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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Research"

With $1 Billion From Microsoft, an A.I. Lab Wants to Mimic the Brain

SAN FRANCISCO — As the waitress approached the table, Sam Altman held up his phone. That made it easier to see the dollar amount typed into an investment contract he had spent the last 30 days negotiating with Microsoft.

“$1,000,000,000,” it read.

The investment from Microsoft, signed early this month and announced on Monday, signals a new direction for Mr. Altman’s research lab.

In March, Mr. Altman stepped down from his daily duties as the head of Y Combinator, the start-up “accelerator” that catapulted him into the Silicon Valley elite. Now, at 34, he is the chief executive of OpenAI, the artificial intelligence lab he helped create in 2015 with Elon Musk, the billionaire chief executive of the electric carmaker Tesla.

Mr. Musk left the lab last year to concentrate on his own A.I. ambitions at Tesla. Since then, Mr. Altman has remade OpenAI, founded as a nonprofit, into a for-profit company so it could more aggressively pursue financing. Now he has landed a marquee investor to help it chase an outrageously lofty goal.

He and his team of researchers hope to build artificial general intelligence, or A.G.I., a machine that can do anything the human brain can do.

A.G.I. still has a whiff of science fiction. But in their agreement, Microsoft and OpenAI discuss the possibility with the same matter-of-fact language they might apply to any other technology they hope to build, whether it’s a cloud-computing service or a new kind of robotic arm.

“My goal in running OpenAI is to successfully create broadly beneficial A.G.I.,” Mr. Altman said in a recent interview. “And this partnership is the most important milestone so far on that path.”

In recent years, a small but fervent community of artificial intelligence researchers have set their sights on A.G.I., and they are backed by some of the wealthiest companies in the world. DeepMind, a top lab owned by Google’s parent company, says it is chasing the same goal.

Westlake Legal Group ai-text-disinformation-1559924675109-thumbLarge With $1 Billion From Microsoft, an A.I. Lab Wants to Mimic the Brain Y Combinator Research OpenAI Labs Nadella, Satya Musk, Elon Microsoft Corp Artificial Intelligence Altman, Samuel H

How A.I. Could Be Weaponized to Spread Disinformation

The world’s top artificial intelligence labs are honing technology that can mimic how humans write, which could one day help disinformation campaigns go undetected by generating huge amounts of subtly different messages.

In a joint phone interview with Mr. Altman, Microsoft’s chief executive, Satya Nadella, later compared A.G.I. to his company’s efforts to build a quantum computer, a machine that would be exponentially faster than today’s machines. “Whether it’s our pursuit of quantum computing or it’s a pursuit of A.G.I., I think you need these high-ambition North Stars,” he said.

Mr. Altman’s 100-employee company recently built a system that could beat the world’s best players at a video game called Dota 2. Just a few years ago, this kind of thing did not seem possible.

Dota 2 is a game in which each player must navigate a complex, three-dimensional environment along with several other players, coordinating a careful balance between attack and defense. In other words, it requires old-fashioned teamwork, and that is a difficult skill for machines to master.

OpenAI mastered Dota 2 thanks to a mathematical technique called reinforcement learning, which allows machines to learn tasks by extreme trial and error. By playing the game over and over again, automated pieces of software, called agents, learned which strategies are successful.

The agents learned those skills over the course of several months, racking up more than 45,000 years of game play. That required enormous amounts of raw computing power. OpenAI spent millions of dollars renting access to tens of thousands of computer chips inside cloud computing services run by companies like Google and Amazon.

Eventually, Mr. Altman and his colleagues believe, they can build A.G.I. in a similar way. If they can gather enough data to describe everything humans deal with on a daily basis — and if they have enough computing power to analyze all that data — they believe they can rebuild human intelligence.

Mr. Altman painted the deal with Microsoft as a step in this direction. As Microsoft invests in OpenAI, the tech giant will also work on building new kinds of computing systems that can help the lab analyze increasingly large amounts of information.

“This is about really having that tight feedback cycle between a high-ambition pursuit of A.G.I. and what is our core business, which is building the world’s computer,” Mr. Nadella said.

That work will likely include computer chips designed specifically for training artificial intelligence systems. Like Google, Amazon and dozens of start-ups across the globe, Microsoft is already exploring this new kind of chip.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 22openai2-articleLarge With $1 Billion From Microsoft, an A.I. Lab Wants to Mimic the Brain Y Combinator Research OpenAI Labs Nadella, Satya Musk, Elon Microsoft Corp Artificial Intelligence Altman, Samuel H

Mr. Altman and Satya Nadella, the chief executive of Microsoft, which is investing $1 billion in OpenAI.CreditIan C. Bates for The New York Times

Most of that $1 billion, Mr. Altman said, will be spent on the computing power OpenAI needs to achieve its ambitions. And under the terms of the new contract, Microsoft will eventually become the lab’s sole source of computing power.

Mr. Nadella said Microsoft would not necessarily invest that billion dollars all at once. It could be doled out over the course of a decade or more. Microsoft is investing dollars that will be fed back into its own business, as OpenAI purchases computing power from the software giant, and the collaboration between the two companies could yield a wide array of technologies.

Because A.G.I. is not yet possible, OpenAI is starting with narrower projects. It built a system recently that tries to understand natural language. The technology could feed everything from digital assistants like Alexa and Google Home to software that automatically analyzes documents inside law firms, hospitals and other businesses.

The deal is also a way for these two companies to promote themselves. OpenAI needs computing power to fulfill its ambitions, but it must also attract the world’s leading researchers, which is hard to do in today’s market for talent. Microsoft is competing with Google and Amazon in cloud computing, where A.I. capabilities are increasingly important.

The question is how seriously we should take the idea of artificial general intelligence. Like others in the tech industry, Mr. Altman often talks as if its future is inevitable.

“I think that A.G.I. will be the most important technological development in human history,” he said during the interview with Mr. Nadella. Mr. Altman alluded to concerns from people like Mr. Musk that A.G.I. could spin outside our control. “Figuring out a way to do that is going to be one of the most important societal challenges we face.”

But a game like Dota 2 is a far cry from the complexities of the real world.

Artificial intelligence has improved in significant ways in recent years, thanks to many of the technologies cultivated at places like DeepMind and OpenAI. There are systems that can recognize images, identify spoken words, and translate between languages with an accuracy that was not possible just a few years ago. But this does not mean that A.G.I. is near or even that it is possible.

“We are no closer to A.G.I. than we have ever been,” said Oren Etzioni, the chief executive of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, an influential research lab in Seattle.

Geoffrey Hinton, the Google researcher who recently won the Turing Award — often called the Nobel Prize of computing — for his contributions to artificial intelligence over the past several years, was recently asked about the race to A.G.I.

“It’s too big a problem,” he said. “I’d much rather focus on something where you can figure out how you might solve it.” The other question with A.G.I., he added, is: Why do we need it?

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Google Glass Has an Afterlife as a Device to Teach Autistic Children

SAN FRANCISCO — When Esaïe Prickett sat down in the living room with his mother, father and four older brothers, he was the only one wearing Google Glass.

