Fascinating people, advanced technology, Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence

Computer Vision: A World Changing Technology – Part 1

One of the things that we as human beings easily do is see things. It is called “vision”. It is one of our greatest capabilities. It lets us know what is happening in our three dimensional world and lets us know when it’s happening and where it’s happening. Sight is truly a gift from God.


When we are hungry we can see where the food is. If there is danger we see it even if it is in our periphery. When we see a pretty woman we are delighted. In order to see we have eyes and we know that our eyes have retinas and pupils and optical nerves that connect directly with the brain. And we know that images come through our eyes, through the pupils and are directed to the back of our eyes where the optical nerves pick up the light waves and transmit them to the brain where they are interpreted.


Machines do not have the advantage of the human brain. Through machine learning they learn to mimic the brain with a fair amount of accuracy. Continuous training with more sessions and larger databases can begin to make systems seem as though they are seeing things and interpreting them correctly.




Dr. Larry Roberts is considered the Father of Computer Vision and the Father of The Internet. I was fortunate to work for Dr. Roberts when he was president of GTE Telenet as Telenet’s primary salesman in the upper Midwest. Dr. Roberts had been with ARPA and was the brain behind the CCITT X.25 packet switching protocol which evolved into TCP/IP.


In fact, Computer Vision and the Internet work well together. Users are most often remote from the computers processing Computer Vision. Rapidly, Artificial Intelligence is closely integrated with both of these domains.


In 1966, two of the early pioneers of artificial intelligence, Seymour Papert and Marvin Minsky launched a program called the Summer Vision Project, with the goal of creating a computer system that could identify objects in images. While the project did not pan out initially it laid the seeds in foundation you search by Kunihiko Fukushima and Yan LeCun to begin the Deep-Learning Revolution. Their work beginning in the late 1970s and into the 1980s and later began to be used by the U.S. Postal Service and bank corporations an envelope cheque reading.


They gave way to support vector machines and random forests and the eventual development of machine learning and deep learning which then became multilayered artificial neural networks.


Segments where Computer Vision is active:


  • Retail and retail security
  • Automotive
  • Healthcare
  • Agriculture
  • Banking
  • Industrial
  • Military Applications
  • Automation and Robotics
  • Government
  • Research and Development





Retail and Security

Cahierless Stores


One of the newest technologies, which I have yet to see, is cashierless stores. They have actually been around since 2016 initiated by Amazon and their Go stores. They are also known in some areas as Grab and Go.


The technology is based upon a combination of Computer Vision and AI. With hundreds of cameras placed throughout the store checking the customer and knowing the placement of every product system is able to keep track of every product every customer that has that product. Subsequently, the customer leaves the store his or her account has been charged. I have not seen any reports or statistics regarding people attempting to shoplift products.



Sweethearting Detection


NCR has acquired a company, StopLift Checkout Vision Systems, which develops application called ScanItAll is said to have the capability to detect “Sweethearting” which in industry terms means cashier’s away the merchandise without charge to a customer by doing fake scan or fake ringing up of merchandise. According to NCR have been more than 4 million occasions Sweethearting.


Robotic Inventory Taking


You may have already seen robots going down the aisle of your favorite grocery store or Target Store and seeing robots going down the aisle taking inventory what’s on the shelves.



Tesla Model S

 2020 Tesla Model S





According to Tesla “All new Tesla cars come standard with advanced hardware capable of providing Autopilot features today, in full self-driving capabilities in the future– through software updates designed to improve functionality over time.”


Some of the features include:

Narrow Forward Camera

Main Forward Camera

White Forward Camera


Forward-Looking Side Cameras


Rearview Camera

Rearward Looking Side Cameras


Get the details directly from Tesla


Having listened to the Amazon Audible book, “Elon Musk” by Ashley Vance, I’m pretty certain that Tesla has been ready for an autonomous vehicle for more than two years.




Ford Motor Company


Ford has a subsidiary, Quantum Signal AI, that is helping Ford develop core strengths in Computer Vision, AI, robotics, and simulation in order to develop autonomous vehicles. According to industry experts quantum plans to launch a commercial self-driving service sometime in 2021.


Additionally Ford Motor invested $1 billion in Argo AI which is helping Ford develop its self-driving systems.


General Motors


In July 2018 and updated in August 2018, the Detroit Free Press published an article “How General Motors is leading the race for self-driving cars”, in which they counted GM to be way ahead of any of the competition even had a Graph showing Tesla to not even be in the game. Two weeks later Detroit Free Press published another article stating that “GM says consumers can do ride sharing next year in self-driving cars.”


The car they are talking about is the Cruise which is the result of the joint venture that General Motors participated in beginning in 2016. The Cruise was originally Chevrolet Bolt. Progress and news hype are two different things. Current discussion and articles say that the Cruise AV will be available sometime in 2021


I have very little doubt General Motors will come out with a good working product with self driving automobiles. It just is taking longer than predicted.


