Friday, February 23, 2018

How AI Takes a Swat at Mosquitoes and Malaria

When it comes to advancing science, Marianne Sinka has some skin in the game. Some itchy skin. The Oxford University entomologist has regularly sacrificed her flesh (and blood) as mosquito bait to further her research. Now she’s using AI to track the irksome insects and battle the deadly diseases they carry.

“Today, the best way to detect what species are in a place is to sit down, roll up your trousers, and see what mosquitoes bite you,” Sinka said. “There are obviously some issues with that.” Instead, Sinka and a group of other Oxford researchers are using cheap mobile phones and GPU-accelerated deep learning to detect mosquitoes. They also want to determine whether the bugs belong to a species that transmits malaria or other life-threatening illnesses.