As Esaïe, who was 10 at the time and is 12 now, gazed through the computerized glasses, his family made faces — happy, sad, surprised, angry, bored — and he tried to identify each emotion. In an instant, the glasses told him whether he was right or wrong, flashing tiny digital icons that only he could see.

Esaïe was 6 when he and his family learned he had autism. The technology he was using while sitting in the living room was meant to help him learn how to recognize emotions and make eye contact with those around him. The glasses would verify his choices only if he looked directly at a face.

He and his family tested the technology for several weeks as part of a clinical trial run by researchers at Stanford University in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. Recently detailed in The Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics, the trial fits into a growing effort to build new technologies for children on the autism spectrum, including interactive robots and computerized eyewear.

The Stanford study’s results show that the methods have promise and indicate that they could help children like Esaïe understand emotions and engage in more direct ways with those around them. They could also measure changes in behavior, something that has historically been difficult to do.

Experts believe that other new technologies may help in similar ways. Talking digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, for example, could help children who misuse their pronouns. But even as these ideas spread, researchers warn that they will require rigorous testing before their effects are completely understood.

Catalin Voss started building software for Google Glass in 2013, not long after Google unveiled the computerized eyewear amid much hullabaloo from the national media. An 18-year-old Stanford freshman at the time, Mr. Voss began building an application that could automatically recognize images. Then he thought of his cousin, who had autism.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157780347_20215954-a643-4ad4-9163-6224d3b296e6-articleLarge Google Glass Has an Afterlife as a Device to Teach Autistic Children Wearable Computing Stanford University Research Innovation Google Inc Google Glass Computers and the Internet autism

Esaïe practicing facial expressions with his brother Morgan while wearing Google Glass.CreditCayce Clifford for The New York Times

Growing up, Mr. Voss’s cousin practiced recognizing facial expressions while looking into a bathroom mirror. Google Glass, Mr. Voss thought, might improve on this common exercise. Drawing on the latest advances in computer vision, his software could automatically read facial expressions and keep close track of when someone recognized an emotion and when they did not.

“I was trying to build software that could recognize faces,” Mr. Voss said. “And I knew that there were people who struggled with that.”

At the time, the brief moment Google Glass spent in the national spotlight was already coming to an end. Google stopped selling the device to consumers amid concerns that its built-in camera would compromise personal privacy.

But Google Glass lived on as something to be used by researchers and businesses, and Mr. Voss, now a Ph.D. student, spent the next several years developing his application with Dennis Wall, a Stanford professor who specializes in autism research, and others at the university.

Their clinical trial, conducted over two years with 71 children, is one of the first of its kind. It spanned everything from severe forms of autism, including children with speech impairments and tactile sensitivities, to much milder forms. Children who used the software in their homes showed a significant gain on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, a standard tool for tracking the behavior of those on the autism spectrum, Mr. Voss said.

The gain was in line with improvements by children who received therapy in dedicated clinics through more traditional methods. The hope is that Mr. Voss’s application and similar methods can help more children in more places, without regular visits to clinics.

“It is a way for families to, on some level, provide their own therapy,” Mr. Voss said.

Jeffrey Prickett, Esaïe’s father, said he had been drawn to the study because he had known it would appeal to his son, who enjoys using iPad apps and watching DVD movies.

Catalin Voss was a Stanford freshman when he started to build an application for Google Glass that could automatically recognize images.CreditJessica Chou for The New York Times

“He does fine interacting with people,” Mr. Prickett said. “But he does better interacting with technology.”

Mr. Prickett found it hard to judge whether the Google device helped his son recognize emotions, but he saw a marked improvement in Esaïe’s ability to make eye contact.

Heather Crowhurst, who lives near Sacramento, said she had experienced something similar with her 8-year-old son, Thomas, who also participated in the trial. But Thomas was not entirely captivated with the digital therapy. “It was kind of boring,” he said.

The concern with such studies is that they rely on the observations of parents who are helping their children use the technology, said Catherine Lord, a clinical psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of autism. The parents are aware of the technological intervention, so their observations may not be reliable.

Still, the Stanford team considers its study a first step toward wider use of this and other technologies in autism. It has licensed the technology to Cognoa, a Silicon Valley start-up founded by Dr. Wall. The company hopes to commercialize the method once it receives approval from the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the use of medical devices in the United States. That may still be years away.

Other companies are taking a different approach. Brain Power, a start-up in Massachusetts that has built similar software for Google Glass, is selling its technology to local schools. The company considers it a teaching tool, not a medical device.

Patrick Daly, the assistant superintendent of the school district in North Reading, Mass., is testing Brain Power’s technology after watching its effect on his 9-year-old son, who is on the spectrum. The district intends to test the technology over the next few years.

Dennis Wall, left, a Stanford professor who specializes in autism research, and Mr. Voss.CreditJessica Chou for The New York Times

Previously, the district tried to teach similar skills through iPad computer tablets. Mr. Daly sees Google Glass as a big improvement.

“It can actually maintain eye contact,” he said. “They are not looking down while they try to learn an emotion.”

Robokind, a start-up in Dallas, applies the same philosophy to different hardware. The company spent the past several years designing a robot that attempts to teach many of the same skills as technologies built for digital eyewear. Called Milo, the doll-like, two-foot-tall robot mimics basic emotions and tries to make eye contact with students. It also asks questions and tries to engage students in simple conversations.

Robokind has sold hundreds of the robots to schools for testing. Each one costs $12,000, plus more than $3,500 for additional software.

In some ways, such a device is a poor substitute for real human interaction. But the strength of this and other technologies is that they can repeat tasks time and again, without getting tired or bored or angry. They can also measure behavior in precise ways, said Pam Feliciano, the scientific director of the nonprofit Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research.

For these reasons, Ms. Feliciano also sees promise in Amazon’s Alexa. Her 14-year-old son is on the spectrum and struggles with his pronouns. He sometimes calls himself “you,” not “I.”

Her task is to correct him each time he makes a mistake. But she’s human and gets tired. She does not always remember. A device like Alexa could help, she said, provided that researchers can show it is reliable and effective.

“The technologies are there,” she said. “It is just a matter of the right technologists working with the right clinicians.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Google Glass May Have an Afterlife as a Device to Teach Autistic Children

SAN FRANCISCO — When Esaïe Prickett sat down in the living room with his mother, father and four older brothers, he was the only one wearing Google Glass.

As Esaïe, who was 10 at the time and is 12 now, gazed through the computerized glasses, his family made faces — happy, sad, surprised, angry, bored — and he tried to identify each emotion. In an instant, the glasses told him whether he was right or wrong, flashing tiny digital icons that only he could see.

Esaïe was 6 when he and his family learned he had autism. The technology he was using while sitting in the living room was meant to help him learn how to recognize emotions and make eye contact with those around him. The glasses would verify his choices only if he looked directly at a face.

He and his family tested the technology for several weeks as part of a clinical trial run by researchers at Stanford University in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. Recently detailed in The Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics, the trial fits into a growing effort to build new technologies for children on the autism spectrum, including interactive robots and computerized eyewear.

