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Google launches hieroglyphics translator that uses AI to to decipher Ancient Egyptian script

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google launches hieroglyphics translator that uses ai to to decipher ancient egyptian script

Google has launched a hieroglyphics translator that uses AI to decipher images of Ancient Egyptian script.

The new tool, dubbed ‘Fabricius’, uses machine learning to give experts a fast way to decode hieroglyphics by uploading their files.

But the tool is available to non-experts as a fun and interactive way to learn about and write in the ancient language.

Anyone can type in messages and be provided with an instant hieroglyphic equivalent to share on social media.

Users can also draw their own best attempt at an ancient hieroglyphic and see if Google’s machine learning technology can identify it from its database of hieroglyphs.

The tool aims to ‘help bring people closer to ancient Egyptian heritage and culture’ and highlight the importance of the preserving hieroglyphics as a language.  

Google says that the easiest way to understand hieroglyphics is to ‘imagine that they are the ancient Egyptian equivalent of emojis’.

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The new tool, dubbed ‘Fabricius’, uses machine learning to give experts a fast way to decode hieroglyphics by uploading their files

The new tool, dubbed ‘Fabricius’, uses machine learning to give experts a fast way to decode hieroglyphics by uploading their files

The new tool, dubbed ‘Fabricius’, uses machine learning to give experts a fast way to decode hieroglyphics by uploading their files

Fabricius is the first digital tool that uses machine learning to give experts a fast way to decode hieroglyphics and everyone else an easy way to learn about and write the ancient language

Fabricius is the first digital tool that uses machine learning to give experts a fast way to decode hieroglyphics and everyone else an easy way to learn about and write the ancient language

Fabricius is the first digital tool that uses machine learning to give experts a fast way to decode hieroglyphics and everyone else an easy way to learn about and write the ancient language

WHAT ARE HIEROGLYPHICS?

Hieroglyphics is a writing system that employs characters in the form of pictures. 

Those individual signs, called hieroglyphs, may be read either as pictures, as symbols for pictures, or as symbols for sounds.

 The word hieroglyph literally means ‘sacred carvings’. 

Hieroglyphics are an original form of writing out of which all other forms have evolved. 

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‘So far, experts had to dig manually through books upon books to translate and decipher the ancient language – a process that has remained virtually unchanged for over a century,’ said Chance Coughenour, program manager at Google Arts & Culture in a blog post

‘Fabricius includes the first digital tool – that is also being released as open source to support further developments in the study of ancient languages – that decodes Egyptian hieroglyphs built on machine learning.’

In the past, a team of data scientists and a lot of code would have been required to make sense of a hieroglyphic, Coughenour said.

But Fabricius uses Google Cloud’s AutoML technology, AutoML Vision, to allow developers to easily train a machine to recognise all kinds of objects. 

The online tool for mobile and desktop is divided into three sections – called ‘Learn’, ‘Play’ and ‘Work’.

Users can ‘Learn’ about the language of ancient Egypt by following a short educational introduction in six steps that become increasingly difficult.

The first step lets the user trace hieroglyphics with their cursor as accurately as possible for the machine learning to identify.

The new Google Arts & Culture tool Fabricius lets anyone interactively discover the hieroglyphic language by means of three dedicated gateways - Learn, Play and Work

The new Google Arts & Culture tool Fabricius lets anyone interactively discover the hieroglyphic language by means of three dedicated gateways - Learn, Play and Work

The new Google Arts & Culture tool Fabricius lets anyone interactively discover the hieroglyphic language by means of three dedicated gateways – Learn, Play and Work

Learn takes the user through six interactive steps to introduce you to Egyptian hieroglyphs. This first step allows users to trace a hieroglyph well enough for the machine learning to identify

Learn takes the user through six interactive steps to introduce you to Egyptian hieroglyphs. This first step allows users to trace a hieroglyph well enough for the machine learning to identify

Learn takes the user through six interactive steps to introduce you to Egyptian hieroglyphs. This first step allows users to trace a hieroglyph well enough for the machine learning to identify 

Each drawing is instantly compared to more than 800 different hieroglyphic symbols using Google’s machine learning platform.

