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Citizen science projects have a surprising new partner -- the computer

For more than a decade, citizen science projects have helped researchers use the power of thousands of volunteers who help sort through datasets that are too large for a small research team. Previously, this data generally couldn't be processed by computers because the work required skills that only humans could accomplish. Now, computer machine learning techniques that teach the computer specific image recognition skills can be used in crowdsourcing projects to deal with massively increasing amounts of data -- making computers a surprising new partner in citizen science projects. In this study, data scientists and citizen science experts partnered with ecologists who often study wildlife populations by deploying camera traps. The researchers used machine learning techniques that teach computers how to classify the images by showing the computer datasets of images already classified by humans.

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