The Stanford study’s results show that the methods have promise and indicate that they could help children like Esaïe understand emotions and engage in more direct ways with those around them. They could also measure changes in behavior, something that has historically been difficult to do.

Experts believe that other new technologies may help in similar ways. Talking digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, for example, could help children who misuse their pronouns. But even as these ideas spread, researchers warn that they will require rigorous testing before their effects are completely understood.

Catalin Voss started building software for Google Glass in 2013, not long after Google unveiled the computerized eyewear amid much hullabaloo from the national media. An 18-year-old Stanford freshman at the time, Mr. Voss began building an application that could automatically recognize images. Then he thought of his cousin, who had autism.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157780347_20215954-a643-4ad4-9163-6224d3b296e6-articleLarge Google Glass May Have an Afterlife as a Device to Teach Autistic Children Wearable Computing Stanford University Research Innovation Google Inc Google Glass Computers and the Internet autism

Esaïe practicing facial expressions with his brother Morgan while wearing Google Glass.CreditCayce Clifford for The New York Times

Growing up, Mr. Voss’s cousin practiced recognizing facial expressions while looking into a bathroom mirror. Google Glass, Mr. Voss thought, might improve on this common exercise. Drawing on the latest advances in computer vision, his software could automatically read facial expressions and keep close track of when someone recognized an emotion and when they did not.

“I was trying to build software that could recognize faces,” Mr. Voss said. “And I knew that there were people who struggled with that.”

At the time, the brief moment Google Glass spent in the national spotlight was already coming to an end. Google stopped selling the device to consumers amid concerns that its built-in camera would compromise personal privacy.

But Google Glass lived on as something to be used by researchers and businesses, and Mr. Voss, now a Ph.D. student, spent the next several years developing his application with Dennis Wall, a Stanford professor who specializes in autism research, and others at the university.

Their clinical trial, conducted over two years with 71 children, is one of the first of its kind. It spanned everything from severe forms of autism, including children with speech impairments and tactile sensitivities, to much milder forms. Children who used the software in their homes showed a significant gain on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, a standard tool for tracking the behavior of those on the autism spectrum, Mr. Voss said.

The gain was in line with improvements by children who received therapy in dedicated clinics through more traditional methods. The hope is that Mr. Voss’s application and similar methods can help more children in more places, without regular visits to clinics.

“It is a way for families to, on some level, provide their own therapy,” Mr. Voss said.

Jeffrey Prickett, Esaïe’s father, said he had been drawn to the study because he had known it would appeal to his son, who enjoys using iPad apps and watching DVD movies.

Catalin Voss was a Stanford freshman when he started to build an application for Google Glass that could automatically recognize images.CreditJessica Chou for The New York Times

“He does fine interacting with people,” Mr. Prickett said. “But he does better interacting with technology.”

Mr. Prickett found it hard to judge whether the Google device helped his son recognize emotions, but he saw a marked improvement in Esaïe’s ability to make eye contact.

Heather Crowhurst, who lives near Sacramento, said she had experienced something similar with her 8-year-old son, Thomas, who also participated in the trial. But Thomas was not entirely captivated with the digital therapy. “It was kind of boring,” he said.

The concern with such studies is that they rely on the observations of parents who are helping their children use the technology, said Catherine Lord, a clinical psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of autism. The parents are aware of the technological intervention, so their observations may not be reliable.

Still, the Stanford team considers its study a first step toward wider use of this and other technologies in autism. It has licensed the technology to Cognoa, a Silicon Valley start-up founded by Dr. Wall. The company hopes to commercialize the method once it receives approval from the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the use of medical devices in the United States. That may still be years away.

Other companies are taking a different approach. Brain Power, a start-up in Massachusetts that has built similar software for Google Glass, is selling its technology to local schools. The company considers it a teaching tool, not a medical device.

Patrick Daly, the assistant superintendent of the school district in North Reading, Mass., is testing Brain Power’s technology after watching its effect on his 9-year-old son, who is on the spectrum. The district intends to test the technology over the next few years.

Dennis Wall, left, a Stanford professor who specializes in autism research, and Mr. Voss.CreditJessica Chou for The New York Times

Previously, the district tried to teach similar skills through iPad computer tablets. Mr. Daly sees Google Glass as a big improvement.

“It can actually maintain eye contact,” he said. “They are not looking down while they try to learn an emotion.”

Robokind, a start-up in Dallas, applies the same philosophy to different hardware. The company spent the past several years designing a robot that attempts to teach many of the same skills as technologies built for digital eyewear. Called Milo, the doll-like, two-foot-tall robot mimics basic emotions and tries to make eye contact with students. It also asks questions and tries to engage students in simple conversations.

Robokind has sold hundreds of the robots to schools for testing. Each one costs $12,000, plus more than $3,500 for additional software.

In some ways, such a device is a poor substitute for real human interaction. But the strength of this and other technologies is that they can repeat tasks time and again, without getting tired or bored or angry. They can also measure behavior in precise ways, said Pam Feliciano, the scientific director of the nonprofit Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research.

For these reasons, Ms. Feliciano also sees promise in Amazon’s Alexa. Her 14-year-old son is on the spectrum and struggles with his pronouns. He sometimes calls himself “you,” not “I.”

Her task is to correct him each time he makes a mistake. But she’s human and gets tired. She does not always remember. A device like Alexa could help, she said, provided that researchers can show it is reliable and effective.

“The technologies are there,” she said. “It is just a matter of the right technologists working with the right clinicians.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Facial Recognition Tech Is Growing Stronger, Thanks to Your Face

SAN FRANCISCO — Dozens of databases of people’s faces are being compiled without their knowledge by companies and researchers, with many of the images then being shared around the world, in what has become a sprawling ecosystem fueling the spread of facial recognition technology.

The databases are pulled together with images from social networks, photo websites, dating services like OkCupid and cameras placed in restaurants and on college quads. While there is no precise count of the data sets, privacy activists have pinpointed repositories that were built by Microsoft, Stanford University and others, with one holding more than 10 million images while another had more than two million.

The face compilations are being driven by the race to create leading-edge facial recognition systems. This technology learns how to identify people by analyzing as many digital pictures as possible using “neural networks,” which are complex mathematical systems that require vast amounts of data to build pattern recognition.

Tech giants like Facebook and Google have most likely amassed the largest face data sets, which they do not distribute, according to research papers. But other companies and universities have widely shared their image troves with researchers, governments and private enterprises in Switzerland, India, China, Australia and Singapore for training artificial intelligence, according to academics, activists and public papers.