Fiat Chrysler, BMW, Intel, Mobileye, Google, (and the Planet Pluto?) have all been collaborating with each other At  one time or another since 2016 to bring solutions for fully automated driving into production by 2021 according to the FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES (FCA) website.




According to healthimages.com 70 million MRIs and CT Scans are performed every year. That means that every minute of every hour 133 new scans are being done. Our healthcare system is dependent on images. In addition to that, doctors are dependent on patient’s descriptions of their symptoms thus forcing doctors spend more time triaging and asking more background information. Natural Language Processing (NLP), Computer Vision, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are rapidly becoming necessary tools required to assist our doctors and other healthcare professionals.



                                                                                                                          Mayo Clinic CIO Chris Ross at Health 2.0


Chris Ross Mayo Clinic Chief Information Officer, where I go to every year because of lifesaving surgeries I’ve had, said at the Health 2.0 Conference last September, “This artificial intelligence stuff is real and it is coming quickly to the care setting near you.”


In 2018, Mayo completed a huge four-year, 90 hospital, $1.5 billion Epic integrated hospital system. In January 2020 they announced their Clinical Data Analytics Platform as their first venture under the Mayo Clinic Platform through understanding and knowledge derived by data.


Mayo Clinic has been leading the medical community for 150 years and you can expect other leading organizations such as Johns Hopkins and Cleveland Clinic to follow suit.

We just might want to keep an eye on this robot

In July I wrote a post “NASA has Launched a sort of HAL-like Robot to help an Astronaut on the ISS” about the cool new floating robot the European Space Agency (ESA) sent to the ISS. Its name is CIMON (pronounced Sigh Mon) and it was fun to watch and speculate about how it would help astronauts in the future.


It has now been six months and there has been a potentially disconcerting change as CIMON matures. According to the Quartz publication’s Nicholas Rivero, CIMON has gotten a little testy for what is supposed to be a friendly helping assistant. Astronaut Alexander Gerst asked CIMON to play some of Gerst’s favorite music. Instead CIMON played a song called “The Man-Machine” which annoyed Gerst and he asked the robot to please stop playing.


What followed seemed to be a tug of wills. It became reminiscent of HAL 9000. It may not be quite as creepy but I’m just sayin’.


The Pentagon’s Project Maven

Project Maven is an Artificial Intelligence system that assists human operators in finding objects of interest to the military. It is based on Machine Learning algorithms from very large databases of information. It is what the Department of Defense calls a “Pathfinder” meaning that is the beginning of a significant direction that the Pentagon has determined to go.


An example of a Project Maven user is the Special Operations Command (SOCOM). There are thousands of hours of video and pictures stored of information for their zones of operation. Commandos need specific information about their operations they can greatly be enhanced by the use of Artificial Intelligence. The Project Maven machine learning algorithm can be used to spot a specific kind of anomaly a huge database of information. Much of that requires visual recognition.


In September 2018 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced it will invest up to $2 billion over the next five years. That announcement was made by DARPA director Stephen Walker saying that the agency was to explore “how machines can acquire humanlike communication and reasoning capabilities.” I first became familiar with DARPA in 1980 when it was known as ARPA when I was a regional manager for Research Inc. managing the Eastern United States for its computer terminal sales to universities and businesses. I became most familiar with ARPA when I became the North Central sales representative for GTE Telenet selling their X.25 product from Bolt Beraneck and Newman which was directly active with ARPA in its development. That was the direct forerunner to the Internet.


DARPA has said that the $2 billion with fund projects over and above the 20 AI projects the Pentagon has going now. (Google, the primary contractor for Project Maven has said they are pulling out of the program. Thousands of Google employees signed the petition for Google to get out of the project and top management caved in to that demand.) According to Peter Highnam, the deputy director of DARPA, “hundreds if not thousands” of schools and companies have bid “aggressively” on these programs.


There is a good chance that Microsoft and Nvidia, and maybe Amazon, will go after this business. Google’s AI software – Tensorflow – is being used by the US military drone program. Fortunately for everyone, Google made Tensorflow open source.


As of December 2018 the DOD who oversaw Project Maven leads its new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) which will coordinate AI research across the Department, government labs, and private companies. The goal of this is to speed up the process of getting AI tools to the war fighters.


There is a sense of urgency to this. China does not operate with the same legal constraints that the US has, and they can mandate that companies such as Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent must comply with the Communist Party’s wishes. We also don’t know how much technology has been transferred to the Chinese by American companies doing business in China. Russia is not a leader in Artificial Intelligence but it has a large base of students could be conscripted to train fairly fast.





