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Machine learning has now been used to identify important pests that can ravage vegetable crops, according to work published in the International Journal of Wireless and Mobile Computing.

Changzhen Zhang of Kaili University in Guizhou, Yaowen Ye, Deqin Xiao, Long Qi, and Jianjun Yin of the South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou, China point out that effective pest control requires knowledge of the species affecting the plants and the level of infestation. The team has used a so-called "bag-of-features" model to develop an automatic pest monitoring system has been. They explain that their approach combines remote information processing technology and machine vision technology.

The proposed system can be implemented in a vegetable crop field to monitor four major pests: Phyllotreta striolata (the Striped Flea Beetle, a pest of brassicas), Frankliniella occidentalis (the invasive Western Flower Thrips, feeds on some 500 or more different species of vegetable, fruit, and flower), Bemisia tabaci (the Tobacco White Fly, which affects tomato and other related plants), and Plutella xylostella (the diamond-back moth, a pest of cruciform crops).

The team demonstrated an error rate of less than 10 percent when compared with detection and counting by people trained to spot the pests. Given that B. tabaci can reduce tomato crop yields by 60 percent so the detection of such species is critical to efficient and effective farming. The other species mentioned can all affect a wide variety of crops with devastating consequences when infestation is allowed to run rampant.

The team has demonstrated success in a controlled environment. The next step will be to test the system and improve its abilities in a more complex and realistic vegetable-growing environment.

Zhang, C., Ye, Y., Xiao, D., Qi, L. and Yin, J. (2022) 'Rapid detection and identification of major vegetable pests based on machine learning', Int. J. Wireless and Mobile Computing, Vol. 22, Nos. 3/4, pp.223–235.
DOI: 10.1504/IJWMC.2022.124813

Research published in the International Journal of Cloud Computing looks at how machine learning might allow us to analyse the nature and characteristics of social media updates and detect which of those updates are adding grist to the rumour mill rather than being factual.

Fake news has been with us ever since the first gossip passed on a rumour back in the day. But, with the advent of social media, it is now so much easier to spread fake news, disinformation, and propaganda to a vast global audience with little constraint. A rumour can make or break a reputation. These days, that might happen the world over through the amplifying echo chamber of social media.

Mohammed Al-Sarem, Muna Al-Harby, Faisal Saeed, and Essa Abdullah Hezzam of Taibah University in Medina, Saudi Arabia have surveyed the different text pre-processing approaches for approaching the vast quantities of data that pour from social media on a daily basis. How well these approaches work in the subsequent rumour detection analysis is critical to how well fake news can be spotted and stopped. The team has tested various approaches on a dataset of political news-related tweets from Saudi Arabia.

Pre-processing can look at the three most relevant characteristics of an update before the text analysis is carried out and silo the different updates accordingly: First, it can look at the use of question marks and exclamation marks and the word count. Secondly, it can look at whether an account is verified or has properties more often associated with a fake or bot account, such as tweet count, replies, retweets, etc. Thirdly, it can look at user-based features, such as the user name and the user's logo or profile picture.

The researchers found that pre-processing can improve analysis significantly when the output is fed to any of support vector machine (SVM), multinomial naïve Bayes (MNB), and K-nearest neighbour (KNN) classifiers. However, those classifiers do react differently depending on what combination of pre-processing techniques is used. For instance, removing stop words, and cleaning out coding tags, such as HTML, stemming, and tokenization.

Al-Sarem, M., Al-Harby, M., Saeed, F. and Hezzam, E.A. (2022) 'Machine learning classifiers with pre-processing techniques for rumour detection on social media: an empirical study', Int. J. Cloud Computing, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp.330–344.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCC.2022.124797

Traditionally, attendance and exam results have been the main way in which educators can show whether or not a student is struggling with the course. This is done retrospectively. With the advent of cloud-based learning technology and online courses, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, these metrics are not necessarily the best way to catch at-risk students so that they can be helped.

The converse of that is that this technology can be used to provide and analyse useful data about the students, which can itself highlight those that might be struggling more quickly than can conventional assessment. Moreover, it can do this in a much more timely manner than a retrospective look at attendance and infrequent exam results.

Owen P. Hall Jr. of the Graziadio Business School at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, USA, describes a machine-learning approach to detecting at-risk students in the International Journal of Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments. "At-risk" is a three-pronged definition alluding to whether a student is considering leaving a course, whether the institution is planning to end the student's place on the course, or whether they are in a probationary period because of problems they have faced or concerns their teachers have about their course work, attendance, and results.

