The Register: AI threatens yet more jobs – now, lab rats: Animal testing could be on the way out, thanks to machine learning. “Machine learning algorithms can help scientists predict chemical toxicity to a similar degree of accuracy as animal testing, according to a paper published this week in Toxicological Sciences. A whopping €3bn (over $3.5bn) is spent every year to study how the negative impacts of chemicals on animals like rats, rabbits or monkeys.”
The Atlantic: A Game-Changing AI Tool for Tracking Animal Movements. “Developed this year by Mackenzie Mathis and Alexander Mathis, a pair of married neuroscientists, DeepLabCut is remarkable in its simplicity. It has allowed researchers to download any video from the internet and digitally label specific body parts in a few dozen frames. The tool then learns how to pick out those same features in the rest of the video, or others like it. And it works across species, from laboratory stalwarts like flies and mice to … more unusual animals.”
Boing Boing: Wildbook: facial recognition for critters in the wild. “The Wildbook project conducts wild animal population censuses by combining photos of animals taken by tourists, scientists, and volunteers and then using their distinctive features (zebra stripes, whale fluke shapes, leopard spots, etc) to identify individuals and produces unprecedented data that uses creepy facial recognition tools for non-creepy purposes.”
University of Southern California: Scientist’s new database can help protect wildlife from harmful hues of LED lights. “A new generation of outdoor lights spreading across landscapes require greater scrutiny to reduce harm to wildlife, says a USC-led research group that developed a new tool to help fix the problem. The team of biologists surveyed select species around the world to determine how the hues of modern light-emitting diode (LED) lamps affect wildlife. They found that blues and whites are worst, while yellow, amber and green are more benign. Some creatures, including sea turtles and insects, are especially vulnerable. The findings, which include the first publicly available database to help developers, designers and policymakers choose wildlife-friendly lighting colors, appear today in the Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology.”
CNBC: Pets are the new social media inflencer, and this Harvard Law grad represents many of them. “The Kardashians aren’t the only ones able to make a career from posting on social media. A new wave of dogs, cats, monkeys — and even a possum — are fetching big bucks and wide followings as influencers on social media. Star pet talent agent Loni Edwards has a roster of unique clients include @realdiddykong, 2 monkeys with over a million Instagram followers; @hamlet_the_piggy, with over 300,000; and @itsmesesame, the rescue opossum with over 62,000; and @lionelthehog, who boasts over 130,000 followers.”
New-to-Me: ZooScope — a database of animals in movies. From the About page: “Animals have played a crucial role in the development of film as an artistic medium, from the literal use of animal products in film stock to the capturing of animal movement as a driver of stop-motion, wide-screen and CGI film technology. In terms of content and form, the wish to picture animals’ lives, whether naturalistically or playfully, has led to the establishment of key genres such as wildlife film and animation. ZooScope looks at and beyond these major aspects of animals in film, and entries can consider, inter alia: animals’ role in film genres and styles from arthouse to documentary to horror; the range of literal and symbolic ways animals appear in film; animals in the film star- system; animal lives and the ethics of film-making; adaptation and the different challenges of filmic and literary representation of animals.” I think the site does not desire to be as wide as it is deep; it did not have the 1973 animated version of Charlotte’s Web but did have the 2006 version with an extensive article.
American Veterinarian: Online Database of Canine Inherited Genetic Disorders Now Available. “In the largest canine genetics study to date, researchers from Wisdom Health and Genoscoper Laboratories examined the prevalence of 152 genetic diseases in more than 100,000 mixed-breed and purebred dogs. This study—the first of its kind to show the genetic diseases that both mixed-breed and purebred dogs are most likely to develop—has enabled the creation of My Breed Data, an online respository about inherited genetic disorders that will enable veterinary practitioners to make more informed decisions for their patients.”