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You Can Now Use AI to Read Ancient Texts and Win $1 Million

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AI Reads Ancient Texts

AI is reading ancient texts, opening up an inspirational new world of lost and hidden knowledge. There are volumes of unknown history, philosophy, science, and literature out there waiting for us to explore. But that can be nearly impossible to do when that knowledge is written on fragmented stone tablets or badly damaged scrolls and papyrus.

AI is taking this problem on and making amazing strides toward solving the issue, and there is currently a million-dollar cash prize for anyone who can decipher these ancient texts using AI.

How is AI Decoding Ancient Texts?

Three innovations have played a large role in how AI decodes ancient texts and unveils hidden information. They are multispectral imagery, virtual unwrapping, and an exciting new application that scientists have called the AI Historian.

  • Multispectral Imagery: This technique filters an image down to highlight only specific wavelengths. When a document, written on delicate animal skin was cleaned off and reused, one layer of text was often on a different wavelength than another. Multispectral imagery makes it possible to virtually remove a layer of text to read what was written underneath it.
  • Virtual Unwrapping: This approach involves taking CT scans of ancient texts. Multiple X-rays on all sides of an ancient scroll allow computer technology to create a digital 3D image of that scroll that can be recreated as a flat sheet, as it would appear when unrolled. This is especially critical for scrolls and other documents that can’t be opened without severe damage.
  • The AI Historian: One of the most exciting releases is the AI Historian known as Ithaca. This online application allows scientists to enter ancient text directly into a website for analysis. The algorithms will examine the text and offer suggestions for missing sections of text, probabilities for the accuracy of those suggestions, and even predictions as to where and when the ancient text may have been written.

In spite of all these fantastic revolutions, some ancient writings remain elusive. Among these texts are The En-Gedi Scroll and the Herculaneum Scrolls. These ancient scrolls in particular proved very challenging to decipher before the advent of AI.

What are the Herculaneum Scrolls?

The Herculaneum scrolls are texts that had been buried in Herculaneum, an ancient city in Rome. The same volcanic eruption that covered the famous Italian city of Pompeii in 79 AD also buried the ancient city of Herculaneum. The volcano that did this is still active today and is known as Mount Vesuvius

Picture of Naples, Italy and Mount Vesuvius
Naples, Italy- Mount Vesuvius

Where Were the Herculaneum Scrolls found?

The Herculaneum scrolls were found under the remains of a luxurious villa, thought to have been the home of Julius Cesar’s father-in-law.

The scrolls lay underneath nearly 20 feet of volcanic ash and hardened mud until the villa was accidentally discovered by a farmer digging a well in 1750 AD. It was the very best of ironies that this centuries-long encasement both destroyed the scrolls and saved them at the same time.

The heat of the volcanic ash and the pressure of burial left the scrolls charred, carbonized, and badly compressed. Early attempts to unroll and read them resulted in the destruction of the scrolls. But had they not been buried; they likely would have disintegrated a long time ago. Although the scrolls couldn’t be opened, the writing on them still exists inside, making AI deciphering methods extremely important.

The En-Gedi Scroll

Dr. Brent Seales, a computer scientist at the University of Kentucky, has spent many years using the virtual unwrapping method to try to retrieve information hidden inside carbonized scrolls. He and his team had significant success with a scroll found in the remnants of an ancient synagogue in En-Gedi, Israel.

Like the scrolls at Herculaneum, it was charred and compressed from years of burial and could not be unrolled without severe damage. Using Dr. Seale’s methods, his team was able to determine that the scroll was one of the oldest-known copies of the book of Leviticus from the Biblical Old Testament.

What is the Difference Between the Herculaneum Scrolls and the En-Gedi Scrolls?

The Herculaneum scrolls proved harder to decipher because the ink used to write the text was carbon-based and comprised of charcoal and water. This made it nearly impossible to read on a papyrus that, with age and damage, was now the same color as the ink.