Machine learning has been used to predict examination grades and even attendance in some educational settings for many years. It is also commonly used to group students for study classes and other activities. It has even been used to detect cheating and plagiarism. It is perhaps therefore not such a great leap to picture the use of machine learning in helping students in another way.

Hall suggests that the machine-learning approach can analyse all the data associated with a student, almost continuously, and determine early on whether a student is at-risk or on the verge of being in that position. At this point, teachers and tutors might intervene to help without delay. The lack of delay to the assistance they give will tend to lead to a better outcome for such students.

"Engaging faculty, educational researchers, and administration in the risk mitigation paradigm is essential for ensuring student success," writes Hall. Machine learning offers a novel tool to help with this process, improve student outcomes, and reduce dropout rates in an increasingly pressured educational system.

Hall Jr., O.P. (2022) 'Detecting students at risk using machine learning: applications to business education', Int. J. Social Media and Interactive Learning Environments, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp.267–289.
DOI: 10.1504/IJSMILE.2022.124699

Face-recognition technology is advancing apace and has applications in security and biometrics, marketing, education, criminal investigation, and many other areas, it can now not only recognise the person but can ascertain the expression on their face. Research in the International Journal of Biometrics tackles the limitations of face recognition software when the person's face is partly obscured, by a veil or protective face mask, for instance.

The researchers, based in Hungary, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and the USA report a facial recognition accuracy with their deep-learning approach that is 99.95% accurate for facial recognition even for a person wearing a niqab, which most of the face except the eyes. 99.9% accurate for gender recognition, and determination of age. It can recognise that a veiled person or person wearing a covid mask is or is not smiling, through analysis of the eyes, with 80.9% accuracy. Tests were carried out on an image database of 150 people, 41 male and 109 female subjects aged from 8 to 78 years old.

Ahmad B.A. Hassanat of Mutah University in Karak and Abeer Ahmad Albustanji of the Ministry of Environment in Amman, Jordan, Ahmad S. Tarawneh of Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary, Malek Alrashidi, Mansoor Alghamdi, and Ibrahim S. Alkhazi of the University of Tabuk, Hani Alharbi of the Islamic University of Madinah, Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Alanazi of Cranfield University, UK, and V.B. Surya Prasath of the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, used a deep convolutional neural network to develop their recognition system. The neural network has 4096 features in each layer of the recognition process.

The team points out that their proof of principle – known as DeepVeil – involved the use of an in-house image database, with face-on images of veiled persons taken at close range. The next step will be to work with a more diverse set of images recorded in a range of settings and the photos taken from different angles. That said, in the early days of conventional facial recognition systems, a clear face-on image was needed to verify a person's identity and that is no longer the case as the algorithms and software have evolved. So, the same will, with the right approach and further development, likely become true for DeepVeil.

Hassanat, A.B.A., Albustanji, A.A., Tarawneh, A.S., Alrashidi, M., Alharbi, H., Alanazi, M., Alghamdi, M., Alkhazi, I.S. and Prasath, V.B.S. (2022) 'DeepVeil: deep learning for identification of face, gender, expression recognition under veiled conditions', Int. J. Biometrics, Vol. 14, Nos. 3/4, pp.453–480.
DOI: 10.1504/IJBM.2022.124683

Writing in the International Journal of Intellectual Property Management, a digital technology leader at telecommunications conglomerate Verizon discusses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on digital transformation and digital fraud in the US economy.

Shashidhar Hiremath reiterates just how much of an impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the US economy, broadly speaking. Of course, a similar picture is seen across the globe. Tourism, air travel, the housing market, information technology, hospitality, and food industries have perhaps been detrimentally affected the most. However, there have also been some upturns in the fortunes of those companies facilitating working and learning from home and people sharing activities remotely.

An unwanted area of growth during the pandemic was, of course, cybercrime, says Hiremath. The incidence of internet theft, phishing scams, and financial fraud all increased during the pandemic. This was presumably partly due to it being a time when many people were at their most vulnerable and susceptible. Moreover, infrastructure and IT support that would provide checks and assurances were not necessarily in place in the home, or remote-working, environment for countless computer users in the workforce.

Criminals will always find a way to exploit vulnerabilities and even create new ones. The nature of social change that was wrought by the emergence of a lethal coronavirus at the end of 2019 has given us what is euphemistically known as the "new normal". Unfortunately, the new normal has given criminals new opportunities. It is time for a detailed study of how the world has changed in this realm, suggests Hiremath. In the new normal, we may well need new laws and policies to help protect people from the ever-changing landscape of cybercrime and digital fraud, internet theft, and more.

