Category Archives: Communications

Training an Object Detector with TensorFlow

Have you ever heard of Tesla’s Model S sedan? It is one of the few cars capable of fully autonomous driving. Although U.S. laws currently do not permit this, the Model S can pick you up at your house and drop you off at school, all without you even touching the steering wheel. To create a self-driving vehicle, Tesla engineers had to employ many machine learning techniques, including an object detector that recognizes and classifies objects around the car. For example, the on-board camera is able to recognize pedestrians and instructs the car to stop. Another example is that the object detector recognizes other vehicles on the road, keeping the Tesla from colliding into them.

With the use of the TensorFlow Object Detection API, creating such a model (though probably not as accurate as the one Tesla developed) can now be done with consumer-grade equipment such as a personal computer. As promised in last week’s blog, I will discuss how to create a customized object detector with the TensorFlow API.

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Ça va . . . (part 3) — Ethan

Eight more pages! I’m finished with the entire media section, and started the synthesis of the history and the media narrative. Being at this point in the first draft is a similar feeling to being at the same point in my outline: I can envision the conclusion of my argument, and that’s supremely exciting. So far, this section has been the most fun to organize and structure, mainly because it’s my own — my own argument, that I get to craft to be the strongest it can be.

I’m doing well at listening to my willingness to write at any given time, and writing a few paragraphs here and there as I feel like it, or working through what I’ve written and rearranging points to my argument, and this seems to be how this particular paper wants to be written. Creating content still takes priority, most of the time, but for this section especially from time to time I spend a little bit here and there refining it.

I expect to finish the first draft by the end of the month, and then it’ll be time for T. Olga to sink her teeth into it — her words, not mine.

So it goes . . .

 

— EDM

Installing TensorFlow on Windows (Part II) – Kevin

In last week’s blog, I wrote about the installation process of TensorFlow on a PC. In this blog, I will continue my tutorial on TensorFlow installation.

Step 3: Installing TensorFlow
At the time of writing, there are two supported ways of installing TensorFlow:

  • Native pip
  • Anaconda

While native pip installs TensorFlow directly onto your computer, Anaconda allows you to create a virtual environment and install TensorFlow into that environment. The benefit of this is to help you avoid unwanted interference with other packages. However, if you do chose to use Anaconda, you will not be able to access the TensorFlow package globally (from any directory on your computer). The following chart compares the two different installation methods:

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We All Hate the Culture of Hate- Liv

We all hate the culture of hate in which we live. 

         We can all admit to the fact that at some point in our lives, if not now, we have treated another group as inferior, or automatically thought something laced with bias the second we saw a person who looked different than us. But, if someone asked you if you were a hateful person, would you say yes? As human beings, none of us are born hateful, but instead we are exposed to the culture around us that systematically implements ideas of hate, discrimination, and bias against certain groups of people. We all agree on the fact that a world without hate would be a better one, but the truth is, very little of us are able to admit to the fact that each and every one of us contributes to this culture of hate every day.

         Sally Kohn, an advocate for urging others to see the humanity and likeness across all types of people, recently did a TED Talk called What We Can Do About the Culture of Hate, to which I have linked down below. She begins her talk by sharing a deeply personal story about how she, herself, was a merciless bully when she was a young girl. It wasn’t until a feeling of hypocrisy overcame her when she began to research and teach others about the importance of kindness and acceptance that she realized the extent of her actions as a kid. This, to me, was extremely inspiring and moving; the ability to admit one’s own fault takes a huge amount of courage and self-awareness that many people lack.  However, she used that own first-hand experience as a bully to further inspire her to really distinguish what exactly causes people to hate.

         As she discusses in her talk, there is a very wide spectrum of the concept of ‘hate’. This may be the reason people have such trouble noticing their own feelings of hate towards others; it is so easy to dismiss our own negative feelings by comparing them to much worse instances of hate. Kohn asked her audience a question that really struck me: on one end of the spectrum is hate on a mass scale through horrific crimes like genocide, and on the other side, there are acts of prejudice so small that many might not even notice. However, aren’t the two still considered hate? Don’t they both stem from the same roots? Because no one even wants to entertain the fact of placing themselves on the same scale as the historical examples of the worst possible instances of hate, we, as a society, find ourselves in a trap. Kohn made a great point on this topic by saying that when we choose to convince ourselves that we do not hate, we automatically place ourselves above those who do. This itself is redundant; the act of feeling superior to other groups is one of the most fundamental actions of hate.

