The geoglyph was discovered during a larger research project by Yamagata University. Over a decade, using a combination of on-site surveying and aerial imagery, archeologists from the university manually identified 142 new designs in the desert. Then, working with researchers from IBM Japan, they used machine learning to scan the data for designs missed in earlier studies. This revealed geoglyph number 143, our fellow with the cane. It’s the first design in the Nazca Lines to be discovered with the help of artificial intelligence.
This work is another example of how machine learning can help scientists, especially when faced with tasks involving large datasets. Algorithms can be trained to search through certain sorts of information just like humans, looking for patterns and anomalies. Building these tools can be tricky, but once trained, such algorithms are tireless and consistent. They have been used to track down everything from gravitational lenses to earthquakes.
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