Learn’s other interactive tasks include having to draw hieroglyphics from memory and restore badly damaged hieroglyphics well enough for the machine learning to be able to identify them. 

Secondly, ‘Play’ allows users to translate their own words and messages into hieroglyphics ready to be shared with your friends and family. 

Play provides an easy way to write messages in Egyptian hieroglyphics to share with friends

Play provides an easy way to write messages in Egyptian hieroglyphics to share with friends

Play provides an easy way to write messages in Egyptian hieroglyphics to share with friends

Google says the rough translations provided by 'Play' are not academically correct but just for fun

Google says the rough translations provided by 'Play' are not academically correct but just for fun

Google says the rough translations provided by ‘Play’ are not academically correct but just for fun

Users can type anything in a text box – including emojis – and Google returns a set of hieroglyphics that provide the most accurate translation of that message.

They can then share the hieroglyphic translation via email and through social media channels such as Twitter and WhatsApp.

Google says the rough translations provided by ‘Play’ are not academically correct but just for fun. 

Lastly, ‘Work’ for academics is a desktop-only ‘workbench’ that assists researchers with the translation of hieroglyphics.

The of tools uses Cloud ML – the tech giant’s cloud platform that run machine learning training jobs and predictions – to support experts in their work of deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs. 

Work is a desktop-only set of tools using Cloud ML to support experts in their workflow of deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs

Work is a desktop-only set of tools using Cloud ML to support experts in their workflow of deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs

Work is a desktop-only set of tools using Cloud ML to support experts in their workflow of deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs

Google says that Work requires an in-depth understanding of the translation process for hieroglyphs.

Mobile web browsers do not support ‘Work’, because they don’t meet the required dimensions. 

Fabricius, available on a dedicated webpage, is also being released as open source to support further developments in the study of ancient languages. 

Available in English and Arabic, Fabricius is named after the father of epigraphy, the study of ancient inscriptions.

Google created the tool in collaboration with the Australian Center for Egyptology at Macquarie University in Australia, production company Psycle Interactive and video game firm Ubisoft, as well as Egyptologists globally.

Google Cloud's AutoML technology, AutoML Vision, was used to create a machine learning model that is able to make sense of what a hieroglyph is. In the past you would need a team of data scientists, a lot of code and 'plenty of time' to do so, Google said

Google Cloud's AutoML technology, AutoML Vision, was used to create a machine learning model that is able to make sense of what a hieroglyph is. In the past you would need a team of data scientists, a lot of code and 'plenty of time' to do so, Google said

Google Cloud’s AutoML technology, AutoML Vision, was used to create a machine learning model that is able to make sense of what a hieroglyph is. In the past you would need a team of data scientists, a lot of code and ‘plenty of time’ to do so, Google said

Fabricius coincides with the anniversary of the discovery of the Rosetta stone, in July 1799, which enabled experts to learn to read Egyptian hieroglyphs.

The stone contained fragments of passages written in three different scripts – Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian demotic. 

Because the inscriptions say the same thing in three different scripts and scholars could read Ancient Greek, the Rosetta Stone became a valuable key to deciphering hieroglyphs.

The black slab was discovered by French soldiers near the town of Rosetta, about 35 miles east of Alexandria in Egypt.

WHAT IS THE ROSETTA STONE?  

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9091550 0 image a 5 1548695236134

The Rosetta Stone is one of the most famous objects in the British Museum.

The Stone is a broken part of a bigger stone slab and has a message carved into it in three types of writing (called scripts).

It was an important clue that helped experts learn to read Egyptian hieroglyphs.

 The writing on the Stone is an official message, called a decree, about the king (Ptolomey V, r. 204–181 BC).

The Rosetta Stone was found broken and incomplete. It features 14 lines of hieroglyphic script: 

When it was discovered, nobody knew how to read ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. 

Because the inscriptions say the same thing in three different scripts, and scholars could still read Ancient Greek, the Rosetta Stone became a valuable key to deciphering the hieroglyphs.

Source: British Museum

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Meghan and Harry will earn fees of ‘only’ $250k to $400k for speeches

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meghan and harry will earn fees of only 250k to 400k for speeches

Meghan and Harry will earn fees of ‘only’  $250k to $400k for speeches because the level of control requested by the couple will put clients off, according to an events consultant.

