A neural network created by connecting 16,000 computer processors appears to support biologists’ theories on how the human brain identifies objects. Hint: It’s all about the cats.
Google scientists working in the company’s secretive X Labs have made great strides in using computers to simulate the human brain.
Best known for inventing self-driving cars and augmented-reality eyewear, the lab created a neural network for machine learning by connecting 16,000 computer processors and then unleashed it on the Internet. Along the way, the network taught itself to recognize cats.
While the act of finding cats on the Internet doesn’t sound all that challenging, the network’s performance exceeded researchers’ expectations, doubling its accuracy rate in identifying objects from a list of 20,000 items, according to a New York Times report.
To find the cats, the team fed the network thumbnail images chosen at random from more than 10 billion YouTube videos. The results appeared to support biologists’ theories that suggest that neurons in the brain are trained to identify specific objects.
“We never told it during the training, ‘This is a cat,'” Google fellow Jeff Dean told the newspaper. “It basically invented the concept of a cat.”
Falling computing costs has led to significant advancements in areas of computer science such as machine vision, speech recognition, and language translation, The Times noted.
Machine learning is useful for improving translation algorithms and semantic understanding and a favorite topic of Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, according to Google.
LOS ANGELES — Thriller, a tiger that belonged to Michael Jackson when the entertainer lived at Neverland, has died of lung cancer at Tippi Hedren’s wildlife preserve near Los Angeles.
Hedren says the 13-year-old, 375-pound tiger died June 11. An autopsy was performed and the tiger was cremated.
Hedren says Thriller and brother Sabu were born in 1998 and lived with Jackson until 2006 when Jackson left Neverland. Jackson’s veterinarian asked Hedren to take the cats at her Shambala Preserve in Acton. She says a $79,000 compound was built on a lake and Thriller had a great life with Sabu.
Despite Jackson’s love of animals, Hedren says he never called to check on the tigers and never sent any money to help pay for their care.
Jackson died in June 2009.
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/06/27/4593865/michael-jacksons-tiger-dies-of.html#storylink=cpy
Caged cougar bites Newark social worker
at Evelyn Shaw’s home in Pataskala, OH
Social worker was assessing home for child placement; charges not filed
PATASKALA — A caged mountain lion bit a social worker Monday in the city, but whether charges will be filed was unknown as of Tuesday.
According to a Pataskala police report, Evelyn Shaw, who lives at 13262 Cleveland Road, was showing an employee from Licking County Job and Family Services, identified as Cindy K. Robson, 51, of Newark, around her home.
Robson was there, according to the police report, to assess the home to place two children there.
Shaw took Robson to her backyard, where Shaw keeps a mountain lion in a cage. Shaw reportedly told the social worker the mountain lion had no teeth, according to the police report, but when Robson was walking next to the cage, the mountain lion bit one of her fingers, drawing blood, according to the report.
Robson and Shaw then went to Mount Carmel East Hospital, where Robson was treated and released.
Police reported the incident to Bill Bullard, the state wildlife officer and supervisor in charge of six counties, including Licking County.
Pataskala Police, as of Tuesday, had not filed any charges related to the case. Police Chief Bruce Brooks said charges might be unlikely if Robson stuck her hand inside or near the mountain lion’s cage.
John Fisher, director of Licking County Job and Family Services, said Tuesday he was aware of the incident. Fisher said he could not comment on why Robson was at home because of privacy laws, but according to a 10TV report, Shaw is seeking custody of her two 3-year-old nieces.
“What you have in the police report is basically what you have,” he said.
Fisher did say social workers have had run-ins with dogs but not mountain lions.
“We’ve ran into situations with dogs and other animals you’d expect, but nothing with this type of situation before,” said Fisher, adding Robson had not returned to work Tuesday.
Bullard, meanwhile, said current state law places exotic animal oversight in the hands of the local sheriff’s offices, and the Licking County Sheriff’s Office had been sent a copy of the Pataskala Police report on the incident.
Gov. John Kasich signed a new exotic animals bill earlier this month that will place the oversight of exotic animals in the hands of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Bullard said.
Senate Bill 310, which Kasich signed, requires the owners of large cats, bears and other exotic animals to register them by Jan. 1, 2014. It also requires background checks for owners, the purchase of liability insurance or surety bonds and mandates owners properly contain their exotic animals.
Owners also must post signs warning people exotic animals are on their property.
Shaw has expressed her opposition to the bill in hearings.
A board member for the U.S. Zoological Association and Uniting a Politically Proactive Exotic Animal League, she long has been a proponent of exotic animal ownership and has helped agencies track down escaped exotic animals.
In 2003, two of her African servals escaped from her home. The cats, which looked like small cheetahs and are relatively small and timid, prompted a search, led by police, according to Advocate archives.
The pair eventually ran in front of passing traffic, were struck and died from their injuries.
Since that time, Shaw has spoken on several occasions before Pataskala City Council in opposition to placing greater restrictions on the ownership of exotic animals.
Shaw did not return calls from The Advocate requesting comment.
Camera spies Siberian tiger strolling into China
Russian Tiger Heads To China
Evidence suggests endangered species may be expanding range from Russia
Photos of the endangered Amur, or Siberian tiger, have been taken for the first time by a camera trap in a nature reserve in northeast China, suggesting that the cats are expanding their range south from Russia where they are more plentiful.
The two photos were taken in April in the Wangqing Nature Reserve in northeast China’s Changbai Mountains. The tiger likely came from Hunchun, close to the Russian border, where multiple images of Siberian tigers were taken in March. Several Amur leopards, which are even more endangered, were also spotted at that time in the Hunchun reserve.