        Therefore, to extinguish racism, homophobia, sexism, or any other negative connotations fueled by hatred, we must do the thing that seems logically the most counterproductive in this situation: admit our faults and recognize the hate we feel towards others. It’s been repeatedly shown through research that hate towards others is amplified by unfamiliarity. So, in order to make a change, we should be focusing on listening to stories of others, rather than placing blame or looking for the differences between groups. It’s easier said than done, but as Sally Kohn said, we are all capable of letting go of those feelings if we just make the effort.

– Liv

Sally Kohn’s TED Talk:  What We Can Do About the Culture of Hate

https://www.ted.com/talks/sally_kohn_what_we_can_do_about_the_culture_of_hate#t-1054044

image source: Jacobs, Liz. “Sally Kohn Talks Leaving Fox News.” TED Blog, 30 Oct. 2014, blog.ted.com/sally-kohn-on-leaving-fox-news/.

Transcribing is the Worst/Best – Sabrina

Transcribing…the enemy of any and all journalists. It is time consuming, tedious, and can even be soporific. Though at the same time, it invokes a sense of excitement.

But then I began to ask myself…why am I excited to transcribe my interviews if transcribing can be so dreary? Transcribing can be a pain: why am I excited for it? Turns out, I answered my own questions as I began to transcribe interview after interview.

As I was transcribing an interview I had with Gauri Kapoor (the founder and CEO of The Girl and I), I began to map out what her article would look like. I began to create sections, quotes, and format in my mind as I was typing and writing out her interview, and then it dawned on me: I was excited because I had concrete material and content.

Screenshot (21)

Trying to describe this and the excitement it brings is somewhat challenging, so here’s an analogy that might help: imagine you are a painter. You are about to start a new piece that you are going to put all of your energy towards. You walk into your studio, and you only have about three colors. So…you work with the three colors. You begin to create something amazing, but then you get more materials. You get more colors and brushes and your piece really starts to come to life.

My piece is this organization. I am putting everything I have into this organization, and I am beginning to get material. With each interview, I get new colors and brushes that are going to make my painting amazing; I get new perspectives and new stories that are going to make my organization amazing.

So as I do these mundane, dreary, and sometimes excruciating tasks, I let my creativity explode with new ideas and new ways to make my painting amazing

Inspired by the little things,

Sabrina Schoenborn

Founder and CEO of Project G.I.R.L


Image Citation:

Kapoor, Gauri. “Home.” The Girl And I, 2018, http://www.thegirlandi.com/.

Ça va . . . (part 2) — Ethan

I’ve written about twelve more pages (bringing the total to 35) summarizing the eleven front-page articles published by the NYT over the course of one month about the Six-Days’ War, while following some crucial themes throughout them all. This section of writing ended up being written differently than the historical section: I wrote for one to two hours each day that I worked on it, as opposed to one long burst of 4-5 hours, and I had it finished in three days

As they are now, I’m not 100% happy with the article summaries. Though I followed through with my intention to go through them one by one, in the order they were published, with a general discussion at the end about what they left the reader with, right now the summaries feel a bit repetitive and clunky. However, it’s difficult to weave too much connection into them because that material would be better suited for the discussion.

In this situation, the first-draft mentality prioritizes creating more content as opposed to refining existing content — for a woodworking analogy, perfecting the article summaries now, in the first draft, would be like fully sanding a piece of wood before I made all the cuts and carved my joints. What that means is I can’t be too attached to perfection at this stage — perfection, or as close as I can get to it, will come on its own in later drafts.

My progress is much the same as it was at the time of my last blog post. I’m still pulling from my outline, which has been incredibly helpful, as all outlines should be, still writing my first draft, and still enjoying the process. One difference is that now I’m beginning to consider options for publishing this paper, which T. Olga and I talked about at the beginning of the semester.

Well, so far, so good, I just need to keep writing — first the discussion on the articles and then the fun part: my very own argument that links the history and media together.

 

— EDM

Installing TensorFlow on Windows 10

It has been quite a while since I last wrote about machine learning. During the first week after spring break, I finally got a chance to take a closer look at TensorFlow, a software library designed for machine learning applications by Google. It was originally used by the Google Brain team and was later made open-source to the public. In this week’s blog post, I will discuss the installation of TensorFlow on PCs.

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Don’t Blame the Girls – Liv

One paragraph reads:

         “The girls themselves are conflicted about social media.  They possess a critical attitude towards it but often seem un-self-reflective in their own practices.  Girls, they acknowledge, post pictures of their assets because they get more “likes” that way.  And if the boys like you, the girls at school will, too.  However, many feel that the girls posting cleavage are insecure and doing it for attention.  Many feel uncomfortable because they feel like girls are in competition with each other to look the most attractive.  And yet most of these same girls admit that they participate in similar behavior because they want attention, too.  And they say they can’t give up social media because they would then “have no lives”–even though the lives they describe seem stressful and isolating.  These young teenage girls then grow into college students who mourn the hookup culture, feeling compelled to participate even though they say it makes them unhappy and they despair of ever finding a man who is truly interested in them and not their bodies.”