Companies and labs have gathered facial images for more than a decade, and the databases are merely one layer to building facial recognition technology. But people often have no idea that their faces ended up in them. And while names are typically not attached to the photos, individuals can be recognized because each face is unique to a person.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157756593_03c2fff0-6c72-469f-b32c-cd683893caf1-articleLarge Facial Recognition Tech Is Growing Stronger, Thanks to Your Face Start-ups Stanford University Social Media Research Privacy Microsoft Corp facial recognition software Face duke university Data-Mining and Database Marketing Computers and the Internet Computer Vision Clarifai Inc Artificial Intelligence

A visualization of 2,000 of the identities included in the MS Celeb database from Microsoft.CreditOpen Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and License, via Megapixels

Questions about the data sets are rising because the technologies that they have enabled are now being used in potentially invasive ways. Documents released last Sunday revealed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials employed facial recognition technology to scan motorists’ photos to identify undocumented immigrants. The F.B.I. also spent more than a decade using such systems to compare driver’s license and visa photos against the faces of suspected criminals, according to a Government Accountability Office report last month. On Wednesday, a congressional hearing tackled the government’s use of the technology.

There is no oversight of the data sets. Activists and others said they were angered by the possibility that people’s likenesses had been used to build ethically questionable technology and that the images could be misused. At least one face database created in the United States was shared with a company in China that has been linked to ethnic profiling of the country’s minority Uighur Muslims.

Over the past several weeks, some companies and universities, including Microsoft and Stanford, removed their face data sets from the internet because of privacy concerns. But given that the images were already so well distributed, they are most likely still being used in the United States and elsewhere, researchers and activists said.

“You come to see that these practices are intrusive, and you realize that these companies are not respectful of privacy,” said Liz O’Sullivan, who oversaw one of these databases at the artificial intelligence start-up Clarifai. She said she left the New York-based company in January to protest such practices.

“The more ubiquitous facial recognition becomes, the more exposed we all are to being part of the process,” said Liz O’Sullivan, a technologist who worked at the artificial intelligence start-up Clarifai.CreditNathan Bajar for The New York Times

“The more ubiquitous facial recognition becomes, the more exposed we all are to being part of the process,” she said.

Google, Facebook and Microsoft declined to comment.

[If you’re online — and, well, you are — chances are someone is using your information. We’ll tell you what you can do about it. Sign up for our limited-run newsletter.]

One database, which dates to 2014, was put together by researchers at Stanford. It was called Brainwash, after a San Francisco cafe of the same name, where the researchers tapped into a camera. Over three days, the camera took more than 10,000 images, which went into the database, the researchers wrote in a 2015 paper. The paper did not address whether cafe patrons knew their images were being taken and used for research. (The cafe has closed.)

The Stanford researchers then shared Brainwash. According to research papers, it was used in China by academics associated with the National University of Defense Technology and Megvii, an artificial intelligence company that The New York Times previously reported has provided surveillance technology for monitoring Uighurs.

The Brainwash data set was removed from its original website last month after Adam Harvey, an activist in Germany who tracks the use of these repositories through a website called MegaPixels, drew attention to it. Links between Brainwash and papers describing work to build A.I. systems at the National University of Defense Technology in China have also been deleted, according to documentation from Mr. Harvey.

Stanford researchers who oversaw Brainwash did not respond to requests for comment. “As part of the research process, Stanford routinely makes research documentation and supporting materials available publicly,” a university official said. “Once research materials are made public, the university does not track their use nor did university officials.”

Duke University researchers also started a database in 2014 using eight cameras on campus to collect images, according to a 2016 paper published as part of the European Conference on Computer Vision. The cameras were denoted with signs, said Carlo Tomasi, the Duke computer science professor who helped create the database. The signs gave a number or email for people to opt out.

The Duke researchers ultimately gathered more than two million video frames with images of over 2,700 people, according to the paper. They also posted the data set, named Duke MTMC, online. It was later cited in myriad documents describing work to train A.I. in the United States, in China, in Japan, in Britain and elsewhere.

Duke University researchers started building a database in 2014 using eight cameras on campus to collect images.CreditOpen Data Commons Attribution License, via Megapixels
The Duke researchers ultimately gathered more than two million video frames with images of over 2,700 people.CreditOpen Data Commons Attribution License, via Megapixels

Dr. Tomasi said that his research group did not do face recognition and that the MTMC was unlikely to be useful for such technology because of poor angles and lighting.

“Our data was recorded to develop and test computer algorithms that analyze complex motion in video,” he said. “It happened to be people, but it could have been bicycles, cars, ants, fish, amoebas or elephants.”

At Microsoft, researchers have claimed on the company’s website to have created one of the biggest face data sets. The collection, called MS Celeb, spanned over 10 million images of more than 100,000 people.

MS Celeb was ostensibly a database of celebrities, whose images are considered fair game because they are public figures. But MS Celeb also brought in photos of privacy and security activists, academics and others, such as Shoshana Zuboff, the author of the book “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism,” according to documentation from Mr. Harvey of the MegaPixels project. MS Celeb was distributed internationally, before being removed this spring after Mr. Harvey and others flagged it.

Kim Zetter, a cybersecurity journalist in San Francisco who has written for Wired and The Intercept, was one of the people who unknowingly became part of the Microsoft data set.

“We’re all just fodder for the development of these surveillance systems,” she said. “The idea that this would be shared with foreign governments and military is just egregious.”

Matt Zeiler, founder and chief executive of Clarifai, the A.I. start-up, said his company had built a face database with images from OkCupid, a dating site. He said Clarifai had access to OkCupid’s photos because some of the dating site’s founders invested in his company.

He added that he had signed a deal with a large social media company — he declined to disclose which — to use its images in training face recognition models. The social network’s terms of service allow for this kind of sharing, he said.

“There has to be some level of trust with tech companies like Clarifai to put powerful technology to good use, and get comfortable with that,” he said.

An OkCupid spokeswoman said Clarifai contacted the company in 2014 “about collaborating to determine if they could build unbiased A.I. and facial recognition technology” and that the dating site “did not enter into any commercial agreement then and have no relationship with them now.” She did not address whether Clarifai had gained access to OkCupid’s photos without its consent.

Clarifai used the images from OkCupid to build a service that could identify the age, sex and race of detected faces, Mr. Zeiler said. The start-up also began working on a tool to collect images from a website called Insecam — short for “insecure camera” — which taps into surveillance cameras in city centers and private spaces without authorization. Clarifai’s project was shut down last year after some employees protested and before any images were gathered, he said.

Mr. Zeiler said Clarifai would sell its facial recognition technology to foreign governments, military operations and police departments provided the circumstances were right. It did not make sense to place blanket restrictions on the sale of technology to entire countries, he added.

Ms. O’Sullivan, the former Clarifai technologist, has joined a civil rights and privacy group called the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project. She is now part of a team of researchers building a tool that will let people check whether their image is part of the openly shared face databases.

“You are part of what made the system what it is,” she said.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The Fish Is Boneless. (Fishless, Too.)

First, there was the meatless burger. Soon we may have fishless fish.

Impossible Foods, the California company behind the meatless Impossible Whopper now available at Burger King, is joining a crowded field of food companies developing alternatives to traditional seafood with plant-based recipes or laboratory techniques that allow scientists to grow fish from cells.

So far, much of Impossible’s work has focused on the biochemistry of fish flavor, which can be reproduced using heme, the same protein undergirding its meat formula, according to Pat Brown, the company’s chief executive. Last month, Impossible’s 124-person research and development team, which the company plans to increase to around 200 by the end of next year, produced an anchovy-flavored broth made from plants, he said.

