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Beauty Spot or Landscape Blot? Computer Trained to Judge Scenery

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Tilbury power station overlooking Thames mudflats.

In a new study, researchers trained a computer to distinguish scenic views from blots on the landscape.

Credit: David Levene/The Guardian

Researchers at the University of Warwick and the Alan Turing Institute in the U.K. have developed software that can differentiate scenic views from blots on the landscape, a breakthrough they say could help with decisions over what land to protect, and how to better design new towns and cities.

The researchers trained the program on more than 200,000 photographs of places in Great Britain that had been rated for beauty on the Scenic-or-not website. The software then linked the ratings to features in the images and developed a list of what makes one scene beautiful compared to others.

The researchers found the program identified lakes, valleys, coastlines, and mountains as beautiful, while derelict industrial sites, motorway intersections, and construction zones all scored the lowest.

"We want to understand what beautiful places are composed of because there is a connection between beautiful places and people's well-being," says Warwick researcher Chanuki Seresinhe.

From The Guardian
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