W02V - Prof. Yasamin Mostofi Sensors Lab

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W02V - Prof. Yasamin Mostofi Sensors Lab

Post by glegrady » Thu Oct 16, 2014 3:41 pm

Yasamin Mostofi, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UCSB: http://www.ece.ucsb.edu/~ymostofi/

For the past few years, she and her team have been busy enabling robots to see objects and humans behind thick walls through the use of radio frequency signals.
http://www.news.ucsb.edu/2014/014348/no ... jwUKg.dpuf
George Legrady

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Re: W02V - Prof. Yasamin Mostofi Sensors Lab

Post by saharss2533 » Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:05 am

The Agency of Scientists/Engineers:

After visiting Yasamin Mostofi’s lab, I started thinking more about the agency of scientists and engineers over the development of technologies that if become successful, their application can have extreme impacts on the society. As Yasamin mentioned, as the long-tem objective of their research, the project can be used in important cases such as rescuing people in catastrophes like earthquake or the collapse of a tunnel, or even in monitoring people or situations in need of constant attention. However, as powerful as it can be in its constructive application, it can be a very dangerous tool in violating human privacy. In other words, if a technology like this is used by the military and government, or somehow becomes available in the industry and easily accessible by the public, it will be a catastrophe of a kind: the concept of wall and home would completely lose its meaning.

If something like that happens, then who would be in charge? True, there are already similar technologies like this out there, and true, the scientists need to focus on the development of their technology and focus on the positive applications of it, in order to be able to work. However, we still have to ask this question that if this powerful technology is used as a means of control and surveillance by the governments, will anybody feel responsible for creating a technology that makes possible the violation of human rights to this extent? Being engaged in the development of such a project, to what degree can we control how these technologies are being used or abused in the future, and how much of it, will we consider as our responsibility? If it is not ours, then whose is it? And what can we do as scientists/engineers to make sure these projects are put into good use and won’t end up violating our own privacy?
Last edited by saharss2533 on Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: W02V - Prof. Yasamin Mostofi Sensors Lab

Post by saharss2533 » Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:17 am

Here are a few more thoughts:

How about an art project?
I was also wondering how much would an artist be able to contribute to the developing project like this? For instance, if an artist or a group of artists are invited to collaborate with the research lab like this, how useful this collaboration can be? In other words, what types of art project can contribute to the development of scientific/engineering research projects like this that makes the engineers not feel that the lab’s time has been wasted, but instead helps in broadening the scope of possibilities in the process of research?

Funding Resource and Intellectual Property:
One last thing that I was wondering about was the role of our funding agency in the direction that our research will take. For example, if a project like this is funded by an organization, such as NSF, and not directly the military, can we assume that it will be used in the future less towards war-related issues and as surveillance technology? Or are these organizations at the end so connected to each other, that if a very compelling project emerges out of any of them, they will all get their hands on it? Do we have as scientists any control over the result of what we are doing, since we would need funding for our project development, and at the end everything we do will become an intellectual property of either a big corporation, or a government-related funding agency or an academic institution? After all, what is our right over the result of our years of research? Is there a way out?

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Re: W02V - Prof. Yasamin Mostofi Sensors Lab

Post by saharss2533 » Thu Oct 23, 2014 10:16 am

Pictures from the visit to Prof. Yasamin Mostofi Sensors Lab

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Re: W02V - Prof. Yasamin Mostofi Sensors Lab

Post by saharss2533 » Thu Oct 23, 2014 10:17 am

More pictures from the lab visit

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Re: W02V - Prof. Yasamin Mostofi Sensors Lab

Post by rluo » Sun Oct 26, 2014 3:13 pm

Seeing Through Walls with Only WiFi is trying to expand human’s vision, make invisible visible. However, will it be terrified if a person behind a wall can know everything in the room with just opening an app? With no doubts, computer vision is way powerful than human vision already, and scientists are still trying very hard to push the boundary of computer vision. Ultimately, will the computer vision match perfectly with human vision? It reminds me Black Mirror, a British TV series. In Season One Episode Three, director created a world that everyone is embedded a device which can record and playback every second being seen by human’s eyes. In this scenario, memory is an extinct concept as people will never forget anything since they were born. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not, but the director held a negative perspective to this technology. Thus, this brings another question that who should be responsible for the development of technology? Obviously, scientists should not take this responsibility as their job is pushing the boundary of human knowledge. What about artists? This will be a remaining question for me in the rest of this quarter.