“It was being used to make paella,” Mr. Brown said. “But you could use it to make Caesar dressing or something like that.”

The fishless-fish project is part of Impossible’s grand ambitions to devise tasty replacements for every animal-based food on the market by 2035. Whether that aim is achievable, either scientifically or financially, remains to be seen. But for now, Mr. Brown said, he’s confident Impossible’s plant-based beef recipe can be reconfigured to simulate a new source of protein.

It’s unclear whether consumers — even those who eat meatless burgers — will embrace fish alternatives. Those faux-beef products owe their success partly to the enthusiasm of so-called flexitarians, people who want to reduce their meat consumption without fully converting to vegetarianism, but flexitarians are not necessarily motivated by a desire to save the planet. Indeed, industry experts say, many of them are drawn to plant-based meat more for its perceived health benefits than for its role in reducing the food industry’s reliance on production techniques that release greenhouse gases.

“A lot of people will simply say if you eat meat, you’re increasing your risk of cancer,” said Tom Rees, who studies the packaged food industry for the market research firm Euromonitor International. “There isn’t an equivalent of that for fish.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_156981888_af929d37-557d-47d6-bd64-73192041d358-articleLarge The Fish Is Boneless. (Fishless, Too.) Vegetarianism seafood Research Meat Impossible Foods Inc Health Foods Food Fish Farming

Good Catch Tuna, made from plants, is available at Whole Foods.CreditKelsey McClellan for The New York Times

Proponents of plant-based fish describe the project as an environmental imperative. While billions of people across the world depend on seafood as their main source of protein, the world’s marine fish stocks are 90 percent depleted, primarily because of overfishing, according to the World Economic Forum.

“The commercial fishing industry is strip mining oceans and destroying aquatic ecosystems in a way that makes the plundering of the Amazon rain forest seem like small potatoes,” said Bruce Friedrich, who runs the Good Food Institute, an organization that advocates alternatives to meat and fish.

[What you eat has an effect on climate change. Here’s how.]

Mr. Brown called the depletion of fish populations “an ongoing meltdown” that world leaders lacked the political will to stop. One widespread strategy to combat the problem — aquaculture, or the breeding of fish on commercial farms — has its own environmental consequences, including pollution.

“With respect to the urgency of the environmental impact, fish are second to cows, followed by other animals,” Mr. Brown said. “That’s how I view it, and that factors into how we think about priority.”

Leigh Habegger, executive director for the Seafood Harvesters of America, an industry group, disputed Mr. Brown’s analysis of the commercial fishing business, arguing that American fishing companies have made great strides in improving the sustainability of the industry.

“Eating wild-caught, American seafood should be an easy choice,” Ms. Habegger said. “When consumers purchase seafood harvested in their waters, they’re supporting coastal communities and small businesses, and there’s no question as to the health and sustainability of that seafood.”

Justin Kolbeck, left, and Aryé Elfenbein, founders of Wild Type.CreditKelsey McClellan for The New York Times

Still, Impossible Foods is not the only company developing fishless fish. Good Catch, another specialist in plant-based food, recently started a line of fish-free tuna, which is available at Whole Foods. When the first shipment arrived at the end of last year, Chris Kerr, a chief executive at the company, and his wife celebrated with a three-week binge.

“We ate tuna melts every day,” Mr. Kerr said. “It was fantastic.”

Mr. Kerr said Good Catch’s tuna — which is made from six plant-based ingredients, including chickpea flour and lentil protein — was marketed toward consumers of all stripes, not just the relatively small number who are vegetarians or vegans.

“That’s a very fantastic group to do proof of concept with,” he said. “But it won’t change the world.”

Beyond Meat, Impossible’s primary competitor, is unlikely to develop a plant-based product in the near future. “Beyond Meat continues to focus its innovation on three core platforms — beef, poultry and pork,” said Ethan Brown, the chief executive. “You can’t serve too many masters.”

Not all the companies developing sustainable seafood alternatives use plants. At the San Francisco company Wild Type, the co-founders, Aryé Elfenbein and Justin Kolbeck, are using cellular agriculture technology to grow salmon in a lab, obviating the need for a fishless, plant-based recipe.

“There are some limitations when you try to reconstitute the same texture from plant ingredients,” Mr. Elfenbein said. With lab-grown salmon, he added, the texture is “programmed in.”

Wild Type held a tasting of of its lab-grown salmon last month in Portland, Ore.CreditKelsey McClellan for The New York Times

“The cells know what to do,” Mr. Elfenbein said. “They become muscle fibers. They become fat tissue. They create the connective tissue that we know as meat.”

Last month, Wild Type held a tasting at a restaurant in Portland, Ore., where guests were served an array of salmon dishes — from Hawaiian poke to ceviche verde to sushi rolls — all made from fish the company had cultured.

Still, Wild Type faces significant financial and scientific hurdles. Citing regulatory complexities, Mr. Elfenbein and Mr. Kolbeck declined to say how long it will take before their project produces a commercially viable product. And at the moment, the company can produce only relatively small amounts of fish: It took three and a half weeks to create the pound of salmon served at the tasting.

“Scaling up is the problem,” said Ricardo San Martin, the research director of the alternative meat program at the University of California, Berkeley. “We have to be more humble in that we’re dealing with structures and solutions that the evolution of biology have come up with in millions of years.”

Mr. Brown, the Impossible Foods chief executive, acknowledged that “consumers aren’t crying out for plant-based fish.” But he predicted that would change if Impossible released fish products that mimicked the taste and texture of the real thing.

“The only way we can succeed,” he said, “is to make fish from plants that is more delicious than the fish that’s strip mined from the ocean.”

Until they tasted beef-free beef, he added, customers “weren’t crying out for plant-based burgers, either.”

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The Gender Gap in Computer Science Research Won’t Close for 100 Years

Westlake Legal Group 21techgender-facebookJumbo The Gender Gap in Computer Science Research Won’t Close for 100 Years Women and Girls Research gender Computers and the Internet Artificial Intelligence Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence Academic and Scientific Journals

SAN FRANCISCO — Women will not reach parity with men in writing published computer science research in this century if current trends hold, according to a study released on Friday.

The enduring gender gap is most likely a reflection of the low number of women now in computer science, said researchers at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, a research lab in Seattle that produced the study. It could also reflect, in part, a male bias in the community of editors who manage scientific journals and conferences.

Big technology companies are facing increasing pressure to address workplace issues like sexual harassment and a lack of representation by women as well as minorities among technical employees.

The increasing reliance on computer algorithms in areas as varied as hiring and artificial intelligence has also led to concerns that the tech industry’s dominantly white and male work forces are building biases into the technology underlying those systems.

The Allen Institute study analyzed more than 2.87 million computer science papers published between 1970 and 2018, using first names as a proxy for the gender of each author. The method is not perfect — and it does not consider transgender authors — but it gives a statistical indication of where the field is headed.

In 2018, the number of male authors in the collection of computer science papers was about 475,000 compared with 175,000 women.

