Saturday December 7, 2019

Video Shows People Casually Discussing Gene Editing

The National Academy of Sciences posted the video earlier this week

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This image made from the National Academy of Sciences website on Oct. 2, 2019, shows part of a video of people discussing gene editing and designer babies. VOA

A new video that shows people casually discussing gene editing and designer babies is making waves because of who posted it: the government-funded group leading efforts to set standards for the ethically dicey science.

The National Academy of Sciences posted the video earlier this week. It also sent a tweet that it removed after criticism arose. The tweet asked, “Do you dream of having a top student or star athlete?” And it said gene editing might eventually make this possible.

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A new video that shows people casually discussing gene editing and designer babies is making waves because of who posted it: the government-funded group leading efforts. Pixabay

Most scientists and the academy itself oppose altering the DNA of embryos to bestow such traits.

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Last year, a Chinese researcher’s claim to have edited the genes of twin girls was widely denounced and led to new calls for oversight. The academy has formed a scientific panel to consider that. (VOA)

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Researchers Develop System That Can Locate Shooters Using Smartphone Video

Specifically, the system looks at the time delay between the crack caused by a supersonic bullet's shock wave and the muzzle blast, which travels at the speed of sound

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By using Video from three or more smartphones, the direction from which the shots were fired -- and the shooter's location -- can be calculated based on the differences in how long it takes the muzzle blast to reach each camera. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a system that can accurately locate a shooter based on Video recordings from as few as three smartphones.

The system, called Video Event Reconstruction and Analysis (VERA), won’t necessarily replace the commercial microphone arrays for locating shooters that public safety officials already use, although it may be a useful supplement for public safety when commercial arrays aren’t available.

“One key motivation for assembling VERA was to create a tool that could be used by human rights workers and journalists who investigate war crimes, terrorist acts and human rights violations,” study researcher Alexander Hauptmann from Carnegie Mellon University in the US.

When demonstrated using three video recordings from the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead and hundreds wounded, the system correctly estimated the shooter’s actual location — the north wing of the Mandalay Bay hotel.

The estimate was based on three gunshots fired within the first minute of what would be a prolonged massacre.

VERA uses machine learning techniques to synchronise the video feeds and calculate the position of each camera based on what that camera is seeing.

“But it’s the audio from the video feeds that’s pivotal in localising the source of the gunshots,” Hauptmann said.

Specifically, the system looks at the time delay between the crack caused by a supersonic bullet’s shock wave and the muzzle blast, which travels at the speed of sound.

It also uses audio to identify the type of gun used, which determines bullet speed.

VERA can then calculate the shooter’s distance from the smartphone.

“When we began, we didn’t think you could detect the crack with a smartphone because it’s really short,” Hauptmann said.

“But it turns out today’s cell phone microphones are pretty good,” Hauptmann added.

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Researchers have developed a system that can accurately locate a shooter based on Video recordings from as few as three smartphones. Pixabay

By using video from three or more smartphones, the direction from which the shots were fired — and the shooter’s location — can be calculated based on the differences in how long it takes the muzzle blast to reach each camera.

VERA is not limited to detecting gunshots.

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“It is an event analysis system that can be used to locate a variety of other sounds relevant to human rights and war crimes investigations,” Hauptmann said.

The researchers presented VERA and released it as open-source code at the Association for Computing Machinery’s International Conference on Multimedia in Nice, France. (IANS)