On the other hand, the En-Gedi scroll was written with lead-based ink that had a high metal content. This composition made the letters shine brightly in the CT scan images.

Dr. Brent Seales and the team realized that even slight differences in texture could make it clear where the ink exists on the paper. They called this ‘crackle’.

Now, all they needed was to determine how to use these texture changes to read the words that were formed.

The Vesuvius Challenge: Win 1 Million Dollars!

Dr. Seales and his team realized they would have a better chance of recovering all that ancient knowledge faster if they brought other minds and ideas to the table. So, they developed the Vesuvius Challenge.

This was a worldwide contest open to anyone who wanted to take a shot at this difficult challenge. The contest is organized into phases in which cash prizes are to be awarded to successive accomplishments, including the first person to successfully identify ink and the first to identify letters. Then the team released their already existing scans and code to the contestants.

It wasn’t long before nearly 1,500 contestants in various places were hard at work on the problem. Soon, one of those contestants was reading the first word on one of the scrolls: purple.

The ‘Purple’ Breakthrough

Luke Farritor was the first to develop a ground-breaking machine-learning algorithm that could scan the scrolls and identify Greek letters. 

When the 21-year-old computer science student from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln ran his algorithm over a piece of scroll image with some very clear crackle, it took only an hour to successfully identify five Greek letters.

It was only a few days before refinements to his model allowed the word to be clearly identified as ‘purple’.

Now that Luke has taken the Vesuvius Challenge’s ‘first letter’ prize of $40,000 for reading ten characters, the race is almost won. The only prize left is the $700,000 grand prize, which will go to the first contestant to read four or more passages from a closed scroll. The deadline for that award is December 31, 2023.

Of course, the real prize will be the ability to read all those ancient texts. And there may be much more to come than we realize. The ancient city of Herculaneum is still being excavated and experts have predicted there could be thousands of scrolls still waiting to be discovered.

Dr. Seales says the mood of the team is “unbridled optimism”. It’s only a matter of time before they’re reading entire scrolls, and unlocking the long-hidden wisdom and knowledge of our ancestors.

Ancient City of Herculaneum
Ercolano, Italy- Ancient city of Herculaneum

IC Inspiration

AI and computer technology have been taking on everything from treating Alzheimer’s Disease and helping injured people walk again, to helping restore coral reefs. So, it’s only natural that it should be used in the unending quest to read ancient texts.

In ancient times, the material used for writing was often calf, lamb, or kid skin. This material was both expensive and scarce, so it was common practice to wash it off and use it again for new writings. These documents, called palimpsest, often hide the most amazing of secrets.

In 2012, Dr. Peter Williams of the University of Cambridge assigned his students to examine images of the Codex Climaci Rescriptus, a collection of parchments from an Egyptian monastery. While reviewing a scanned image of the codex, one student pointed out that Greek lettering was faintly visible beneath the Syriac text on top. 

The document was sent to the French National Centre for Scientific Research where multispectral imaging revealed what may well be the world’s oldest sky map.

Around 2,200 years ago, an astronomer named Hipparchus took on the monumental task of creating the earliest known star catalogue. This catalogue documented every object in the sky.

Unfortunately, most of his work, including the catalogue, has disappeared, leaving scholars to wonder whether the star catalogue had ever existed.

The multispectral scan of the codex revealed a poem Aratus, a contemporary of Hipparchus. The poem included some measurements directly from Hipparchus’ original star catalogue.

It’s the evidence the science community needed to be sure, once and for all, that Hipparchus did in fact do the amazing work he’s credited with, even if his efforts are lost forever.

On the other hand, the Vesuvius Challenge has given us hope that the star catalogue could still show up again, someday.

Maybe even in the depths of the incredible libraries of Herculaneum.

Joy L. Magnusson is an experienced freelance writer with a special passion for nature and the environment—topics she writes about widely in publications. Her work has been featured on Our Canada Magazine, Zooanthology, Written Tales Chapbook and more.