– Nancy Jo Sales, author of ‘American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers

        The author of the blog post, which is a reflection of this book, then goes on to discuss how ‘one-sided’ the book seems- and I agree. The biggest issue with this post is the extreme generalizations going on here; the author simply refers to these people as ‘girls’ and ‘boys’, which does not specify even an age or any other specifics. This leads me to believe that this author is extremely biased towards the negativity of social media on all young boys and girls, believing that it is creating a generation of attention-seeking girls who will do just about anything to appeal to the masses. Also, notice the lack of attention on the male perspective. Just as the author discusses the hyper-sexualization of girls, she also easily dismisses young men as disrespectful and objectifying misogynists. What is this saying about our society? Even if the moral of the story is focused on the destructiveness of social media on young girls, why is the author portraying these girls as if they are unable to resist harmful new trends? We should not be focusing on the girls’ inability to resist but why they feel as though it is necessary for them to take part in destructive behavior such as sending explicit photos to other young boys. The author of the book later discusses how worrying this is for parents; they believe that any teenager with a cellphone will automatically use it to expose themselves or others. Even this statement suggests that angsty, curious, and rebellious teenagers are indeed the root of the problem here, when that is not the case. This type of language possibly even supports a culture of victim-blaming, body shaming, and oppression of female sexuality.

        On the other hand, a part of me does understand where the author is coming from. Any adult looking in on the world of social media and hearing horror stories of girls who expose themselves on the internet would assume that our generation of young women aren’t anything admirable. However, it is absolutely wrong of us to believe that statement comes solely from a young woman’s own inability to make good decisions. Our generation is dealing with a completely new aspect of society: constant connection. And although that comes with many benefits, it also allows young people very easy access to negative things such as expectations of beauty or ability to immediately make absolutely anything known to the world. But when adults and authors like Nancy Jo Sales make the decision to break down the girls instead of the horrendously toxic circumstances they are under, young girls themselves will continue to shame each other and believe that blaming one another is the path they should take. If that’s all they know, why wouldn’t they?

        Perhaps one of the first steps towards a better understanding is for adults assessing the topic to change their tone of voice- instead of criticizing an entire generation of girls and discrediting their abilities to make logical choices, ask, how can we help? Where are you coming from? How do you think your experience is different than mine, and how can I better understand? If, as a society, we can offer alternative interpretations of young female behavior instead of shaming or demeaning them, and if we further our research in this area to assure accurate causality, we will be uplifting an entire generation and defining appropriate next steps.

-Liv

quoted blog:

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/23261080/posts/15561

 

The Countdown Begins… – Sabrina

IMG_9168.jpgProject G.I.R.L launches May 1st at 11:00pm……that means I have 29 days, 2 hours, 40 minutes and 38 seconds (and counting) until it launches and all of my focus is targeted towards doing whatever I need to do to allow it to launch on time.

My graphic designer has begun to polish the design, my web designer has the formatting complete and is beginning to set up the website, and I am transferring story after story into article form.

It is hard to not look down at my countdown and not immediately drop whatever I am doing and begin working on my project yet again. I find myself always wanting to go back to it… I always want to develop it and I never want to stop working on it.

It is now 29 days, 2 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds until Project G.I.R.L launches (yes….this is how I have been since April 1st).

I am both elated and utterly terrified. I am constantly going through the list of things that could go wrong, and the thought of someone being inspired by this organization.

So I put my focus forward for the week:

  • I have two interviews this week (One of which is Gauri Kapoor, Founder and CEO of The Girl and I)
  • I am transferring all of my interviews from audio to text (using Transcribe)
  • I am setting up social media platforms (a Facebook, an Instagram, and a Twitter)
  • I am having my web designer set up the basics of the website
  • And…I am remembering to breathe.

So I breathe and always keep going forward. Through lists and baby steps comes the bigger picture. Just because the finish line is getting closer, doesn’t mean I lose my pace.

Inspired by staying calm,

Sabrina Schoenborn

Founder and CEO of Project G.I.R.L


Countdown image courtesy of Countdown!! Developed by Sevenlogics, Inc.

Citations:

“Start the Countdown.” Shutterstock, 2015, http://www.shutterstock.com/image-vector/start-countdown-356844833