Imagine an expedition with a field staff of 10,000. How about 100,000? It's possible. Supported by National Geographic Digital Media, "Field Expedition: Mongolia — Valley of the Khans Project" is an innovative, noninvasive archaeological survey of Mongolia’s sacred lands that allows web users around the world to actively participate in an ongoing, real-time scientific exploration. Valley of the Khans is the ultimate citizen science project. Because of the extensive size of the region of Mongolia being explored, detailed analysis of the terrain is beyond the capability that any single individual can handle. By providing real-time data, satellite imagery, maps and other information from the field directly to web users at home, the Valley of the Khans Project harnesses the analytic power of the collective public to crowdsource the identification of on-the-ground anomalies — anomalies that could indicate sites of cultural heritage. Once candidate locations are pinpointed they will be ground-truthed in real time by the expedition team concurrently working in the field. Field Expedition: Mongolia also serves a greater technology purpose as well. In addition to guiding potential discoveries and supplementing the limitations of computer-based computational search alone, the data generated by sourcing a massive human demographic could be used to develop human computation concepts that will train computer-vision algorithms and facilitate active machine learning. This is especially relevant in the case of visual analytics where human intuition remains beyond the scope of existing computer object recognition algorithms.
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