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Free AI Weapon Detection App Can Prevent School Shootings

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ai weapon detection system for schools

AI Weapon Detection

School shootings are sudden and horrific events. There have been 394 school shootings in North America since 1999. These events are marked by panic, chaos, confusion, and missing information. But now, AI weapon detection systems are being used to stop school shootings before they even happen. Some highly motivated companies are even offering these systems for free.

Iterate.ai Open Source Threat Detection

Iterate.ai is a tech company that is offering a free AI weapon detection system to help stop school shooters in their tracks. The AI has been trained to detect guns, knives, kevlar vests, and robbery masks.

Brian Sathianathan, Chief Technology Officer at Iterate.ai, says schools and universities need technology like this. Offering an open-source version of the system is the most effective way to get it into as many schools as possible.

Are you a Non-Profit That Could Use an AI Gun Weapon Detection System?

The GitHub code for the threat detection system is available on the iterate.ai website. This encourages software developers, UX designers, and AI engineers to make the app even better than it is. Iterate.ai wants to encourage non-profits like schools and religious institutions to use the system.

There is no single miracle answer to a complicated problem like school violence, but AI weapon detection systems could protect thousands of people.

How Does an AI Weapon Detection System Work?

The AI weapon detection system scans hundreds of items in a given space at a time. It then uses algorithms to instantly detect a gun or knife being carried into the area. When it catches something dangerous, it signals the authorities within seconds. It can even track the individual as they move throughout the building.

In past attacks, distressed survivors have provided police with contradicting and confused information. This can cost officers vital time in stopping the shooter. However, with AI weapon detection technology, police can enter into active situations with vital information already available to them. It is even possible for them to receive second-to-second updates about the suspect’s location and actions.

How Does AI Scan for Weapons?

Every AI gun detection system uses scanning software. By categorizing hundreds of items in a space, the AI weapon scanning software can zero in on threats. An AI is trained on data from videos and fictional scenarios that help it develop an understanding of what it’s looking for, and what a particularly dangerous situation looks like.

Iterate.ai weapon detection, for example, has been programmed to instantly recognize a variety of weapons. This includes handguns, semi-automatic weapons, bulletproof vests, and knives that are more than six inches long.

This particular AI was trained on 20,000 videos of robberies involving weapons over the last twenty years.

The Future of AI Weapon Detection Systems in School

There is no single miracle answer to a complicated problem like school shootings, but An AI gun detection system provides hope that many dangerous situations will be averted in the future. The future beyond 2024 looks bright, and now, it is more likely that we can send our children to school and see them return safely even if a bad situation does happen.

ai weapon detection systems

IC Inspiration

Arguably, one of the strongest voices in the endless struggle with school violence comes from a girl whose voice was silenced many years ago.

Rachel Joy Scott was the first person killed in the Columbine massacre. She was only 17 years old.

However, even amid such horror, something amazing arose.

There were things about Rachel that even her family didn’t know. She was a compassionate and generous person who had a dream to reach out to those who needed it the most.

In her diary, she wrote: “I want to reach out to those with special needs because they are often overlooked. I want to reach out to those who are new in school because they don’t have any friends yet. And I want to reach out to those who are picked on or put down by others.”

She didn’t just write these words, however. She lived them, too.

People began sharing wonderful stories about how she befriended those who were different. They told how she protected her classmates against bullies.

When she was thirteen, she traced her hands on the back of her dresser. On her picture, she wrote a message:

 “These are the hands of Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of people’s hearts.”

Her dream to reach out to the world could have ended that day in the schoolyard at Columbine High School. Her family decided to make sure that didn’t happen.

Instead, her memory and her legacy are being shared through the non-profit organization called “Rachel’s Challenge.” The organization works with students and teachers at all levels. Speakers go out to schools to talk to teachers and students about how to end bullying and school violence. They encourage students to take up Rachel’s challenge. She developed This concept in an inspirational essay she wrote shortly before she passed away.