The researchers tracked the change in the percentage of female authors each year and used that information to statistically predict future changes. There is a wide range of possibilities. The most realistic possibility is gender parity in 2137. But there is a chance parity will never be reached, the researchers said.

Other science fields fared better. In biomedicine, for example, gender parity is forecast to arrive around 2048, according to the study. About 27 percent of researchers in computer science are women, versus 38 percent in biomedicine, according to the study.

While the study focused on research published in academic journals, the trends may apply to the technology industry as well as academia. Companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft that are working on A.I. are publishing much of their most important research in the same journals as academics.

Academia is also where the next generation of tech workers is taught.

“This definitely affects the field as a whole,” said Lucy Lu Wang, a researcher with the Allen Institute. “When there is a lack of leadership in computer science departments, it affects the number of women students who are trained and the number that enter the computer science industry.”

The study also indicated that men are growing less likely to collaborate with female researchers — a particularly worrying trend in a field where women have long felt unwelcome and because studies have shown that diverse teams can produce better research.

Compiled by Ms. Lu and several other researchers at the Allen Institute, the study is in line with similar research published by academics in Australia and Canada. While gender parity is relatively near in many of the life sciences, these studies showed, it remains at least a century away in physics and mathematics.

“We were hoping for a positive result, because we all had the sense that the number of women authors was growing,” said Oren Etzioni, the former University of Washington professor who oversees the Allen Institute. “But the results were, frankly, shocking.”

Other research has shown that women are less likely to enter computer science — and stick with it — if they don’t have female role models, mentors and collaborators.

“There is a problem with retention,” said Jamie Lundine, a researcher at the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies at the University of Ottawa. “Even when women are choosing computer science, they can end up in school and work environments that are inhospitable.”

Many artificial intelligence technologies, like face-recognition services and conversational systems, are designed to learn from large amounts of data, such as thousands of photos of faces. The biases of researchers can easily be introduced into the technology, reinforcing the importance of diversity among the people working on it.

“This is a problem not just when it comes to choosing the data, but when it comes to choosing the projects we want to tackle,” Ms. Wang said.

The Allen Institute study adds to a mounting collection of research pointing to the challenges women face in tech. A recent study of researchers exploring “natural language understanding” — the A.I. field that involves conversational systems and related technologies — shows that women are less likely to reach leadership positions in the field.

“There is still a glass ceiling,” said Natalie Schluter, a professor at IT University in Denmark who specializes in natural language understanding and the author of the study.

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The Gender Gap in Computer Science Research Won’t Close for 100 Years

Westlake Legal Group 21techgender-facebookJumbo The Gender Gap in Computer Science Research Won’t Close for 100 Years Women and Girls Research gender Computers and the Internet Artificial Intelligence Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence Academic and Scientific Journals

SAN FRANCISCO — Women will not reach parity with men in writing published computer science research in this century if current trends hold, according to a study released on Friday.

The enduring gender gap is most likely a reflection of the low number of women now in computer science, said researchers at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, a research lab in Seattle that produced the study. It could also reflect, in part, a male bias in the community of editors who manage scientific journals and conferences.

Big technology companies are facing increasing pressure to address workplace issues like sexual harassment and a lack of representation by women as well as minorities among technical employees.

The increasing reliance on computer algorithms in areas as varied as hiring and artificial intelligence has also led to concerns that the tech industry’s dominantly white and male work forces are building biases into the technology underlying those systems.

The Allen Institute study analyzed more than 2.87 million computer science papers published between 1970 and 2018, using first names as a proxy for the gender of each author. The method is not perfect — and it does not consider transgender authors — but it gives a statistical indication of where the field is headed.

In 2018, the number of male authors in the collection of computer science papers was about 475,000 compared with 175,000 women.

The researchers tracked the change in the percentage of female authors each year and used that information to statistically predict future changes. There is a wide range of possibilities. The most realistic possibility is gender parity in 2137. But there is a chance parity will never be reached, the researchers said.

Other science fields fared better. In biomedicine, for example, gender parity is forecast to arrive around 2048, according to the study. About 27 percent of researchers in computer science are women, versus 38 percent in biomedicine, according to the study.

While the study focused on research published in academic journals, the trends may apply to the technology industry as well as academia. Companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft that are working on A.I. are publishing much of their most important research in the same journals as academics.

Academia is also where the next generation of tech workers is taught.

“This definitely affects the field as a whole,” said Lucy Lu Wang, a researcher with the Allen Institute. “When there is a lack of leadership in computer science departments, it affects the number of women students who are trained and the number that enter the computer science industry.”

The study also indicated that men are growing less likely to collaborate with female researchers — a particularly worrying trend in a field where women have long felt unwelcome and because studies have shown that diverse teams can produce better research.

Compiled by Ms. Lu and several other researchers at the Allen Institute, the study is in line with similar research published by academics in Australia and Canada. While gender parity is relatively near in many of the life sciences, these studies showed, it remains at least a century away in physics and mathematics.

“We were hoping for a positive result, because we all had the sense that the number of women authors was growing,” said Oren Etzioni, the former University of Washington professor who oversees the Allen Institute. “But the results were, frankly, shocking.”

Other research has shown that women are less likely to enter computer science — and stick with it — if they don’t have female role models, mentors and collaborators.

“There is a problem with retention,” said Jamie Lundine, a researcher at the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies at the University of Ottawa. “Even when women are choosing computer science, they can end up in school and work environments that are inhospitable.”

Many artificial intelligence technologies, like face-recognition services and conversational systems, are designed to learn from large amounts of data, such as thousands of photos of faces. The biases of researchers can easily be introduced into the technology, reinforcing the importance of diversity among the people working on it.

“This is a problem not just when it comes to choosing the data, but when it comes to choosing the projects we want to tackle,” Ms. Wang said.

The Allen Institute study adds to a mounting collection of research pointing to the challenges women face in tech. A recent study of researchers exploring “natural language understanding” — the A.I. field that involves conversational systems and related technologies — shows that women are less likely to reach leadership positions in the field.

“There is still a glass ceiling,” said Natalie Schluter, a professor at IT University in Denmark who specializes in natural language understanding and the author of the study.

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An 8-hour work week: How’s that sound?

Westlake Legal Group OfficeEmptyCubiclesEdtd An 8-hour work week: How’s that sound? Top Picks Research mental health change research average workweek

Pretty darned good probably. At least to workers.

A team of British researchers spent almost 10 years studying 71,000 working age Britons.

The premise was that automation is advancing rapidly in the industrialized world, raising the spectre of jobless futures for millions. Besides paid income, jobs also provide psychological benefits from production and work satisfaction, as well as generally pleasing social interactions.

But what amount of work produces the optimum mental health for workers?

Researchers probed workers’ life satisfactions, their mental health, how workdays and work patterns changed and what sort of work patterns were most beneficial to their mental well-being,

Not that they were employed to be happy but that might make a good possible match if it improved personal lives as well as, say, work production.

The workers were asked numerous questions including their anxieties, sleep patterns and work assignments and how they might be tied to their mental health.

