As part of Conversations on Artificial Intelligence, a webinar series hosted by the Caltech Science Exchange, two artificial intelligence (AI) researchers—Pietro Perona and Suzanne Stathatos—discussed AI’s potential as a powerful tool for wildlife conservation and biodiversity research.
Perona is the Allen E. Puckett Professor of Electrical Engineering at Caltech, and Stathatos is a graduate student who was a software engineer at Amazon and JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA, before coming to Caltech.
In conversation with Caltech science writer Robert Perkins, the engineers describe AI applications for identifying and tracking wildlife that offer fresh insights to biologists and other individuals interested in the environment. [Caltech story]
Researchers have now conducted a study in which they measured how mice navigate a complicated labyrinth, suggesting a new framework with which to study complex animal behaviors and learning. The mice rapidly learned how to navigate this unfamiliar environment about 1,000 times faster than mice generally learn simple yet unnatural tasks. The research is a collaboration between the laboratories of Markus Meister, Anne P. and Benjamin F. Biaggini Professor of Biological Sciences, and Pietro Perona, Allen E. Puckett Professor of Electrical Engineering. [Caltech story]
Pietro Perona, Allen E. Puckett Professor of Electrical Engineering, has been elevated as a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for contributions to visual recognition algorithms and datasets. The IEEE Fellow is one of the most prestigious honors of the IEEE, and is bestowed upon a very limited number of Senior Members who have contributed importantly to the advancement or application of engineering, science and technology. [Elevated class of 2021]
Thanks to Professor Pietro Perona and his graduate students including Grant Van Horn and Sara Beery, the next wildlife photo you snap might set you on a path to helping map life on Earth. “The whole web, this huge repository of wonderful information, is indexed by words,” Perona says. “But when we have an image—a visual query—we don’t know what to do unless there is an expert next to us. We’ve gotten so numb to the idea that we’ll never find the answer out.” [Breakthrough story]
Researchers from Caltech and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are collaborating in Pasadena to foster a relationship that could change the landscape of artificial intelligence (AI) research in Southern California. “Our graduate programs train extraordinarily talented future researchers, who mostly leave Pasadena after completing their PhD." An industry research center located nearby, however, can help retain talent locally, says Professor Pietro Perona one of the architects of the new collaboration. "Together, we can build a critical mass of machine-learning and AI researchers right here in Pasadena.” Primarily affiliated with Caltech via the CMS Department of the EAS Division, AWS will provide summer internships for Caltech students and students of other top universities, job opportunities for alumni, and the potential for collaborations between Caltech and AWS researchers. AWS is also contributing funding for Caltech projects and a pipeline for marketable research. AWS has already committed $2.5 million to Caltech for graduate student fellowships and cloud-computing credits in order to seed AI innovations. [Caltech story]
Caltech and Disney Research have entered into a joint research agreement to pioneer robotic control systems and further explore artificial intelligence technologies. Pietro Perona will work with Disney roboticist Martin Buehler to create navigation and perception software that could allow robotic characters to safely move through dense crowds and interact with people. Aaron Ames will work with Disney Research's Lanny Smoot to further explore robot autonomy and machine learning by creating objects that can self-navigate and perform stunts. Yisong Yue has been working with engineers from Disney Research on the use of machine learning to analyze the behavior of soccer players and to measure audience engagement. [Caltech story]
From autonomous robotics to state of-the-art computer vision, Caltech and Amazon have a lot in common, including the belief that pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will not only disrupt industries, but it will fundamentally change the nature of scientific research. As part of this two-year renewable research collaboration, Amazon will provide both financial support, in the form of funding for graduate fellowships, and computing resources, in the form of AWS Cloud credits, to accelerate the work of faculty and students at Caltech in these areas. [AWS AI Blog]
Computation and Neural Systems (CNS) at Caltech explores the relationship between the physical structure of a computational system and the dynamics of its operation, as well as the computational problems that it can efficiently solve. At the symposium Professor Pietro Perona told the audience, despite CNS's success, its faculty members never rest on their laurels; they regularly reevaluate whether to continue the option and how to evolve its scope to keep it intellectually vibrant. Professor Carver Mead remarked, “I think it's true that the fields we bring together in CNS really do synergize. The goals aren't so different. Because to build something you have to understand it. And if you understand it, you can build it. That's a saying that Dick Feynman got from me." [Caltech story]