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An approach to machine learning inspired by the human brain is about to revolutionize street search

Even if the cop who pulls you over doesn't recognize you, the body camera on his chest just might in the future.

Device-maker Motorola announced Monday that would partner with artificial intelligence software startup Neurala to build "real-time learning for a person of interest search" on Motorola products such as the Si500 body camera for police, the AI firm announced in a press release today.

Italian-born neuroscientist and Neurala founder Massimiliano Versace is the creator of patent-pending image recognition and machine learning technology. It's similar to other machine learning methods but far more scalable, so a device carried by that cop on his shoulder can learn to recognize shapes and — potentially faces — as quickly and reliably as a much larger and more powerful computer. It works by mimicking the mammalian brain, rather than the way computers have worked traditionally.

Versace's research was funded, in part, by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA under a program called SyNAPSE. In a 2010 paper for IEEE Spectrum, he describes the breakthrough. Basically, a tiny constellation of processors do the work of different parts of the brain — which is sometimes called neuromorphic computation — or "computation that can be divided up between hardware that processes like the body of a neuron and hardware that processes the way dendrites and axons do." Versace's research shows that AIs can learn in that environment using a lot less code.

Decreasing the amount of code needed for image recognition means a lot less processing, which means smaller computers needing less power can accomplish these tasks. Eventually, you get to the point where a computer the size of a body camera can recognize an image that camera has been told to look for, or at least do a lot more of the 'learning' required to make the match.

"This can unlock new applications for public safety users. In the case of a missing child, imagine if the parent showed the child's photo to a nearby police officer on patrol. The officer's body-worn camera sees the photo, the AI engine 'learns' what the child looks like and deploys an engine to the body-worn cameras of nearby officers, quickly creating a team searching for the child," Paul Steinberg, Chief Technology Officer, Motorola Solutions explained in a press release.

Neurala and Motorola hope to demonstrate capability on a prototype device at some point in the (unspecified) future.

Motorola competitor Axon (formally Taser,) which also makes body cameras for cops, is also looking to integrate on-camera artificial intelligence into future products.