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AI and MR meet Snakes and Spiders

Imagine ambling into a small town, heading to the nearest public house to blow the froth off a few cold beers, and hearing your AI whisper “…”

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If there’s one thing you can say about Australia, it’s that they aren’t short of venomous snakes, poisonous spiders, and myriad other plants and animals that can give you a very “bad hair day” indeed. I mean to say, when even the cousin of what would be a mildly annoying adder in the rest of the world is known as the “common death adder” (Acanthophis antarcticus) Down Under, you know you’ve got problems. The late, great Terry Pratchett pretty much nailed things in his book, The Last Continent (the 22nd novel in the Discworld series). This tome parodies Australians and various aspects of Australian culture, such as Crocodile Dundee, the Max Max (no relation) and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert movies, the Australian beer XXXX, Vegemite, thongs, cork hats, the Peach Melba, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, the Henley-on-Todd Regatta, and the popular Australian songs Waltzing Matilda, Down Under, and The Man From Snowy River. And that’s only in Chapter 1, but we digress… My chum Jay Dowling just sent me an email saying, “So, in the middle of your screaming and running away, you have to pause to get a good picture of it.” Obviously, this isn’t something one expects to hear the first thing in the morning. I have to admit to having been a tad intrigued, so I clicked on the accompanying link, which took me to an interesting article: This Australian App Is Like ‘Shazam’ for Spiders and Snakes. In this context, of course, Shazam refers to the app that runs on your smartphone or tablet that can listen to a short sound sample and use it to identify music, movies, advertising, and television shows (none of this is intended to imply that the movie SHAZAM! was anything but brilliant). But, once again, we digress…
The future is the combination of AI and MR (Click image to see a larger version — Image source: pixabay.com)
The idea is that if you happen to find yourself wandering around Australia and you see something scary (excluding Australians themselves), you take a picture of it using this app. In turn, the app uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify the beasty of interest and say, “No worries, mate” or “Rack off” (i.e., “I suggest you depart from this place with all haste, mate”). I responded to Jay that, while this app will doubtless prove to be useful, I think it’s just another “first step.” It won’t be long before we are all strolling around sporting our MR+AI (mixed reality plus artificial intelligence) headsets, and this sort of capability will be a standard feature or an add-on app (see also What the FAQ are VR, MR, AR, DR, AV, and HR? and What the FAQ are AI, ANNs, ML, DL, and DNNs?). I can easily envisage returning from a walkabout in the Outback having had no company for yonks apart from my travelling didgeridoo (as we all know, it’s not the size of your didgeridoo, it’s what you do with it that counts). In my mind’s eye, I can see myself ambling into a small town and heading to the nearest public house to blow the froth off a few cold beers. I can also visualize hearing my AI whisper in my ear: “Be careful, mate — there’s an Australian bearded recluse (Reclusus beardus) lurking in the corner who appears poised to leap out and ask you to buy him a beer.” Think of the wealth of applications in the Google Play and Apple App stores. I’m sure similar app emporiums will evolve to service the needs of MR+AI users. How about you? What sort of applications would you like to see (no pun intended)?

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Aubrey Kagan

Since getting the creature in focus and at the right distance/angle may take some time, perhaps the AI could add a feature- identifying the creature by the digestive juices swirling around the phone.

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