“I have this theory, that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same”

Rachel Joy Scott

At each Rachel’s Challenge event, students and staff are encouraged to take up this challenge. They’re asked to put it into practice in their lives and their schools. Students are even encouraged to sign a pledge to give their school a fresh start. In some schools, clubs are founded based on the challenge. They’re called Friends of Rachel clubs.

People are not limited to in-person visits, however. The Rachel’s Challenge website encourages visitors to sign the pledge online.

Rachel’s challenge has seen great success. Thirty million students, educators, and parents have been reached. Through this challenging and important work, an average of 150 lives are saved every year. Rachel’s Challenge even reports at least eight school shootings have been averted.

Of all the recent innovations in Artificial Intelligence, perhaps the one thing that will finally make school shootings a thing of the past is just a little bit of simple compassion.

Rachel sure thought so.

“My codes may seem like a fantasy that can never be reached but test them for yourself, and see the kind of effect they have in the lives of people around you. You just may start a chain reaction.”

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The Doroni H1 Flying Car Creates a new Era of Transportation

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The Doroni H1 Flying Car

The Doroni H1

The Doroni H1 flying car is the next leap forward for personal aviation.

eVTOL, which stands for electric vertical take-off and landing, is the future of transportation. Much Like the Alef Model A, these vehicles lift off vertically from the ground and then take off.

Many eVTOL companies focus on making “air taxis” for infra-city use, but the H1 is designed for personal pilots. It is starting to look like everyone will be their own personal pilot in the future.

Who Should Have a Doroni H1?

This futuristic flying car looks like a giant drone or a creation from The Jetsons. The question is, who wouldn’t want to have one? Imagine bypassing traffic jams with ease as you lift off from your doorstep, and within minutes, you’re soaring above the cityscape.

According to Doroni’s CEO, Doron Merdinger, everyone should own a Doroni H1 eVTOL. All that is needed is a drivers license and a 20-hour flight training course provided by the company.

The flying car will be used by Doroni customers and maybe even first responders who need to deliver their crucial service on time. It’s also great for a tourist who wants to get a bird’s eye view of a landscape or a farmer who wants to explore their farm. The useful possibilities of the H1 are endless. And since the price competes with cars, it is likely that many people will be flying them in the future.

Doroni H1 Price

The Doroni H1 is priced at around $150,000. Doroni Aerospace, the company that makes the eVTOL, wants personal aviation to be a big part of the future. This price aims to reflect that.

The Doroni H1 is less expensive than the Alef Model A; however, the two eVTOLs are different. The Alef Model A looks more like a car, whereas the Doroni H1 looks more like an aircraft.

Doroni H1 Release Date

Doroni Aerospace plans to release the Doroni H1 in the fourth quarter of 2024. The company has received wide interest in the flying car; However, only 36 preorders have been reserved. Out of this 36, 15 have been claimed so far.

Doroni plans to build more in the future.

Doroni H1 Specs

Doroni Aerospace hopes to achieve two things with Doroni h1 eVTOL: personal safety and durability. The flying car boasts state-of-the-art self-stabilizing technology and easy maneuverability. It is designed to fit in a personal garage like a car does.

  • 23 ft Length, 15 ft Width, 5.5 ft.
  • 2-seater.
  • 10 propellers.
  • Top Speed of 140 mph (225 km/h).
  • Flying Range of 60 miles (100 km).
  • Semi-autonomous.
  • Charge time of 15-20 minutes.
  • Carrying load of 500 lb (227 kg).
  • Controlled with a joystick.
Doroni H1 specs
Doroni h1 Interior: Photo Courtesy of Doroni Aerospace

The Doroni eVTOL Has Been Tried and True

In 2023, Doroni Aerospace became the first eVTOL company to complete manned flights. The company has had over 70 successful test flights so far and has received FAA’s Airworthiness Certification.

