Could this new bit of technology result in unprecedented victories in the battle against poverty?
Incredible new technology could have a huge impact on the world in the coming years. Scientists have found a way to use satellite technology to track down which areas in the world are suffering more than others from poverty, which could enable better targeting of limited resources in combating poverty worldwide.
The technology has tremendous potential, as scientists are able to pinpoint things like bad road conditions which is a better indicator of which areas are the most impoverished. It does this by using an algorithm to comb through the massive amount of satellite images that are readily available to anyone, but are too numerous for most people to glean this kind of information, according to a Stanford University statement.
This deep-learning algorithm allows computers to do the work that is impossible for humans. Such technology had been used to track crop conditions and deforestation, but this is the first time it has shown potential for combating poverty.
There are vast amounts of satellite images that are basically the same as data on our world, but we don’t have many ways to read pictures in an intelligent way, and that is what this algorithm has been created to accomplish. Scientists are hopeful that this could lead to a sea change in fighting poverty.
“There are few places in the world where we can tell the computer with certainty whether the people living there are rich or poor,” said study lead author Neal Jean, a doctoral student in computer science at Stanford’s School of Engineering. “This makes it hard to extract useful information from the huge amount of daytime satellite imagery that’s available.
“Without being told what to look for, our machine learning algorithm learned to pick out of the imagery many things that are easily recognizable to humans – things like roads, urban areas and farmland,” he added.