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¿Google maps es infalible? Piénsalo otra vez

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Imagen de Deepanker Verma en Pixabay

A todos nos ha pasado que Google Maps nos manda a cruzar a la izquierda cuando debíamos ir a la derecha. O que nos ordene girar en U en un punto lleno de señales que indican lo contrario y un fiscal de tránsito nos aguarda listo para ponernos una multa. O que nos ‘aclare’ que nuestro destino está al sureste pero no tenemos ni idea de donde están el norte y el sur. Si vamos caminando no pasa nada, siempre que nos demos rápidamente cuenta de la ‘confusión’. Pero en coche el volante suele pagar los platos rotos por nuestra… molestia.

 

Por eso, los errores de esta famosa aplicación no deberían sorprendernos demasiado. Aunque todo tiene un límite. Probablemente esto fue lo que pensaron los 100 conductores que quedaron atrapados en medio de un lodazal luego de que ‘el mapa’ los enviara por el camino equivocado.

 

Redireccionando

 

El divertido episodio (para quienes lo leemos o escribimos al respecto) ocurrió en Colorado. Un centenar de automovilistas decidieron seguir el atajo sugerido por Google Maps para evitar una gran congestión vehicular. ¿El resultado? Un caos todavía peor, con autos de tracción simple atascados, sin disponer de la fuerza o la capacidad para zafarse de aquel embrollo por sus propios medios.


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Según el reporte de CNN, un accidente en la vía que conduce al aeropuerto de Denver fue el origen del problema. Para escapar del gran atasco que se produjo que se produjo luego de este incidente, los conductores decidieron seguir la sugerencia de la popular app. Nadie tenía razones para dudar.

 

Lo que ‘no sabía Google’ era que la ruta alterna (un camino sin pavimentar) estaba convertida en un gran lodazal por culpa de las lluvias de los últimos días. Los responsables de la aplicación se excusaron admitiendo que en ocasiones se le escapan algunas variables. Como el clima, por ejemplo.

 

Así que la próxima vez que Google Maps te suguiera una vía distinta para llegar más rápido a tu destino, piénsalo dos veces. No sea que termines en medio de un pantano.

Artificial Intelligence

NeuralCam Live is a great AI-powered app for turning your iPhone into a webcam

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How many video calls are too many video calls? Well, during this pandemic there’s seems to be no limit. And your laptop’s webcam might not the ideal camera to use for these calls because of its quality.

Some manufacturers such as Fujifilm and Olympus let you turn the camera into a webcam. But I don’t expect everyone to have one lying around. Besides, billions of people over the world has an iPhone. So, it’s easier to turn that into a webcam.

Luckily, NeuralCam’s new app, NeuralCam Live, lets you do that and more. The company has previously released apps for iPhone for low-light photography even if your iPhone doesn’t support it. Its new app is to facilitate high-quality video during those conference calls.

Setup and features

The setup is simple: install the app, and then install the Mac driver for virtual webcams (instructions in the app). Then connect your phone to your Mac using a USB cable, and join the meeting through the platform of your choice.

I have used the app for a couple of days, and I really like some of the features. The virtual background feature in Zoom, is often a hit or miss on my old MacBook Air. While using NeuralCam Live, I can use its head bubble feature to form a ring around my head and track its movement. It also blurs most of the background.

Head bubble in NeuralCam Live

If I’m talking to the folks in the US, I have to schedule calls in my evening or night time in India. And during those calls, lighting is not ideal for webcams in my room. NeuralCam Live has this low-light mode that illuminates the face using machine learning. Plus, there’s circle light option to brighten up the things more.

NeuralCam Live low light mode

What’s more, the app has a gesture guard to automatically detect nudity or face-touching gestures such as nose-picking or sneezing and will automatically blur the video to save the embarrassment.

Sadly, you can’t use this app through Safari as the browser doesn’t allow virtual webcams. You can’t use this if you have a Windows machine either, but the team said that it’s working on a client for the platform. Plus, the developers are also working on an iOS SDK to let other apps integrate some of NeuralCam’s smart into their apps.

You can download the app from here.

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Published August 12, 2020 — 08:59 UTC

Ivan Mehta

Ivan Mehta

August 12, 2020 — 08:59 UTC

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Artificial Intelligence

Facebook blames COVID-19 for reduced action on suicide, self-injury, and child exploitation content

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Facebook says that COVID-19 has hindered its ability to remove posts about suicide, self-injury, and child nudity and sexual exploitation.

The social media giant said the decision to send content reviewers home in March had forced it to rely more heavily on tech to remove violating content.

As a result, the firm says it took action on 911,000 pieces of content related to suicide and self-injury in the second quarter of this year — just over half the number of the previous quarter.

On Instagram, the number dropped even further, from 1.3 million pieces of content in Q1 to 275,000 in Q2. Meanwhile, action on Instagram content that sexually exploits or endangers children decreased from 1 million to 479,400.

“With fewer content reviewers, we took action on fewer pieces of content on both Facebook and Instagram for suicide and self-injury, and child nudity and sexual exploitation on Instagram,” said Guy Rosen, Facebook‘s VP of Integrity, in a blog post today.

[Read: Social media firms will use more AI to combat coronavirus misinformation, even if it makes more mistakes]

Facebook said that stretched human resources had also reduced the number of appeals it could offer. In addition, the firm claimed that its focus on removing of harmful content meant it couldn’t calculate the prevalence of violent and graphic content in its latest community standards report.

More human moderation needed

Facebook did report some improvements in its AI moderation efforts. The company said the proactive detection rate for hate speech on Facebook had increased from 89% to 95%. This led it to take action on 22.5 million pieces of violating content, up from the 9.6 million in the previous quarter.

Instagram‘s hate speech detection rate climbed even further, from 45% to 84%, while actioned content rose from 808,900 to 3.3 million.

Rosen said the results show the importance of  human moderators:

Today’s report shows the impact of COVID-19 on our content moderation and demonstrates that, while our technology for identifying and removing violating content is improving, there will continue to be areas where we rely on people to both review content and train our technology.

In other Facebook news, the company today announced new measures to stop publishers backed by political organizations from running ads disguised as news. Under the new policy, news Pages with these affiliations will be banned from Facebook News. They’ll also lose access to news messaging on the Messenger Business Platform or the WhatsApp business API.

With the US election season approaching, it’s gonna be a busy few months for Facebook‘s content moderation team.

Published August 11, 2020 — 18:21 UTC

Thomas Macaulay

Thomas Macaulay

August 11, 2020 — 18:21 UTC

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Pinterest improves and expands its skin tone search feature

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Pinterest is upgrading its skin tone search feature, which uses machine vision to sort pins in the site’s beauty category by skin tone. The feature launched in the US in 2018 and is now available in the UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand as well.

The feature is designed to make it easier for users to find content relevant to them, says Pinterest. It’s a common problem in the search world that certain queries default to show white faces. By giving users the option to refine their searches based on skin tones, Pinterest says it helps users find they content they want to see.

The feature is now more prominent when users are searching for content and delivers more accurate results, says Pinterest. The company offers searches like “grey hair on dark skin women,” “blonde hair color ideas for fair skin blue eyes,” and “soft natural makeup for Black women“ as examples of the sort of fine-grained results the feature can deliver.

Pinterest’s Try On feature lets users try on lipstick shades in AR.
Image: Pinterest

Search by skin tone is also now integrated into the company’s augmented reality Try On feature, which lets users search for lipstick shades and try them on in AR. This feature is currently only available in the US but is launching in the UK “in the coming months.”

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