Saturday, December 05, 2009

Seeing 20 20



Looks like robots will be seeing a lot clearer sooner thanks to graphics processors and a biological approach to coding.

"Using Graphics Processing Units (GPUs), the same technology video game designers use to render life-like graphics, researchers are now making progress faster than ever before. A new study, co-led by David Cox, Principal Investigator of the Visual Neuroscience Group at the Rowland Institute at Harvard, and Nicolas Pinto, a Ph.D. Candidate in James DiCarlo's laboratory at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, was published in the November 26th issue of PLoS Computational Biology...

o tackle this problem, the team drew inspiration from screening techniques in molecular biology, where a multitude of candidate organisms or compounds are screened in parallel to find those that have a particular property of interest. Rather than building a single model and seeing how well it could recognize visual objects, the team constructed thousands of candidate models, and screened for those that performed best on an object recognition task.

The resulting models outperformed a crop of state-of-the-art computer vision systems across a range of test sets, more accurately identifying a range of objects on random natural backgrounds with variation in position, scale, and rotation.

Using ordinary computer processing units, the effort would have required either years of time or millions of dollars of computing hardware. Instead, by harnessing modern graphics hardware, the analysis was done in just one week, and at a small fraction of the cost.


"GPUs are a real game-changer for scientific computing. We made a powerful parallel computing system from cheap, readily available off-the-shelf components, delivering over hundred-fold speed-ups relative to conventional methods," says Pinto. "With this expanded computational power, we can discover new vision models that traditional methods miss."


To get the total picture to see why this research is so powerful, click on the PLOS Computational Biology graphic. You won't be sorry.

John Connor: Can you learn stuff you haven't been programmed with so you could be... you know, more human? And not such a dork all the time?
The Terminator: My CPU is a neural net processor; a learning computer. But Skynet pre-sets the switch to read-only when we're sent out alone.
Sarah Connor: Doesn't want you doing too much thinking, huh?
The Terminator: No.
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