The Columbia Chronicle

Mass incarceration requires mass reform

March 28, 2016

The next president of the United States has a big job awaiting and hands full of issues needing leadership. Mass incarceration is one of those issues.The crime rate in the United States is similar to that of other stable, developed countries, but incarceration rates are much higher, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, a non-partisan advocacy group.The United States holds 4 percent of the world’s overall populatio...

City leaders propose ideas to support ‘black futures’

City leaders propose ideas to support ‘black futures’

February 15, 2016

More than 400 high school students from across Chicago packed into the Jones College Prep High School auditorium Feb. 6 for the Youth Voice Congress, where students met with their peers and elected officia...

Cooking robot may offer artificial culinary intelligence

By Sports & Health Editor

January 26, 2015

One of the greatest questions in developing of artificial intelligence is how to provide robots with a software template that enables them to recognize objects and learn actions by watching humans. Researchers from the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies and the National Information Communications Technology Research Centre of Excellence in Australia have developed a software system that allows robots to learn actions and make inferences by watching cooking videos from YouTube.“It’s very difficult [to teach robots] actions where something is manipulated because there’s a lot of variation in the way the action happens,” said co-author Cornelia Fermüller, a research scientist at the University of Maryland’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies. “If I do it or someone else does it, we do it very differently. We could use different tools so you have to find a way of capturing this variation. ”The intelligent system that enabled the robot to glean information from the videos includes two artificial neural networks that mimic the human eye’s processing resulting in object recognition, according to the study. The networks enabled the robot to recognize objects it viewed in the videos and determine the type of grasp required to manipulate objects such as knives and tomatoes when chopping, dicing and preparing food. “In addition to [accounting for variation] there is the difficulty involved in capturing it visually,” Fermüller said. “We’ve looked at the goal of the task and then decomposed it on the basis of that.”Fermüller said the group classified the two types of grasping the robot performed as “power” versus “precision.” Broadly, power grasping is used when an object needs to be held firmly in order to apply force—like when holding a knife to make a cut. Holding a tomato in place to stabilize it is considered precision grasping—a more fine-grain action that calls for accuracy, according to the paper. When observing human activity in real life, robotic systems are able to perceive the movements and objects they are designed to recognize in three dimensions over time, Fermüller said. However, when the movement and objects are viewed in a video, that information is not as immediately understood. “The way we think of videos is as a three-dimensional entity in the sense that there are two dimensions of space and one dimension of time,” said Jason Corso, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan. “It’s not as 3D as the world we live in, but one can use a video … which is a spacetime signal, and from it correspond feature points that could be used to reconstruct the 3D environment that is being seen or imaged in that video.”According to the paper, the development of deep neural networks that are able to efficiently capture raw data from video and enable robots to perceive actions and objects have revolutionized how visual recognition in artificially intelligent systems function. The algorithms programmed into the University of Maryland’s cooking robot are one example of this neural functioning.“So what was used here was really the hand description and object tool description, and then the action was inferred out of that,” Fermüller said. Previous research on robotic manipulation and action recognition has been conducted using hand trackers and motion capture gloves to overcome the inherent limitations of trying to design artificial intelligence that can learn by example, she said. “Part of the problem is that robot hands today are so behind what biological manipulation is capable of,” said Ken Forbus, a professor of computer science and education at Northwestern University. “We have more dynamic range in terms of our touch sensing. It’s very, very difficult to calibrate, as there’s all sorts of problems that might be real problems and any system is going to have to solve them.”Forbus said some of the difficulty that presents itself in robotic design arises from the fact that the tools robots are outfitted with are far behind the ones humans are born with both physically and in terms of sense perception.“There is tons of tacit knowledge in human understanding—tons,” Forbus said. “Not just in manipulation, [but] in conceptual knowledge.”According to Forbus, artificial intelligence researchers have three ways to incorporate this type of conceptual thinking into intelligent systems. The first option is to try to design robots that can think and analyze in a manner superior to humans, and the second is articulating the tacit knowledge that humans possess by trying to boil it down into a programmable set of rules. The third way is to attempt to model the AI on the type of analogical thinking humans use as they discern information and make generalizations that help provide a framework for how to act during future experiences. “That’s a model that’s daunting in the sense that it requires lots and lots of [programmed] experience,” Forbus said. “But it’s promising in that if we can make analogical generalization work in scale … it’s going to be a very human-like way of doing it.”