Claude E. Shannon: Another Contemporary Giant and the Father of Information Theory Lost to Eternity


The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Spectrum (IEEE) ran a Special Edition about Claude Shannon, which they called Tinkerer, Prankster, and Father of Information Theory in its April 1992 issue because he was so revered by the scientific community.

He was born in Petoskey, Michigan (April 30, 1916 – February 24, 2001) to Claude Senior and Mabel Wolf Shannon. Both were smart and well educated.

At the age of 16 years, Shannon graduated from Gaylord High School. He had an inclination toward mechanical and electrical things. That year he entered the University of Michigan where he took a course that introduced him to the mathematics of George Boole. In 1936, at the age of 20,  he graduated from UMich with bachelor’s degrees in engineering and mathematics. That same year he began his graduate studies in electrical engineering at MIT.

At MIT, he worked on Vannevar Bush’s Differential Analyzer an early analog computer. During this period Shannon designed circuits based upon George Boole’s concepts. In 1937, he wrote his master’s thesis, A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits. But Shannon didn’t stop there.

Vannevar Bush suggested that Shannon should work on his doctoral dissertation at the Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory, a private nonprofit institution located in Cold Spring Harbor, New York in order to develop Mendelian genetics. This resulted in Shannon’s PhD thesis An Algebra for Theoretical Genetics. He received his PhD degree from MIT in 1940.

From his work and logic circuits, he simplified the relays that were used in call routing switches, and proved that his circuits could solve the same problems that Boolean algebra code solve.                                     

In 1940, he became a National Research Fellow with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. This gave him the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with such people as Herman Weyl and John von Neumann. Occasionally he met with Kurt Godel and Albert Einstein.

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Artificial Intelligence has a Strong Foundation in World War Two Cryptanalysis

For more than a year I have posited that Artificial Intelligence has a strong foundation in World War II cryptanalysis. Yet, in my research I have not seen discussions of this. If I am right and can show that my posit is true it may be of little or no importance. But, it may answer not yet asked questions. There is a string that goes through three of the founders of Artificial Intelligence and a modern scientist: Alan Turing, Claude Shannon, John McCarthy, and Ron Rivest.

Alan Turing and Claude Shannon were both cryptographers and Ron Rivest is a cryptographer. Alan Turing and Claude Shannon worked together for two months during World War II. John McCarthy and Ron Rivest were both Turing award winners. Claude Shannon was at the 1956 Dartmouth Artificial Intelligence Conference founded by John McCarthy.

Additionally, Alan Turing and John McCarthy are both considered fathers of Artificial Intelligence and Claude Shannon is considered the father of Information Theory. Ron Rivest is an Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the highest title that can be awarded to a professor at MIT. He is also Co-inventor of the RSA (cryptosystem) algorithm; founder of Verisign, and RSA Security. These have to do with public keys.

Alan Turing

Alan Turing was born in June 23, 1912 and Maida Vale, London, England to Julius Mathison Turing and Ethel Sara Turing. The greater part of Alan’s elementary education was done at Sherborne School which origins date back to the eighth century. His brilliance is continually acknowledged in elementary as well as undergraduate school at King’s College, Cambridge, where he was awarded first class honors in mathematics. It was there that he invented Turing machines.

Among the things that Alan Turing became famous for his work at Benchley Park and breaking the Enigma code. In September 1938, he began working part-time with the GC&CS British code breaking organization. During that same period of time, the Polish Cipher Bureau created a machine with Enigma routers and in a Warsaw meeting in July 1939 presented the British and French with the wiring of their machine. The weakness of the Polish method was it depended on an insecure procedure that the Germans were likely to and did change in May 1940. Continue reading

NASA has Launched a sort of HAL-like Robot to help an Astronaut on the ISS

This morning I had the pleasure to watch the SpaceX cargo ship berth with the International Space Station on NASA TV. It began at 8 AM CDT and lasted 52 minutes total. The cargo ship was retrieved with the Canadian robotic arm and then slowly moved by inches to the docking port on the ISS and finally attached after being properly aligned with six bolts. The recycled SpaceX Falcon 9 launched on Friday, June 29, with the first Artificially Intelligent Robot into space  from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The AI robot is named CIMON (pronounced Simon). It is an acronym for Crew Interactive MObile companioN.

The CIMON Robot is basketball sized and is primarily intended to act as a companion and assistant with German astronaut Alexander Gerst. It has a cartoon face. The designers say will be used to interact with humans on the ISS.

Airbus developed CIMON for Germany’s national space agency. The Artificial Intelligence is provided by IBM’s Watson. While the experiment will be conducted primarily with Gerst, CIMON is expected to interact with any astronaut that calls it’s name.

According to Matthias Biniok, an engineer for IBM and one of the lead architects behind CIMON’s Artificial Intelligence, “the concept of CIMON was inspired by a 197os science fiction comic series set in space, about a sentient, brain shaped robot named Prof. Simon that mentors an astronaut named Captain Future.” Continue reading