Posts Tagged ‘scan’

Photo: Dex Ezekiel/ Unsplash.
A physician in Japan realized that artificial intelligence [A.I.] that could differentiate pastries might also be helpful in medicine.

I love accidental discoveries. In today’s story, a Japanese doctor was amazed at how precisely artificial intelligence could distinguish one pastry from another — and he had a lightbulb moment.

James Somers reports at the New Yorker, “A.I. researchers used to think that, without some kind of model of how the world worked and all that was in it, a computer might never be able to distinguish the parts of complex scenes. The field of ‘computer vision’ was a zoo of algorithms that made do in the meantime. The prospect of seeing like a human was a distant dream.

“All this changed in 2012, when Alex Krizhevsky, a graduate student in computer science, released AlexNet, a program that approached image recognition using a technique called deep learning. AlexNet was a neural network, ‘deep’ because its simulated neurons were arranged in many layers. As the network was shown new images, it guessed what was in them; inevitably, it was wrong, but after each guess it was made to adjust the connections between its layers of neurons, until it learned to output a label matching the one that researchers provided.”

Somers recounts that on a visit to Japan, he saw a bakery scanner identify a pastry with extraordinary precision and wanted to learn more. His curiosity took him to Hisashi Kambe, who once “developed SUPER TEX-SIM, a program that allowed textile manufacturers to simulate the design process, with interactive yarn and color editors. … A series of breaks led to a distribution deal with Mitsubishi’s fabric division, [and in 1985] Kambe formally incorporated as BRAIN Co., Ltd.

“For twenty years, BRAIN took on projects that revolved, in various ways, around seeing. … Then, in 2007, BRAIN was approached by a restaurant chain that had decided to spin off a line of bakeries. …

“The checkout process was difficult and error-prone—the cashier would fumble at the register, handling each item individually—and also unsanitary and slow. Lines in pastry shops grew longer and longer. The restaurant chain turned to BRAIN for help. Could they automate the checkout process? …

“By 2013, they had built a device that could take a picture of pastries sitting on a backlight, analyze their visual features, and distinguish a ham corn from a carbonara sandwich. …

“In early 2017, a doctor at the Louis Pasteur Center for Medical Research, in Kyoto, saw a television segment about the BakeryScan. He realized that cancer cells, under a microscope, looked kind of like bread. He contacted BRAIN, and the company agreed to begin developing a version of BakeryScan for pathologists. …

BRAIN began adapting BakeryScan to other domains and calling the core technology AI-Scan. AI-Scan algorithms have since been used to distinguish pills in hospitals, to count the number of people in an eighteenth-century ukiyo-e woodblock print, and to label the charms and amulets for sale in shrines. One company has used it to automatically detect incorrectly wired bolts in jet-engine parts.”

More in the long article at the New Yorker, here.

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