“We know unemployment is often detrimental to people’s well-being,” said Dr Brendan Burchell, a sociologist at Cambridge University, “negatively affecting identity, status, time use and sense of collective purpose. We now have some idea of just how much paid work is needed to get the psycho-social benefits of employment — and it’s not that much at all.”

Authors of the study, published Thursday in Science Daily, noted that the near future will see artificial intelligence, robotics and big data replacing much of the work currently done by humans, much the way, for instance, copiers replaced clerks once paid to hand-complete copies of official documents like birth certificates.

Dr Daiga Kamer, one of the study’s authors, said:

If there is not enough (work) for everybody who wants to work full-time, we will have to rethink current norms. This should include the redistribution of working hours, so everyone can get the mental health benefits of a job, even if that means we all work much shorter weeks.

The study concluded — wait for it — that the maximal work week for a human was eight hours. There was no more mental or personal satisfaction derived from working more hours or days. One shift was sufficient.

Now, you might ask, what employer wants to hire eight times as many workers and pay their benefits and Social Security, to get the same production?

The answer, of course, is none. That would seriously corrode their mental health. Also financial.

The post An 8-hour work week: How’s that sound? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Pelosi on Trump saying he’d accept foreign dirt: It’s more evidence that he doesn’t know right from wrong

Westlake Legal Group np Pelosi on Trump saying he’d accept foreign dirt: It’s more evidence that he doesn’t know right from wrong wray Trump The Blog Russia Research pelosi opposition oppo foreign Federal Bureau of Investigation dirt crime

Before you ask, no, this doesn’t mean she’s any closer to impeaching him. As Greg Pollowitz said earlier on Twitter today, Pelosi has now adopted her own version of Trump’s famous comment from the 2016 campaign. He could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and she still wouldn’t impeach him for it.

Depending on the day, my reaction to the claim that Trump doesn’t know right from wrong would be either “Well, yes, obviously” or “Well, yes, obviously, but that’s true of a lot of people in Washington.” (If you want to counter that it’s less a matter of them not knowing than not caring, fine.) The Trump fans who responded to last night’s unpleasantness by noting that Hillary sought dirt on him from foreign individuals via the Steele dossier are right, of course. Ed Morrissey was also right, and drew a better analogy to the collusion question at the heart of Russiagate, when he pointed out in this morning’s post that Team Hillary received some help on their Trump oppo effort from Ukrainian government officials. There’s a material difference, I think, between pressing foreign randos on what they know about your opponent and accepting dirt that’s volunteered by a foreign government. A foreign government will have a political agenda in offering information, may be more willing to lie in the name of advancing that agenda, and will certainly have more sophisticated means of fabricating information than the average person will. Use their oppo and you’re handing a possibly/probably unethical foreign regime influence over the outcome of an American election.

And you’ll owe them for it.

That’s why the Hillary/Ukraine relationship is more troubling than the Hillary/Steele one. Although you don’t need a 2016 analogue if you’re looking to let Trump off the hook for his comments in the ABC interview. Is it really true that Team Biden would instantly call the FBI if Chinese officials reached out to say that Trump spent decades laundering money for the Russian government and they’ve obtained the paperwork that proves it? Some Biden aides might want to, but others would inevitably argue that if evidence exists proving that the president is corrupt, they have a patriotic duty to see that that evidence is laid before voters. It’s not just a matter of electoral advantage, it’s a matter of making sure that someone who’s compromised doesn’t assume the presidency and find him- or herself subject to blackmail.

Which is precisely what Team Trump would say about their interest in hearing out the Russian lawyer at that meeting in Trump Tower in 2016.

David Frum makes another point to distinguish oppo research, which is what the Steele dossier was, from the sort of dirt that the Trump campaign was interested in three years ago. One was the product of a crime committed against Americans, the other was not.

Frum’s kidding himself if he thinks “nobody” would have objected to Team Trump putting people on the ground in Russia to sniff around about Uranium One, but never mind that. It’s true that the campaign gleefully promoted the hacked DNC/Podesta emails that were released through Wikileaks, but that wasn’t what was offered to Don Jr before the Trump Tower meeting. Rob Goldstone told Junior that it involved “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia.” POTUS told Stephanopoulos last night that “maybe” he’d go to the FBI “if I thought there was something wrong” with dirt on an opponent offered by foreigners. Trump being Trump, he wouldn’t, but that was his concession that it’d be shifty to use illegally obtained information — never mind that he cheerled for publication of the hacked emails in 2016.

If China hacked Trump’s financial records and put them on the Internet next year, would *no* Democrat ever so much as reference them? C’mon.

Hair-splitting about the dossier, the help Hillary got from Ukraine, and the hacked emails misses the core point, though, which is that the president shouldn’t be on television winking at foreigners that he might take dirt on his opponent from them in 2020. He’s incentivizing foreign interference in the next election. NBC reported just a few days ago that officials from at least 22 different countries have spent money at Trump properties since he became president, never mind the implications that may have for the Emoluments Clause. Diplomats have been flocking to the Trump Hotel in Washington since before he was inaugurated. Everyone understands the value of doing a favor for this president, financial or otherwise. So here he is on ABC telling the world he’s amenable to favors in the form of oppo on Democrats seemingly without much care about what forms that oppo might take. It’s a green light to hack. The argument for electing him instead of Clinton in 2016 was that Hillary was an amoral reptile who embodied the swamp and America needed to be better than that to be great again. The argument for defending Trump now on what he said to Stephanopoulos is “Well, he’s really no worse than Hillary.” Congratulations.

Exit question via Marco Rubio: If the Chinese government sends proof of Trump’s criminal activity to the New York Times instead of to the Biden campaign, will the Times call the FBI? If the concern here is about letting a hostile power influence a presidential election with dirt obtained through scurrilous means, laundering oppo through the media will do the job just as well as handing it off to a candidate will. So, again, will the Times call the FBI?

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Their Fathers Never Spoke of the War. Their Children Want to Know Why.

NEW ORLEANS — All his life, Joseph Griesser hungered to hear the story of his father’s Army service in World War II.

What he had were vague outlines: that Lt. Frank Griesser had splashed onto Omaha Beach on D-Day; that his lifelong pronounced limp had come from an artillery blast. But the details? They remained largely unspoken until the day his father died in 1999, leaving Mr. Griesser wishing he knew more.

“He never talked about it; I just knew he was injured in the war,” said Mr. Griesser, who lives in Stone Harbor, N.J. “We went to see the movie ‘The Longest Day’ together, but that was pretty much the extent of our conversation about the war. I think he just wanted to put it behind him.”

Many of the Americans who fought to crush the Axis in World War II came home feeling the same way — so many, in fact, that those lauded as the Greatest Generation might just as easily be called the Quietest.

Where did they serve? What did they do and see? Spouses and children often learned not to ask. And by now, most no longer have the chance: Fewer than 3 percent of the 16 million American veterans of the war are still alive, and all are in their 90s or beyond.

But that has not kept their children and grandchildren from wanting to know their stories, especially as the 75th anniversaries of the D-Day invasion and the other triumphs of the war’s final year have neared. And a growing number of them are turning to experts to help glean what they can from cryptic, yellowed military records.