The couple’s fee was originally estimated to be around $1million but this prediction has been shattered by an international agency which runs VIP corporate events in both the UK and US.         

In a leaked contract, the event creator warned that many organisations will ‘raise their eyebrows’ at the couple’s demands.

The requests are said to be similar to those adopted by all British Royals at public events – despite the Duke and Duchess stepping down as senior members to achieve more freedom. 

Meghan and Harry will earn fees of only $250k to $400k for speeches because the level of control requested by the couple will put clients off, according to an events consultant

Meghan and Harry will earn fees of only $250k to $400k for speeches because the level of control requested by the couple will put clients off, according to an events consultant 

‘Harry and Meghan coming on the speaker circuit is certainly as significant as the likes of President Obama or Arnold Schwarzenegger,’ read a virtual event request form by the Harry Walker Agency seen by The Sun.

It continued: ‘The pair are fascinating, uniquely experienced individuals, who have a wide reach, who would have been a huge draw to a live audience pre-COVID.

‘So back then figures between the 750k and $1m mark seemed steep, but possible. Realistically their earnings range is closer to $250k to $400k…

‘The contract paperwork appears to read that the speakers have full control of the client’s event. It certainly raises eyebrows and will put off many potential large corporations. 

‘Not many clients ever like inviting talent as star guests, who may be seen as running their event and telling them what to do.’

The requests state that the couple will need to give approval of each aspect of any corporate event (Meghan pictured previously during a reception at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand)

The event creator warned that many organisations will 'raise their eyebrows' at the couple's demands (Harry pictured at the OnSide Awards in November)

The requests state that the couple will need to give approval of each aspect of any corporate event with the events agency warning that many organisations will ‘raise their eyebrows’ at the couple’s demands

The requests state that the couple will need to give approval of each aspect of any corporate event, including of anyone who might introduce them or moderate discussions, as well as the ability to probe sponsors and corporations beforehand.

The form went on to say that the terms and conditions set out by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were uncommon for 99 per cent of speakers already on the circuit.    

MailOnline has contacted a representative for Meghan and Harry as well as the Harry Walker Agency for comment.

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As Covid infections double each week… what IS best for Britain, asks BEN SPENCER 

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as covid infections double each week what is best for britain asks ben spencer

It’s the debate dividing Britain. Covid infections are doubling each week and experts believe the death toll will soon start to climb. Should ministers act quickly to stop a second wave or hold off to prevent more damage to the economy? With no easy options, these are some of the possibilities they are considering.

DO NOTHING

Simply carry on through to Spring with the current level of restrictions.

Revellers enjoy drinks in Newcastle on the first day after strict coronavirus curfews were introduced

Revellers enjoy drinks in Newcastle on the first day after strict coronavirus curfews were introduced

PROS: The lockdown imposed in March successfully curbed infections, but had a devastating impact on businesses, education and the NHS. Boris Johnson is desperate to avoid a repeat. There is a strong argument that the need to act is not nearly as urgent as it was in the spring. We now know the virus has little impact on anyone other than the elderly, doctors are much better at treating it and they now have effective drugs. And although our testing system is not what it should be, capacity is 25 times bigger than it was in March. Death rates are currently tiny – with suicides, flu and pneumonia all taking far more lives than the dreaded coronavirus.

CONS: It is clear Covid is getting out of control in France, Spain and the US. Doing nothing could see Britain going down the same road – with a wave of deaths as rising infections feed through from the young into more at-risk groups.

CHANCE OF THIS HAPPENING: 1/5

LOCAL LOCKDOWNS

Localised restrictions, already imposed across swathes of the UK encompassing 13million people, could be extended when outbreaks flare.

PROS: Targeted, proportionate restrictions in virus hotspots slow the spread and spare the rest of the country. This was successfully carried out in Leicester over the summer, with rates quickly slashed.

CONS: Such specific measures rely on an effective test and trace programme – and at the moment the system is not up to scratch. Critics also point out that rates in many parts of the North West, which have been subject to restrictions for weeks, have actually continued to rise. And with local lockdown widened to the North East and Lancashire, there are now more than 13million people affected. With the lives of so many British citizens curtailed, this is arguably just a national lockdown imposed by stealth. Local action is also divisive – national unity will be badly hit if only half the country is allowed to celebrate a family Christmas.

