillow Cushion is a flexible item that is reversible, so it can serve as both a neck pillow for when you are on the move and a regular cushion for when you need something to rest on at home.


Features and Details:

• Neck pillow dimensions: 13.3" x 11.8" x 3.9"

• Cushion dimensions: 10.6" x 10.6" x 5.9"

• Polyester, polyurethane, polystyrene

• Officially licensed by Nintendo

• Made in Japan



October 29, 2019 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

« October 28, 2019 | Main | October 30, 2019 »