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Re: W02V - Prof. Yasamin Mostofi Sensors Lab

Post by kurt » Tue Oct 28, 2014 8:51 pm

Professor Mostofi's research is deeply curious to the artist in that it aims to shatter an obvious truth to our reality: that we can not see through solid objects. There are certainly some mythical undertones, if only from those instilled on us from comic books: "x-ray" vision is a useful super power for any hero. When granted solely to an arbiter for good, we don't think much about the social and political ramifications of such a technology. But when democratized, some alarm bells go off, we put up our defenses, and our imaginations start to whirl.

Of course it's easy to think of all the nefarious reasons why someone might want to know where exactly you're sitting on the couch, but the possibility for positive impact can not be ignored. As she suggested search and rescue or aiding the elderly, but countless more can be imagined- knowing exactly where staff and patients are in a hospital and architecture which responds to and anticipates our behavior come to mind. Thus, technology with such broad application will always find "good" and "evil" applications, no matter who invents it or where it is developed. What then can the artist do to leverage this new reality unfolding before us, to work towards, as Xenakis put it, "a truth that is immediate, rare, enormous, and perfect," when the validity of our truths is being called to question?

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Re: W02V - Prof. Yasamin Mostofi Sensors Lab

Post by fabian » Sun Dec 14, 2014 11:42 am

What I found particularly interesting about Prof. Mostofi's lab is the degree to which her research appears to be "undirected" in the sense of exploring various directions at once, while, of course, it is also driven by grant money and input from the scientific community.

Also, I found the "rawness" of her results fascinating. The question when data actually becomes results could be rewarding to explore, as it is also a huge concern in the artistic process: When is a work complete, or even, when is a work a work and not a draft, a sketch, or simply a collection of material? Is it an intrinsic property to the symbolic system that is formed from matter by the artist or is it an external decision by the artist, is the work being "declared"? While in the sciences, it is evident that there are some mutually agreed on standards - although applied implicitly, as the decision has to be made before the material comes into contact with the scientific community in the form of a publication - in the artistic process the work seemingly could emerge at any point. However, is there a similar process of implicit decision making for the artistic process, driven by properties like "collectability" or "salability"?

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Re: W02V - Prof. Yasamin Mostofi Sensors Lab

Post by akshay » Sun Dec 14, 2014 2:07 pm

A very interesting tidbit of information that she revealed about her own journey was how she got to her present research area to begin with. She mentioned that she had a background in robotics, and then came to study communications in Stanford. In an attempt to combine her background knowledge she was working on building a communication framework for synchronizing the movements of multiple robots. During this, the wall came as an obstacle to continue her research. She landed at her present research problem since communication and localization through a wall is in itself a formidable problem.

It is interesting that there are several factors that affected her arrival at this research problem.
One is her educational background being relatively diverse (communications and robotics).
Second, a determined attempt at combining her interests
Third, the pure luck of an encounter with a challenging research problem within this.

In this case, the spread of influencing factors between training, personal determination and luck shows that there is more to arriving at a worthwhile research problem than a mere educational background in that field.

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Re: W02V - Prof. Yasamin Mostofi Sensors Lab

Post by intae » Mon Dec 15, 2014 4:20 am

I think I forgot to post for the visiting.
Prof. Mostofi's image capturing through wifi research drew my attention, because the purpose of her research was aimed to support rescue missions where natural disaster occurred, such as earthquake, and building destruction. Last year, there was the ship sink in Korea, almost 300 high school students lost their lives. Most of them were trapped in the cabins following the order from the captain (he was rescued at first). It was almost impossible to find them through the muddy water and fast current.
The research is still in a stage of ground communication between the two vehicles, also, the image wasn't that clear to recognize the human shape or some object's. It seems that there are still a lot of questions related to this matter, such as communication in a water, and send signal through steel plate. However, if the research team develops their idea further, I believe this technic will save a lot of people in danger.

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