The ‘Why” Behind Romy

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March 11, 2024

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Anastassia Lauterbach

illustration photo of Romy from the Romy and Roby book series.

Yes, I have cats, I love cats, and I write about cats. Roby’s best friend in “Romy and Roby and the Secrets of Sleep” is a cat. There is a real Romy behind the book. There is also a long-lasting connection between kitten and the algorithms.

In 2012, Google made a breakthrough: It trained its AI to recognize cats in YouTube videos. Google’s neural network taught itself to detect the shapes of cats and humans with more than 70% accuracy, a 70% improvement over any other machine learning at the time.

Cats, dogs, and human pictures have been used by Facebook to train its AI. Around 2018, their database was 10 times bigger than the one used by Google. Today, the applications developed based on this past data range from describing images to the visually impaired to identifying illegal or unsafe content.

Images of cats weren’t just an inspiration for building computer vision AIs. Since the November 2016 presidential election in the US, an automated script could be added as a Google Chrome extension to automatically detect images of President Donald Trump on the web and swap them with cats’ pictures. “Make America Kitten Again” might have sounded like a political proclamation. It demonstrated the universal preferences of web users – “Don’t Worry, See Kitty.”

Watching cats’ videos contributed to my mental well-being while working on my first publication about AI, “The Artificial Intelligence Imperative.” I acted strongly in line with scientific evidence. In 2015, a study published in Computers in Human Behavior indicated that viewing a video of an adorable feline boosted the viewer’s positive emotions, giving them an energy bump and decreasing negative feelings. In my case, I was calming myself while pondering over the Cats’ Misbehavior Baseline. My two British Short Hair weren’t as terrible as I thought they might have been, taking the number of broken glasses, plants, and windows on the internet.

There is one thing I don’t know. What is the environmental impact of cats on the web? A study into the environmental impact of social media has revealed that a single Instagram post from Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo to his 240 million followers consumes as much energy as ten United Kingdom households. Ronaldo remains the most followed figure on social media, with around 35 million more followers than second-placed Ariana Grande. I think the cat factor on the web would dwarf both of them. Do we care to find out?

In 2019, scientists from the University of Massachusetts conducted a study to determine how much energy is used to train certain popular large AI models. According to the results, training can produce about 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of around 300 round-trip flights between New York and San Francisco – nearly 5 times the lifetime emissions of the average car. Would the new green deal imply the removal of all the cats from the internet?

romy and roby and the secrets of sleep book cover

Book 1

Romy & Roby And the Secrets Of Sleep.


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