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Computers Need Your Help In Image Recognition

A "cortically-coupled computer vision system," known as C3 Vision, has been created by Professor Paul Sajda and colleagues at Columbia University. This brain computer interface system makes searching through large volumes of imagery more efficient.


(C3 Vision video)

(I've been having some problems with this video, problems also seen at the parent site. In the meantime, try this 2008 video in which Sajda describes his work.)

When the brain has a flash of recognition--an image it has seen before or an object it is looking for--it emits a signal that can be detected by an electroencephalogram (EEG). When EEG electrodes are attached to a subject's scalp (see illustration above), the system can monitor changes in the brain's electrical activity as the subject watches a video that runs at 10 times its normal speed.

"We are able to detect the neural correlate to the conscious recognition of an object," says Professor Sajda, "the equivalent of the ‘aha' moment." A change in the neural signature indicates a flash of recognition. When detected by the new technology, the images are flagged and reviewed more carefully.

This technology may be used to quickly review hours of surveillance tapes for face recognition or signs of suspicious activity. It also might have applications for review of visual medical information, such as X-rays or MRIs.

This human object recognition was presaged in Harry Harrison's 1956 short story The Velvet Glove

"... whenever a robot finds something it can't identify straight off... it puts whatever it is in the hopper outside your window. You give it a good look, check the list for the proper category if you're not sure, then press the right button and in she goes."

An hour passed before he had his first identification to make. A robot stopped in mid-dump, ground its gears a moment, and then dropped a dead cat into Carl's hopper... Something heavy had dropped on the cat, reducing the lower part of its body to paper-thinness.

Castings... Cast Iron... Cats... There was the bin number. Nine.

I should also mention Ava learning software from The Calcutta Chromosome, a 1995 novel by Amitav Ghosh. In the story, Ava is an artificial intelligence program that has human help in identifying objects:

Antar had met children who were like that: Why? What? When? Where? How? But children asked because they were curious; with these AVA/Iie systems it was something else - something that he could only think of as a simulated urge for self-improvement. ..

She wouldn't stop until Antar had told her everything he knew about whatever it was that she was playing with on her screen…

Support for developing and testing C3Vision technology comes from DARPA. Professor Sajda is Principal Investigator for a $2.6 million grant, with Truman Brown, Hudson Professor of Biomedical Engineering and professor of radiology, and Prof. Shih-Fu Chang of Electrical Engineering as co-PIs.

From Columbia via MIT's Technology Review.

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