How Will You Fly the Doroni H1?

The Doroni H1 will require a standard driver’s license as well as a 20-hour flight course provided by Doroni Aerospace.

The eVTOL is semi-autonomous, meaning that users can fly it either remotely or manually. When flown manually, users move forward, backward, or side to side using a joystick.

How will you fly the Doroni H1?
Doroni h1 Interior: Photo Courtesy of Doroni Aerospace

Are Flying Cars the Future?

The flying car market is estimated to reach a value of $1.5 trillion by 2040. That is about as much as the car market is worth today, and this is with good reason.

Doroni Aerospace currently offers investment opportunities starting from $10,000 and has raised over $5 million so far. Another flying car company, Alef Aeronautics, plans to make a flying car called the Alef Model Z that is only $30,000 by 2030. Preorders for all types of personal flying cars are seeing a surge.

All signs point towards flying cars being a big part of the future.

IC INSPIRATION

Even before the Wright Brothers invented airplanes, people had a desire to fly. Leonardo da Vinci had a fascinating invention known as the ornithopter.

Fast forward to 1946, Robert Fulton created the first “flying car” called the Airphibian. It wasn’t a flying car per se but a small aircraft whose wings and tail section could be detached, allowing the pilot to travel on the road. The Airphibian inspired Moulton Taylor to build his flying car version called the Aerocar, which became the last roadable aircraft to receive approval from the FAA — until the Alef Model A.

In 2018, engineer and technological futurist, J. Storr Halls published a book with the title, “Where’s My Flying Car?” A good question. It’s 2024, and now we do have flying cars. What took so long?

First, vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (eVTOLs) need tremendous energy to lift off. They have to produce enough downward thrust to counteract their weight and lift off the ground.

Then there’s the issue of infrastructure. Most eVTOLs will need launching pads, runways, or even specified airways. I mean, it would be wild if anyone could fly anywhere — it’s intense enough on some highways.

With infrastructure comes the regulations. You probably don’t want someone hovering outside your window, bursting your eardrums, or invading your privacy.

That said, these challenges can be overcome. The Doroni H1 is a true testament that the road to the future is not limited to the ground. 

Besides fulfilling our dreams of flying cars, flying cars may also usher in a new era of sustainability.

Doroni h1 eVTOL

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The Humane AI Pin is Here! So is Everything You Need to Know

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What is the Humane AI Pin?

Inspirational startup Humane and Multinational tech innovator Qualcomm Technologies have marked the future of AI for humanity by creating the Humane AI Pin, a standalone wearable device that uses sensors to contextualize the way you interact with the world, turning complex queries into personalized output that can do things like:

  • Translate what you say into any other language using your very voice.
  • Tell you whether what you are about to eat is safe given your diet preferences or health conditions.
  • Allows you to answer calls that you receive from the palm of your hand without using a cell phone.

We are excited to reveal our first device will be called the Humane Ai Pin”, say co-founders of Humane, Imran Chaudhri, and Bethany Bongiorno. “Our Ai Pin presents an opportunity for people to take AI with them everywhere and to unlock a new era of personal mobile computing which is seamless, screenless, and sensing.”

The Device is Standalone and Has a “Trust Light”

The device is standalone, meaning there is no need to pair it with any other devices. It uses sensors that enable it to pick up on everything you see and hear so that when you ask it something, it fully understands the context of your question.

It also uses a built-in depth sensor to project itself into any given surface, like the palm of a hand.

To ebb privacy concerns, when the AI Pin’s camera, microphone, or sensors are recording data, a light on the device known as the “Trust Light” shines yellow. This shows that the device is active in collecting input and data around it.

The device will run on a mix of custom software and ChatGPT-4.

Humane AI Pin Price

The Humane AI Pin will cost $699 USD. The device is meant to integrate data, storage, and AI models into a device that—if lives up to its intent—replaces mobile phones. For this reason, the Humane AI Pin will also require a subscription fee of $24 per month that consists of cellular data and a mobile number.

