Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Is that a knife in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?

A nice example of a practical application of AI (artificial intelligence) software here, a portable microwave scanner can be pointed at a suspect at distance, and a rapid analysis of the signals bouncing back can be used to determine if the person is carrying a concealed gun or a knife.

The computing power required to do this is significant, and this kind of thing is only just now becoming feasible (cost and size wise) with recent advances in the commercialisation of multi-processor hardware and suitable software written specifically to take advantage of it.

AI and computing to do this kind of thing is what my company is focused on at the moment. For those who haven't come across it before a neural network in software typically works by modelling the way the human brain functions, in that lots of "neurons" or separate processing nodes act in unison to take a set of inputs and "convert" them into an answer. The cool thing about neural nets is that they are capable of learning in the sense that the same network of "virtual" neurons can be "trained" to solve many different problems. I use this kind of technology to help develop software to match a set of interests that a person or company might have (i.e. news about my competitors) with freely available information on the internet, the idea being that the system can provide "surveillance", its kind of like having your own private detective sniffing around and picking up useful and interesting information for you 24X7 with no effort on your part (that's the theory anyway!)

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