Researchers have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) programme that can automatically identify microscopic marine organisms, according to a new study.
The study showed that specifically, the AI programme has proven capable of identifying six species of foraminifera or forams -- organisms that have been prevalent in Earth's oceans for more than 100 million years.
"At this point, the AI correctly identifies the forams about 80 per cent of the time, which is better than most trained humans," said Edgar Lobaton, Associate Professor at the North Carolina State University.
"We also plan to expand the AI's purview, so that it can identify at least 35 species of forams, rather than the current six," said Lobaton.
The current system works by placing a foram under a microscope capable of taking photographs. An LED ring shines light onto the foram from 16 directions -- one at a time -- while taking an image of the foram with each change in light.
These 16 images are combined to provide as much geometric information as possible about the foram's shape.
The AI then uses this information to identify the foram's species, said the study, published in the journal Marine Micropaleontology.
"This work demonstrates the successful first step toward building a robotic platform that will be able to identify, pick and sort forams automatically," Lobaton noted.
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