Pediatric medicine’s damaging oversight

Pediatric medicine’s damaging oversight

October 13, 2014

In 1889, pediatric surgeon William Hill was removing the tonsils from children with obstructed airways to alleviate their struggles with breathing when he noticed unforeseen side effects of the procedure. T...

Teachers want CPS to “Let Them Teach”

March 17, 2014

Angry parents, teachers and Chicago Teacher's Union members gathered March 10 outside the Teacher's Academy of Math and Science, 501 W. 35th St., to boycott the Illinois Standard Achievement Test and ...

Grocery chains acquire vacant Dominick’s stores

By Sarah Madera

February 24, 2014

After major grocer Dominick’s left Chicago and its suburbs in January, neighborhoods have welcomed announcements that grocers such as Whole Foods and Mariano’s Fresh markets will take over many of vacated stores once occupied.Dominick’s parent company, Safeway Inc., announced Oct. 10 that it would exit the Chicagoland market, leaving 72 empty stores, 15 located in the city of Chicago, for grocery chains such as Cermak Fr...

Turning a positive into a negative

Turning a positive into a negative

February 17, 2014

Seven years ago, the only thing Rashid Bashir, leading developer and head of the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his researchers needed to revolutioni...

Chicago native extends Wolves winning streak to three games

By Nader Ihmoud

October 17, 2012

Contributing Writer: Joshua LindseyChicago native and Chicago Wolves’ defensemen Zach Miskovic propelled his team to victory against the Peoria Rivermen with a game-winning overtime goal  Oct. 17.This 3-0 start marks the first time since the 07’-08’ season that the Wolves have started off the season winning three games in a row.“I was excited,” Miskovic said. “Obviously it’s my home town and my parents and ...

Governments escalate cyber warfare capabilities

By Tyler Davis

September 9, 2012

Stuxnet, a malicious computer program now believed to be a collaboration between the U.S. and Israeli governments, accidentally leaked into systems outside its original target, an Iranian nuclear facility, in March 2010. Along with another malware program believed to be part of the same joint government operation, Stuxnet disabled approximately 1,000 Iranian nuclear centrifuges. An analysis released by the security firm Kaspersky La...

Caravan for Peace marches through Chicago

By Dannis Valera

September 9, 2012

The Caravan for Peace marched through Chicago’s Little Village earlier this week calling for changes in policy and strategy concerning the war on drugs.The caravan first started Aug. 11, after crossing the Otay Border into San Diego. In total, the caravan will travel through 26 cities and will eventually end up in Washington, D.C., Sept. 12.Mexican poet Javier Sicilia started the caravan because of the loss of his son, J...

Military women still fighting cultural barriers

By Gabrielle Rosas

February 20, 2012

Army Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester was sitting in the back of a military convoy in Iraq March 20, 2005, when insurgents ambushed the vehicle as it traveled into Baghdad. Hester and her comrades braved enemy fire to reach trenches along the road where they fought back with grenades. Hester killed three insurgents and saved “countless lives,” according to her award citation. For her bravery in combat, she received the Silver Star ...

Chicago does not deserve title of 6th most miserable city

By Editorial Board

February 13, 2012

Midwesterners often ask me why I decided to move from the paradise of sunny Southern California to Illinois’ frozen tundra. Why leave a state with virtually everything—beaches, mountains, deserts, good Mexican food—for Chicago, one of the coldest, most crime-ridden cities in America? To be frank, it’s an irritating question, and the less people bring it up to me, the better.But much to my chagrin, Forbes magazine rec...

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