The company Facebook with the help of a proprietary system AI made an accurate map of the location of the inhabitants of the Earth with an accuracy of 5 meters. The map of human clusters is needed by Facebook to more effectively provide its services. It will also help other companies plan the development of networks, including access to the Internet. For example, in areas with a large concentration of people, WiFi hotspots are best suited, and with low concentration – cellular communication.
In the future, Facebook itself plans to launch an Internet access system via satellites and high-altitude drones, so the company needs to know how the density of people on the planet is distributed.
For the first time Facebook representatives told about this AI project in February 2016 . At that time, the map was ready for 20 countries, and now their number has increased to 23, said a company employee in the comments for CNBC .
The program compiled a map, combining data from state censuses of the population in different countries with satellite images of high resolution. AI has learned to automatically recognize in photographs the buildings erected by a man and “impose” people on residential buildings. Man built up buildings less than 1% of the land area. It was not easy to train a neural network on such an unbalanced data set, but the work was successful, so now the AI successfully copes with the task.
To compile the maps of the first 20 countries, 350 terabytes of photos were taken from an area of 21.6 million km². Neural networks of the AI system were launched simultaneously on thousands of servers. They scanned 14.6 billion satellite images – and found all human buildings.
For its future project of access to the Internet through satellites and drones, Facebook now invites engineers for aerospace engineering to work . Jobs are open, so that Russian specialists can also find use for their forces.
Projects to launch a massive grouping of their satellites are carried by many commercial companies. Such plans became real due to a drastic reduction in the cost of launching satellites into orbit, and further prices promise to continue falling. It can be expected that in the coming years the number of satellites in orbit will increase manyfold. Now there are 576 US satellites, including 286 commercial ones.