Category Archive : Technology

Less Phone, More Human with Dan Schawbel

Chase Jarvis Photography Chase

Let’s face it, despite being more digitally connected than ever before, we’re more isolated and lonely. The cure for this loneliness epidemic? Human connection. That’s why I am excited to have entrepreneur, best-selling author, and researcher, Dan Schawbel on the show. Throughout his career, he’s interviewed over 2,000 people from celebrities to CEOs to politicians and even two astronauts on the future of learning and working. He’s synthesized these conversations into tactical insights on how to make technology work for us (not control us) and foster a more socially connected, productive, and fulfilled career and life. In this episode: There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Dan shares his personal stories of rejection and failure with persistence and stamina. The dark side of remote working. While we glorify the flexibility and comfort from working outside the office, it also can contribute to isolation. Dan shares some strategies to combat this. We spend 1/3 of our lives working. Yet, so little of that time spent collaborating, negotiating, and communicating is spent face to face. Dan reminds us that simply having an in-person conversation is more effective than sending 30-40 emails. Enjoy and subscribe to the podcast below if you dig.  Please give […]

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Google’s New AI Can Score Photos on Technical and Aesthetic Quality

PetaPixel Michael Zhang

Google has introduced a new AI system that’s trained to rate photos on whether or not they are good technically and attractive aesthetically. It’s called NIMA, or Neural Image Assessment

“Quantification of image quality and aesthetics has been a long-standing problem in image processing and computer vision,” the researchers write.

While AI has traditionally been able to assess technical details such as noise, blur, and compression artifacts, newer systems are now learning how to interpret aesthetic details — subjective characteristics associated with emotions and beauty.

AI systems that do focus on aesthetics generally only rate photos as “high” or “low” quality. Google’s new AI goes a step further by giving an aesthetic score on a scale of 1 to 10.

“Our proposed network can be used to not only score images reliably and with high correlation to human perception, but also it is useful for a variety of labor intensive and subjective tasks such as intelligent photo editing, optimizing visual quality for increased user engagement, or minimizing perceived visual errors in an imaging pipeline,” the Google researchers say.

After showing each photo in a set to 200 people for human scorings, the researchers trained NIMA and found that the AI’s scores closely matched human scores, even on new sets of photos.

Here are some example photos with their NIMA scores and human scores (in parentheses):

NIMA scores can be used to “auto-enhance” photos by making edits to them that help increase the score and avoiding edits that negatively affect the rating.

You can read more about the technical details of this research in the newly-published paper.

(via Google via The Verge)

Imatag Uses Invisible Watermarks to Protect Your Photos

PetaPixel Will Nicholls

Imatag is a new service that uses invisible watermarks to protect photographs from copyright infringement. With the development of AI technology that can easily remove physical watermarks, more covert solutions could be a solution for photographers looking to identify and prove ownership of copied images online.

Once protected, Imatag will also track your photos on the web. You can use the website to see where your photos are found online and take appropriate action.

The website has an online demo you can use to try out the technology. You can upload your own image, allowing you to check it out with a magnifying glass and compare the original with the modified version. As you can see from the comparison images below, the watermark is invisible.

You can then adjust the JPEG quality, size, and crop to see if Imatag can still identify your photo via its watermark.

Very small sections of the image will not necessarily be identified, but you can still find surprisingly small crops with the watermarking technology.

Sections of the same size, but in the darker background with little detail, were not identified.

At a first look, the technology seems impressive. Identifying an invisible watermark within such small and low-resolution images is clearly something that could make a real difference when battling copyright infringement. Infringers are often modifying and cropping photos, but this could be a weapon that is resistant to that.

You can register a free account with Imatag, which allows you to upload up to 1GB of photos. If you need more storage, premium accounts with 100GB of storage are available for €10 per month (~$12).

(via Imatag via DPReview)

UK Police Have a Porn-Spotting AI That Gets Confused by Desert Photos

PetaPixel Michael Zhang

UK police are turning to high-tech artificial intelligence to help wage war against the scourge of child pornography, but the system currently has a tricky problem: the AI has a hard time telling the difference between nudity and photos of deserts.

The Telegraph reports that the Metropolitan Police’s digital forensics department is deploying AI to scan child pornography suspects’ phones and computers so that human police officers are no longer subjected to the psychological trauma that comes with the task.

The department, which had to search through 53,000 devices just last year, hopes to have an AI system capable of doing the job within two or three years.

Although the system is quite good at spotting some subjects in photos — things like drugs, guns, and money — it has been failing at distinguishing between naked bodies and sand dunes.

“Sometimes it comes up with a desert and it thinks its an indecent image or pornography,” says Met digital forensics head Mark Stokes. “For some reason, lots of people have screen-savers of deserts and it picks it up thinking it is skin color.”

Image recognition AI technology has come a long way in recent years — Google has a photo captioning AI that can describe photos with 94% accuracy. But these AI systems have had notable blunders as well. Both Google and Flickr apologized in 2015 after their auto-tagging systems identified people with darker skin colors as apes.

(via Telegraph via Gizmodo)

Image credits: Desert photos by Uncoated Photos and TTS_Adliswil

How to Run Nik Collection Standalone Without Photoshop or Lightroom

PetaPixel Jayphen Simpson

DxO recently announced that it has acquired the Nik Collection suite of popular photo tools after Google abandoned development in May. The Collection is still available as a free download and can be run as standalone programs independent of Photoshop and Lightroom. Here’s how.

Because the old Nik Collection is no longer maintained, some users have voiced concern that the classic plugins will not work with future versions of Photoshop and Lightroom. By running the Nik Collection programs standalone, this is no longer a problem.

If you haven’t already, you can download the Nik Collection for free by entering your email address at DxO’s website. You will receive an email address confirmation, and then a link to download the Collection.

Optionally install as a plugin for Photoshop here

Run through the installation process as usual. When it asks you to add Nik Collection to host applications, you can either select them or ignore them — this trick will work either way.

Take note of the install location

Take note of the install location. On macOS this will default to /Applications/Nik Collection. On Windows, this should be \Program Files\Google\Nik Collection\

Now that the Collection is installed, navigate to the directory from before in your file browser. Here you’ll see a list of all of the programs included in the Collection. You can open them directly by double-clicking on them, but there will be no way to actually import images.

Executables on a Mac
Executables on Windows; Screenshot by Ed Knepley

To actually open an image with one of the programs, simply drag your image and drop it on the executable file. On macOS, the executable files are the ones in the directory you used as the install location (/Applications/Nik Collection). On Windows, look for the .exe inside the directory of the program you want to use (\Program Files\Google\Nik Collection\Color Efex Pro 4\Color Efex Pro 4.exe).

Note that you cannot process RAWs using these programs, so make sure you drag and drop a JPEG or TIFF file. Once opened, edit your file as usual but be warned that clicking save will overwrite the original file. You may want to create a duplicate file before editing with the Nik Collection.

If you are using a Mac, you can also open files with Nik Collection programs by right-clicking the image file and selecting Open With…. You’ll find the Nik Collection programs in the pop-up dialog. This also works in Apple’s Photos app if you right-click an image and select Edit In….

DxO has not announced whether or not they will keep the old versions of Nik Collection available for free once they announce their new version in the middle of 2018. Regardless, using this technique, you can continue to enjoy the classic plugins standalone without worrying about your Photoshop and Lightroom versions.

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