CHANCE OF THIS HAPPENING: 4/5

SHIELDING

Most young people are barely affected by Covid. So a logical solution is to shield the elderly.

Most young people are barely affected by Covid. So a logical solution is to shield the elderly

Most young people are barely affected by Covid. So a logical solution is to shield the elderly

PROS: This could protect the most at-risk while allowing the rest of the population to keep the economy going. The Government reportedly already has tentative plans to assign each person over the age of 50 a ‘risk score’.

CONS: A crude version was used during the first lockdown, with 2.2million people with cancer, asthma and other conditions asked to stay indoors. That scheme was riddled with problems – many of those asked to shield were in fact not particularly susceptible. Any new scheme would have to be far more targeted. But it would rely heavily on age – by far the biggest risk factor for Covid. This will be resisted by many pensioners who see themselves as perfectly healthy. It is also impossible to effectively shield those who need it most – care home residents, who require contact with carers.

CHANCE OF THIS HAPPENING: 4/5

CURFEW

Curfews on the opening of bars and restaurants have already been used in many areas – and could be rolled out nationwide.

PROS: The increase in infection rates this summer was put down to young people gathering in pubs, homes and at illegal raves. Curfews, trialled in Bolton and other areas, aim to stop this by ordering restaurants and pubs to close at 10pm. This is arguably a proportionate response – asking pubs to close an hour or two early is better than forcing them to shut entirely.

CONS: It is clearly harmful to the hospitality industry and is widely seen as a chilling restriction of personal liberties. Curfews can only do so much. After all, most of the population are not out and about beyond 10pm.

CHANCE OF THIS HAPPENING: 4/5

CIRCUIT BREAK

This is the option being most carefully considered. Ministers hope a short lockdown – lasting as little as two weeks – would stop the pattern of infection and reinfection driving cases up.

PROS: If people do not meet and interact, the virus cannot pass between them, the chain of transmission is broken and infection rates will stop rising. If this is done quickly it could nip the problem in the bud before rates rise to dangerous levels. And if it is imposed over the October half term, it would have a limited impact on children’s education. Scientists hope such a measure would also give some breathing room to allow the testing programme to get back on track. And if infection rates drop far enough, it might even allow Christmas to take place after all.

CONS: Scientists worry that as soon as restrictions are lifted, cases would rise again. This raises the prospect of the country following an ‘on-off’ lockdown pattern until a vaccine becomes available. Two weeks might simply not be long enough – meaning restrictions might drag on and on and turn into a full lockdown.

CHANCE OF THIS HAPPENING: 4/5

NATIONAL LOCKDOWN

A return to spring-style nationwide measures which led to most people having to work from home, with schools, non-essential shops and workplaces shut.

A return to spring-style nationwide measures would see most people having to work from home, with venues such as pubs closed

A return to spring-style nationwide measures would see most people having to work from home, with venues such as pubs closed

PROS: If Covid infections get out of control, and if they coincide with a bad winter flu season, the death toll could be monumental. Mr Johnson might be left with little choice but to order another lockdown. There are also ways to soften the blow – primarily keeping schools open. Many scientists now believe closing schools was unnecessary last time round. Children are not in danger from the virus yet untold harm was done to their education and mental health by keeping them at home. It also made it hard for parents to work.

CONS: This is the ‘nuclear’ option the Prime Minister does not want to take, an extreme that even the gloomiest of scientists do not currently advocate. With ‘crisis fatigue’ setting in, he also might find it much harder to persuade people to follow the rules a second time round. And even a pared-back version of national restrictions would risk doing more harm than good. The economy is already holed below the water line – a return to lockdown could sink it completely.

CHANCE OF THIS HAPPENING: 2/5

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At last Afghan interpreters who helped British troops can step out of the shadows

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at last afghan interpreters who helped british troops can step out of the shadows

The chilling reality of life for Afghan interpreters who helped British troops was laid bare to me when one translator’s seven-year-old daughter was handed a letter outside the family home on the edge of Kabul.

