Facebook has been busy at work using artificial intelligence software to map global populations by scanning satellite imagery for human-built structures. The plan is to use (and share) the data to determine the best placement for internet-beaming drones, they also believe, “this data has many more impactful applications, such as socio-economic research and risk assessment for natural disasters.”
Announced last year, the project has collected 350 TB of data and has analysed over 14.6 billion satellite images over 20 countries. The data set has an incredible spatial resolution of 5m and Jay Parikh, a Facebook network engineer, explained, “the technology could spot structures as small as a tent.”
But in a time that is seeing a growth in technological privacy issues, this impressive mapping project has been garnering some mixed reviews. Emily Taylor, Associate Fellow at the Chatham House, while excited about the technological innovation aspect of the project, points out public policy issues with the mapping venture and worries that this mapping requires Facebook to know their customers at, “stalker-like levels.”
Others, like Andrew Braye, a maps expert at British Red Cross, welcome the project and open data as a method to assist vulnerable communities and support the humanitarian sectors with rapid response and better-informed decision making.
While the public grapples with the ethics and implications of this project, Facebook will continue to piece together this global map, and create a database that many will be able to use to advance human well-being initiatives.
Read BBC’s original article here.