Although footprints of the Amur tiger have been discovered many times in the Wangqing area since 2008, this is the first time that a camera trap set up in the reserve has captured photos of the rare species. Experts will try to identify the individual tiger photographed by comparing it with the Hunchun photos, according to a statement from the conservation organization WWF, which helped set up the cameras.
“The photos give hope of the real possibility that tigers could return to their previous habitat if steps are taken to manage it,” said Zhu Jiang, head of WWF-China’s Northeast Program Office, in the statement. “It shows that the camera trap is a very effective tool in monitoring rare wildlife species. We have to expand its use.”
The WWF and other groups are working together to set up automatic infrared cameras to build the monitoring platform to cover areas of Amur tiger habitat elsewhere in the Changbai and nearby Wanda mountains.
“Data collected through this technology will help greatly in monitoring the Amur tiger population and its distribution,” said Jiang Jinsong, Jilin Forestry Department’s tiger and leopard program officer. “It would also help us determine whether there are settled individuals or breeding families, and therefore support conservation measures.”
Amur tigers were once widespread in northeast China, but have declined due to habitat degradation and fragmentation, poaching and a small prey base. Estimates put the current wild Amur tiger population in northeast China, mostly confined to the Changbai Mountains in Jilin province and the Wanda mountains in Heilongjian province, at about 18 to 24 individuals. About 430 to 500 live in the forests to the north in Russia.
Kenya Wildlife Service have recaptured a lioness and her two cubs found roaming in Mukoma Road area in Lang’ata. Reliable sources said the lioness is the same one captured in early May. She escaped from the holding pen at the KWS headquarters after chewing through the wiring two weeks ago. Once she escaped, she returned to Mukoma road in an effort to reunite with her cubs and was subsequently spotted.
Michael Mbithi of the Nairobi Park Lions project said: “This is actually the second time such a thing has happened. In 2005 a lion named Adimu also escaped from the vet holding facility and made his way through the Safari Walk all the way to Athi Kapiti plains in 24 hours.” The lioness and her two cubs are currently at the veterinary holding facility awaiting a decision on relocation. In the meantime, a search is ongoing for a suspected third cub that was with the lioness that wasn’t captured.
The Nairobi National Park fence line has been breached by lions in the recent past as they seek safer territory for their cubs. The fence line has been vandalised in some areas, according to sources, and in other cases warthogs have dug under the fence, leaving open spaces for the lions to roam out.Elsewhere, farmers in Empakasi, Kitengela plains, Kajiado County, are counting loses after some 20 stray lions from the Nairobi National Park invaded their farms and ate more than 80 goats and eight cows in the last three weeks.
The lions attempted again to kill many more yesterday morning but they were driven away by Maasai morans after the big cats killed one heifer belonging to Joseph Matunke. Mzee Matunke said the lions descended on his home in Empakasi as early as 5am and broke open the gates into his cow shed but morans who have taken to guarding their livestock arrived almost immediately and fought off the cats. Already one of the lions had killed one heifer.
Residents said the lions have been attacking the livestock since the end of last month and that their attempts to deliver their grievances to the Kenya Wildlife Service has never materialised. “We have been calling them but they do not respond to our grievances. What we want is the protection of our livestock,” said Peter Senteu. James Turere, the chairman of Kitengela Elparkuo Land Owners Association, who was present at Mzee Matunke’s home warned KWS that the farmers will be forced to act against the lions if they will not come and protect their livestock. “We have waited for so long for the government to pass a Wildlife Bill on compensation that is expected to help the farmers living along the wildlife corridors. Our people solely depend on livestock and if the big cats are left to kill their cows and goats at that rate, then their lives will be in danger,” said Turere.
Early in the year, morans from a neighbouring village of Shorinke killed three lions after they had attacked their livestock. Their action caused the KWS officials to act immediately. At that time officials from the KWS visited the scene and promised the farmers that they will be paid consolation fees for the loses they incurred after the lion attacks on their livestock. They were later paid some Sh5 million which the KWS said was a consolation fee.
Currently, there is no law that governs compensation of eaten livestock by wildlife and the KWS and their friends from the diaspora have been engaged in raising funds abroad for the purposes of consolation fees for farmers in Kajiado county and other parts where wildlife share water and grazing resources.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Akash, one of Thiruvananthapuram zoo’s most pampered possessions, won’t walk again. The one-year-old male lion cub has been paralyzed after both its hind legs weakened irremediably.
The cub, which used to hop around jauntily, began to wobble a week ago. Two days back things worsened. Akash would try every now and then to lift himself only to collapse on the floor of the cage. He visibly writhes in pain every time he strains to stand up and play with his sister Aradhana, who is of the same age.
“He was born with defective limbs. But we never expected this to happen so suddenly. Now all we can do is administer some pain killers just to make him feel good,” a zoo official said. Although the zoo officials mulled over physiotherapy, they dismissed the idea due to the genetic nature of the defect. ”Since it is congenital there is nothing much we can do. Even physiotherapy is unlikely to produce any fruitful results,” the official added.It is learnt that a few weeks ago, the cub suffered an injury on its leg after a fall that . ”The fall might have hastened the paralysis.
We had always taken special care of Akash. We had even separated him from Aradhana for sometime and fed it separately,” another zoo official said.
The paralyzed lion cub will soon be made an off-exhibit and shifted to a separate enclosure.
The sorry fate of the cub has of course put the authorities in a serious dilemma. As per the guidelines of Central Zoo Authority, euthanasia or mercy killing is not allowed for animals in a zoo. Zoo rules, 2009, however, says that euthanasia is allowed in certain cases.
In case the authorities desist from mercy killing, it is likely that Akash will have to spend the rest of his life prone on a cage floor, without being able to stand or walk.