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Artificial intelligence and machine learning will prevent unfortunate encounters with other species.
The World Health Organization estimates that about five million snake bites occur worldwide each year. Approximately half of these bites inoculate venom. Of those, about one hundred honey lead to the death of the victim. Fatal incidents with spiders are less common, but there are equally deadly species, such as the dreaded black widow. Some Australian developers have now created an algorithm capable of identifying venomous snakes and spiders, which aspires to be the "Shazam" for venomous species. The app that uses this artificial intelligence engine will be installed in any smartphone and, with a little luck, contribute to improving the relationship between insects, reptiles, and humans.
One of the challenges when designing this innovative technology has been the subtle differences between poisonous and harmless species. In fact, there are species free of poison that "disguise" themselves from others with toxic bites by adopting similar patterns and colors in their appearance. To overcome this obstacle, they have used machine learning, analyzing thousands of photographs from expert entomologists and zoologists archives.
Despite its obvious usefulness, the developers have been cautious about launching it. This is understandable, given that a misidentification could cost lives. That's why they keep feeding the AI bike with new images tagged by experts. The app is in beta phase, although you can already get early access if you wish by requesting it here.
Ultimately, this technology aims to reduce the stigma around snakes and spiders, which play an essential role in their respective ecosystems. Interestingly, Australia, the country where the app has been developed, records a low number of deadly spider bites. Such statistic is further confirmation, as is the case with sharks, that the risks posed by these species are sometimes blown out of proportion.
A stroll in the countryside always offers mysteries of its own. What kind of tree is that? And that bird perched on the branch, is it a robin? Luckily, AI technologies have been applied to species detection for a long time, whether in botanical, ornithological or other categories. Like Song Sleuth, some, instead of using images, record the trill of birds and look for the corresponding species. Also, there are apps for the identification of plants and flowers. More ambitious apps cover both the plant and animal kingdom, facilitating the recognition of all types of species. Or even an app capable of distinguishing between the dozens of existing cloud formations. In short, artificial intelligence is helping us learn more about the natural world and its infinite wealth.