She was told to give it to her father Waheed, who had worked with frontline British troops in Helmand province. The contents shocked Waheed, as they would any father.

Signed by the Taliban, it told Waheed and his family – his wife, two daughters and a son – they would be killed.

‘Don’t think we will ever forgive you,’ the handwritten letter said. ‘You have helped the infidels and as a result we have lost mujahideen fighters. 

‘We swear we will hunt you down and kill all the interpreters and their families and feed their bodies to the dogs.’

Yesterday came the welcome, long-overdue news that the Home and Defence Secretaries had recognised that the fears of ex-translators are real and the UK has a duty to repay their sacrifices by providing sanctuary

Yesterday came the welcome, long-overdue news that the Home and Defence Secretaries had recognised that the fears of ex-translators are real and the UK has a duty to repay their sacrifices by providing sanctuary

Waheed, a dark-haired, squat man of 33, hugged his wife as he described how he believed he had been betrayed by the British, who he asked for help but was merely told to change telephone number and move home.

‘We are being left by a country we believed was our friend to find our fate at the hands of an enemy they could not defeat,’ he said. 

‘We were told the British would look after us but they were hollow words. I asked for help and there was none. We will be hunted and killed for our service to the British. Why will they not help us?’

Seven days later, I learnt of the murder of former translator Parwiz Khan, 22, who had left the front line to return to the family farm after death threats.

His brother Sam, 28, who had also been a translator for UK forces, told me: ‘I escaped because I was not at home but my small brother went to the door. 

‘They shot him twice in the right hand and then fired four to six bullets into his chest from very close. 

‘They killed him in front of the family in revenge because he had worked for the British.’

That was in August 2015, days after the Daily Mail had launched the Betrayal of the Brave campaign to highlight the plight of men who had risked their lives beside British troops to rid their homeland of the Taliban.

Waheed and Parwiz came to mind yesterday with the welcome, long-overdue news that the Home and Defence Secretaries had recognised that the fears of ex-translators are real and the UK has a duty to repay their sacrifices by providing sanctuary. 

For many of those who speak of ‘living in the shadows’ and whose harrowing stories the Mail has told, it is wonderful news.

Telling the translators of the change brought an outpouring of emotions. Bitter men who have spoken of anger and despair now shed tears of joy. 

There was also praise for the Government with the thought that as many as 100 would be safe, as well as their loved ones. 

Several spoke of how their daughters would go to school regularly for the first time. 

One wife told her husband: ‘Now I will not worry each time you go out that you will not come home.’

It is a good start but some of those who believe they are most at risk are devastated and angry they are unlikely to qualify this time. 

For many of those who speak of 'living in the shadows' and whose harrowing stories the Mail has told, it is wonderful news. Telling the translators of the change brought an outpouring of emotions. Pictured: A British platoon meet local people in Helmand Province, Southern Afghanistan, June 2007

For many of those who speak of ‘living in the shadows’ and whose harrowing stories the Mail has told, it is wonderful news. Telling the translators of the change brought an outpouring of emotions. Pictured: A British platoon meet local people in Helmand Province, Southern Afghanistan, June 2007

One who escaped an ambush two years ago is still working with UK forces after 17 years.

The new criteria of having worked on the front lines for 18 months and resigned for any reason – most were because of death threats, family pressure or injury – is not open to many who believe their lives are at risk but did not serve on the front lines. 

They have a genuine grievance.

Why do those based in Kabul who have worked more than a decade, received death threats and been attacked not qualify when, they argue, Britain has provided sanctuary to camp guards and mechanics who rarely ventured out of bases?

To a confident, resurgent Taliban, emboldened by peace talks and the release of thousands of prisoners jailed with the pivotal help of translators, it doesn’t matter where they were based, if they served six months or six years, resigned or were terminated – they are legitimate targets and traitors of Islam.

Last night, Waheed told me: ‘This change is the first good news but I hope all those who risked everything so the British mission could work are not forgotten.’ 

I echo those sentiments and hope that thanks to Priti Patel and Ben Wallace – and the dedication of many behind the scenes – it is a new beginning to see justice done for all those to whom we owe a huge debt.

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