別打蜜蜂 牠認得你
2010/03/11
Warning: If You Swat, Bees Can Remember Your Face

【By SINDYA N. BHANOO/夏嘉玲譯】

A honeybee brain has a million neurons, compared with the 100 billion in a human brain. But, researchers report, bees can recognize faces, and they even do it the same way we do.

蜜蜂腦部有100萬個神經元,人腦則有上千億個。但研究報告指出,蜜蜂會認臉,認臉的方式甚至和人類一樣。

Bees and humans both use a technique called configural processing, piecing together the components of a face — eyes, ears, nose and mouth — to form a recognizable pattern, a team of researchers report in a recent issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology.

一組研究人員在最近某期《實驗生物學期刊》上發表報告指出,蜜蜂和人類都利用稱為「形廓處理」的技術,把眼耳鼻口等五官拼湊起來,作為辨識的依據。

“It’s a kind of gluing,’’ said Martin Giurfa, a professor of neural biology at the University de Toulouse, France, and one of the study’s authors.

法國土魯斯大學神經生物學教授、論文作者之一馬丁‧裘赫法說:「有點像(把五官)用膠黏起來一樣。」

It is the same ability, Dr. Giurfa said, that helps humans realize that a Chinese pagoda and a Swiss chalet are both abodes, based on their components.

裘赫法博士說,這和幫助人類根據建築要素而知道中式高塔和瑞士尖頂農舍都能住人的能力是同一種。

“We know two vertical lines, with a hutlike top,’’ he said. ’’It’s a house.’’ 

他說:「我們知道兩條垂直線,還有個屋頂,就是房子。」

In their research, Dr. Giurfa and his colleagues created a display of hand-drawn images, some faces and some not.

裘赫法博士和同僚在研究中展出多幅手繪圖,有些畫的是臉,有些不是。

The faces had bowls of sugar water in front of them, while the nonfaces were placed behind bowls containing plain water. After a few failed trips to the bowls without sugar water, the bees kept returning to the sugar-filled bowls in front of the faces, the scientists found.

這些臉前面擺了裝著糖水的碗,不是臉的圖前面放著裝清水的碗。科學家發現,蜜蜂幾次錯飛到沒裝糖水的碗後,就一直飛回臉圖前方的糖水碗。

The images and the bowls were cleaned after every visit, to ensure that the bees were using visual cues to find the sugar and not leaving scent marks.

這些圖和碗在每次蜜蜂飛走後都被清走,以確保蜜蜂是憑視覺線索找到糖水,且未留下氣味記號。

The researchers found that bees could also distinguish a face that provided sugar water from one that did not.

研究人員發現,蜜蜂也能區分有糖水的臉和沒有糖水的臉。

After several hours’ training, the bees picked the right faces about 75 percent of the time, said Adrian Dyer, another author of the study and a vision scientist at Monash University in Australia.

澳洲蒙納許大學視覺科學家,同為論文作者的艾德里安‧戴爾說,經過幾小時訓練,蜜蜂約有75%的時候選的是對的臉。

The researchers said that while they were biologists and not computer scientists, they hoped their work could be more widely used, including by face recognition experts.

研究人員說,雖然他們是生物學家而非電腦科學家,他們希望自己的研究成果能擴大使用,包括被臉部辨識專家所用。

“If somebody else finds it interesting and it improves airport security, that’s great,’’ Dr. Dyer said. “The potential mechanisms can be made available to the wider facial recognition community.’’ 

戴爾博士說:「如果其他人覺得有意思,而且我們的研究結果改善了機場安全,那就太棒了。」「這項潛在機制可用於更廣的臉部辨識社群。」

Dr. Giurfa said that the benefit of studying a creature as simple as the bee was in knowing that it did not take a complex neural network to distinguish objects. This could offer hope to technologists, he said.

裘赫法博士說,研究如蜜蜂般簡單生物的好處,是知道區分物體不必用到複雜的神經網路。他說,這可能為技術人員帶來希望。

But while the research on bees is interesting, it does not help with the most difficult problem technologists are having, said David Forsyth, a computer science professor at the University of Illinois, whose research focuses on computer vision. 

但伊利諾大學電腦科學教授大衛‧佛塞斯說,雖然這項蜜蜂研究很有趣,卻無助解決技術人員正面臨的最棘手問題。佛塞斯專研電腦視覺。

That challenging problem is to build systems that can recognize the same people over a period of time, Dr. Forsyth said, after their hair has grown, or when they have sunglasses on, or after they have aged. These are all tasks that humans can usually perform but that computers struggle to replicate. 

佛塞斯博士說,事情難在,我們建立的系統必須能在一段時間後,在人頭髮變長,或戴著墨鏡,或上了年紀後,還能辨認同一個人。這些是人類通常做得來,但電腦很難如法炮製的事。

“I highly doubt that bees can tell the difference,’’ Dr. Forsyth said, adding, “If bees did that, I’d fall off my chair.’’  

佛塞斯博士說:「我很懷疑蜜蜂分得出箇中差異,」,他緊接著說:「如果蜜蜂有此能耐,我會驚訝到從椅子上摔下來。」

 

【2010-03-09/聯合報/G9版

 

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