In September 2023, the Humane AI Pin was showcased at the Paris Fashion Week, presenting the device in both white and black colours.

Humane AI Pin Release Date and Shipping

Humane wanted the release of the pin to be on the same date as the solar eclipse on October 14. However, the release date was moved to November 16, 2023.

Preorders for the AI pin will begin shipping out in March 2024 on a first come first serve basis. Those who purchased priority access orders will recieve their pins first.

Humane AI Pin TED Talk

In the Humane AI Pin TED talk, Imran Chaudhri can be seen answering a call from his wife by intending to do so. His “hello” starts the conversation, and his “bye” ends it.

The Humane AI Pin was also shown to recognize objects around it and even pick up on the nutritional profile of food packaging. In the TED talk showcasing the Humane AI Pin, Imran Chaudhri can also be seen asking the AI whether he can eat a chocolate bar that he pulled out of his pocket.

“A milky bar contains cocoa butter”, replied the AI. “Given your intolerance, you may want to avoid it.”

“Why fumble for your phone, when you can just hold an object, and ask questions about it?” Further states Imran Chaudhri, co-founder of Humane and inventor of Apple iPhone’s user interface. “The result almost feels like the whole world is your operating system.”

What Does the Humane AI Pin Do?

An incredible thing about this device is that when the AI Pin is asked something, the manner in which you ask it does not need to be specific, yet the response you get is specific to what is happening in your life.

In the Humane AI Pin TED talk, Imran asked his AI Pin to update him on what he had missed, and every piece of data that the AI Pin gathered, from texts to emails, allowed the pin to generate the sort of response that a human would give if it were your personal assistance.

AI can sift through massive amounts of data very quickly, and this ability is now being used to restore coral reefs and remove pesticides from food, and now with the Human AI Pin, artificial intelligence seems to create a form of personalized assistant for people.

It doesn’t just tell you your emails; it contextualizes them.

How is This Device So Different from Other Technology?

A machine would read your emails the way they are written; a true AI is quite different. Instead of reading your emails out loud, it tells you exactly what your emails are saying in the own words of the AI—words that might be hard to predict.

Sound familiar?

It should, because human intelligence is like this too, and like AI, that intelligence is only limited to what humans can learn; the difference, however, is that an AI can learn much quicker.

If you ask Humane, the future of AI means the disappearance of the computer screen. While looking at the history of technology, devices get smaller as tech becomes more refined, and the smaller devices get, the more personalized they become.

Our brains are the most personal things each of us has, yet we can’t see them by ourselves; in fact, we don’t physically see our thoughts, but we can reveal them in ways that are physical.

Think of this: Imran Chaudhri’s thoughts were to have the technology that is behind the screen reveal information without you physically being able to see the screen itself, much like our brains.

Is the Humane AI Pin the Future of Technology?

If the smallest thing that can possibly answer a phone call is currently a watch, and technology is continually advancing, then the next steps are an ambient technology—like the Humane AI Pin— and eventually an integrated one—like Elon Musk’s Neuralink.

But while the prospect of having a chip implanted in the brain is an uneasy one for many to swallow, the Human AI Pin may be something that even skeptics are able to get behind.

CEO of OpenAI Sam Altman says that AI is underestimated, and in the Ted Talk, Imran Chaudhri adds, “so long as we get it right.”

If Humane does indeed get this right, it would be yet another story of human endeavour that goes on to show that a revealed thought, no matter how far-off it may sound at first, can become a reality.

So, if you are ever feeling like you can’t achieve something incredible in your life, then that is indeed a motivational thought.

And if the questions that we ask set us on the path of the answers we seek, then we can’t wait to see the kinds of solutions that the Humane AI Pin can offer after it is asked questions.

The letters "AI" projected in the sky of a futuristic city

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