“We have people calling every day to try to find out about their fathers,” said Tanja Spitzer, a researcher at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. “They regret that they didn’t do anything when their parents were alive. We get a lot of apologizing about it. For them, it is very emotional.”

Ms. Spitzer tells them it is not too late. Among the nation’s many staggering accomplishments in World War II were the billions of pages of personnel files that War Department and Navy clerks amassed to keep track of everyone in uniform. Most of those records still exist, stored in a climate-controlled facility in St. Louis by the National Archives and Records Administration.

The repository is immense, with enough boxes of files to stretch more than 545 miles. The boxes hold everything from the mundane, like payrolls and medical screening forms, to the heart-tugging: photos of young recruits, letters from worried mothers, medal citations. Researchers can use them to recreate the individual stories that many troops never told.

“We can tell a lot,” Ms. Spitzer said. “If you know what you are looking for, you can really create a full picture.”

[Read about researchers in France digging up the physical remains of the Normandy invasion.]

Responding to the growing interest, the museum created a research team this year focused solely on piecing together profiles of veterans from the archives, joining an array of military historians-for-hire who work with families like the Griessers.

“It’s a lot of sons and daughters, wishing they had the conversations that were too painful to have when their fathers were still alive,” said William Beigel, an independent historian in Redondo Beach, Calif., who has been researching World War II veterans for 20 years. He said demand has been surging as the ranks of living veterans have dwindled, and he now gets as many as 25 requests a day.

“Sometimes they start to cry on the phone about how much they loved their dad, and how he had horrible nightmares, but would never talk about it,” he said.

Mr. Beigel was able to document the daily movements of Mr. Griesser’s father from the Normandy beaches through the vicious fighting in the hedgerow country to the east, where he was decorated for valor and wounded by the blast of a German artillery shell.

Using that information, Mr. Griesser and his family traveled to France in May to retrace his father’s steps, and he plans to make a documentary about the trip for his family to pass down.

“It was very moving to be on the exact spot where he had been, and to think about how hard they really had it,” Mr. Griesser said.

The usual starting point for the research is the repository in St. Louis, a vast building crowded with more than six acres of shelves stacked 29 feet high. “It looks almost exactly like the last scene in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’: endless shelves of stuff,” said Eric Kilgore, the research room supervisor.

The archives once held a file for nearly every veteran who served in either world war. But in July 1973, a fire broke out in the stacks that took firefighters four days to extinguish. Millions of documents were burned; millions more were left soaking wet, and soon began to molder in the muggy Missouri heat.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_155015067_4082aef8-d511-48b9-8b16-fa30b201526b-articleLarge Their Fathers Never Spoke of the War. Their Children Want to Know Why. World War II (1939-45) Veterans United States Defense and Military Forces Robinson, James (d. 1945) Research National World War II Museum (New Orleans, La) National Archives and Records Administration Museums Families and Family Life Archives and Records

A letter from Lieutenant James Robinson to his wife.CreditCooper Neill for The New York Times

Navy and Marine Corps records were unharmed, but an estimated 80 percent of all Army records from World War II were ruined. Archivists have tried to reconstruct some files by drawing from other sources, but they say millions are lost forever.

“Sometimes, everything was destroyed but a name on a payroll,” said Dan Olmsted, a researcher at the World War II museum. “But fire is funny. Sometimes files that were in the middle of the fire were spared.”

That makes file requests on Army veterans something of a dice roll. But Mr. Olmsted said he has often pored over pages half-eaten by flames and rumpled by water damage and still been able to make out the vital details of a soldier’s life.

Anyone can view World War II personnel records at the St. Louis archive without charge. But the documents are often laced with military jargon and abbreviations that can be tough for a layman to decipher.

“You might as well be reading ancient Sumerian,” said Robert Citino, a historian who directs the research program at the museum.

Skilled researchers, he said, can interpret the personnel files and combine them with other records, like the commanders’ daily reports that amounted to a diary of each fighting unit, to weave a narrative of where soldiers went and what they did, sometimes in striking detail.

Their services come at a cost. Simply having a researcher pull and scan a service member’s file from the National Archives costs about $100. Combing other records to flesh out a narrative can run to many times that. For $2,500, the museum team will assemble a bound biography of a service member that includes historical context along with whatever photos and records are in the archives.

Many descendants say that finally knowing their relative’s story is worth the price.

Dolores Milhous remembers her father, Lt. James E. Robinson Jr., only as the tall man who came through the screen door and hoisted her onto his shoulders shortly before he shipped out. When he was killed in combat in the spring of 1945, she was 2 years old.

“Mother always talked about him,” said Ms. Milhous, 76, who lives in Dallas. “But there was so much I didn’t know — things I wished I asked before Mother passed away, but I hesitated because it made her so sad.”

Knowing that the memory of her father would only erode further as it was passed down to her five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, she asked the museum researchers to look for his file.

They returned with a stack of 240 partially burned pages from the archive, detailing a stunning story she had known in outline but not detail: Her father, a slight 25-year-old with a slim mustache and a Texas accent, had turned the tide in a battle involving thousands of men, and was posthumously awarded the military’s highest award for heroism, the Medal of Honor.

As an Army forward observer, Lieutenant Robinson’s job was to work his way up close to enemy positions and radio in coordinates for artillery strikes. In April 1945, his infantry regiment had pushed deep into Germany and was crossing a river when it ran into tough resistance: 1,800 men from an SS Panzer division, dug in on high ground.

His company of about 100 men attacked across an open field, but the Germans hit back hard. They attacked again before dawn the next day, but the SS troops were ready, raking them with machine-gun fire and pounding them with mortars. By noon, half the company was dead or wounded, and the rest were pinned down. At that crucial moment, the company commander was shot in the head by a sniper.

That left Lieutenant Robinson, who had next to no leadership experience, in command.

“Fully aware of the hopelessness of the situation, knowing that if the company remained in that position they would be annihilated in a very short time, he would have been justified in withdrawing,” read a singed report in the file, typed by a sergeant shortly after the battle. Instead, Lieutenant Robinson, “with complete disregard for his personal safety, amid the deadly hail of bullets and shells, gallantly and courageously rose to his feet and coolly walked among the men, shouting encouragement,” the report said.

He led a charge up the hill, jumping into enemy trenches and killing 10 German soldiers at close range, records showed. The company rallied behind him and overran the position.

Though the unit was down to just one-quarter strength, the lieutenant urged the men on to rout the enemy from a nearby village. At its edge, an enemy mortar round exploded next to him, sending hot shrapnel through his larynx.

Bleeding down his chest and barely able to speak, Lieutenant Robinson refused first aid and continued for hours to call in artillery strikes. At sunset, with the Germans finally driven off, he walked wordlessly back to the closest aid station, a mile and a half away. He died on an operating table a few hours later.

Ms. Milhous had heard as a child that her father was a hero, but the archive’s detailed records filled in the gaps, reassured her that the stories were more than just legends, and gave her something concrete to pass down.

“It finally puts things to rest,” she said. “And I can rest too, knowing his memory is preserved.”

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