Shashidhar (2022) 'Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the digital transformation and digital frauds in the US economy', Int. J. Intellectual Property Management, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.429–448.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIPM.2022.124648

The number of people using mobile wallets, financial management software, apps, on their smart phone that allow them to make payments, is increasing. Work in the International Journal of Intellectual Property Management looks at the adoption of mobile wallets across India. Uptake there and in other developing nations is significant but there are many challenges that face putative users and those offering the services that are not so apparent in the developed world.

Ravi Kumar Gupta of the Department of Humanities and Management Science at the Madan Mohan Malaviya University of Technology in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, has collected data from 500 respondents in the Gorakhpur District of Uttar Pradesh to learn more about user and potential user perception of mobile wallets. He used regression, factor analysis and structural equation modelling to process the data.

There are an estimated 500 million smart phone users in India and that number is rising every day. A fraction of those are using a mobile wallet, but that fraction will likely only increase over time. The growth of the middle-income demographic across India is the underlying driver for this increase in technology adoption.

Gupta points out that while people of all ages are using smart phones, much of the growth in mobile wallet use among the younger demographic. That said, he has found from the survey of 500 people that risks associated with security and privacy are serious concerns that dissuade some people from using a mobile wallet. Conversely, ease of use and social influence both correlate positively with adoption of this technology.

Gupta, R.K. (2022) 'Adoption of mobile wallet services: an empirical analysis', Int. J. Intellectual Property Management, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.341–353.
DOI: 10.1504/IJIPM.2022.124634

Anyone familiar with the landscape of the Mediterranean coast would recognise the terraces and stone walls that are an inherent part of farming there and help people intercalate crops between the garigues. The terraces and stone walls are themselves vital to the conservation of biodiversity in these landscapes as well as in farming, cultural heritage and tourism, and have been a key part of the landscape, particularly of the area for centuries if not millennia.

A new study aimed at improving our understanding of the microclimates, the micrometeorology created by this kind of landscape is discussed in the International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology.

Alexandra Solomou, Nikolaos Proutsos, George Karetsos, Konstantinia Tsagari, and Nikolaos Chatzipavlis of the Institute of Mediterranean Forest Ecosystems part of the Hellenic Agricultural Organisation 'Demeter' (ELGO DIMITRA) in Athens, Greece, have reviewed the research literature on this aspect of the Greek countryside in detail and conclude that it is critical that these micro-landscapes be preserved.

The team points out that Greece is a world biodiversity "hotspot", and its abundance of fauna and flora and the high number of diverse species of fungi as well as its disparate ecosystems and landscapes make it rightly so. It also harbours many species endemic to the region and found nowhere else on the planet. The researchers also explain that the country has a complex terrain, ranging from sea level to quite high mountainous altitudes. It has many islands and a long coastline relative to the total area of the mainland. It thus has a variety of microclimates, which have sustained the rich biodiversity reported for the region. Of course, during recent decades Greece has become more arid as farming practices, water, use, and climate change have their impact.

Based on their review, the team lists the most important benefits of terraces and stone walls as follows:

First, they are an important defence against soil erosion caused by wind and rain and offer protection from extreme events, such as floods and freak winds. Secondly, they provide green infrastructure for island ecosystems, which could help those islands and their inhabitants adapt better to the effects of climate change. Indeed, the microhabitats wrought by this type of traditional manipulation of the landscape will support conservation and protection and even enhance biodiversity.

From the economic perspective, terraces and stone walls can help in the generation of high-value and high-quality agricultural products and other materials of use to industry. Finally, they offer an aesthetic enhancement to the landscape with great cultural value that is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

Solomou, A., Proutsos, N., Karetsos, G., Tsagari, K. and Chatzipavlis, N. (2022) 'Micrometeorology of the agricultural terraces and stone walls and impacts on biodiversity in the Mediterranean landscape of Greece', Int. J. Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology, Vol. 18, Nos. 1/2, pp.3–21.
DOI: 10.1504/IJARGE.2022.124638

Artificial intelligence and text mining techniques can be used to detect paranoia among social media users. Specifically, work published in the International Journal of Computational Science and Engineering, has examined the behaviour of Twitter users in their updates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in order to detect personality disorders associated with paranoia.

Mourad Ellouze, Seifeddine Mechti, Moez Krichen, and Lamia Hadrich Belguith of the University of Sfax in Tunisia and Vinayakumar Ravi of the Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, suggest that the behaviour of people towards the pandemic driven by mistrust of authority and fuelled by disinformation has somewhat hindered the way in which we have dealt with this global crisis.

The team suggests that in parallel with this general behaviour among some people there is a more worrying reaction among those with serious mental health problems associated with paranoia. Such conditions, when faced with the existential angst presented by a lethal pandemic, can lead to serious anxiety, grief, and suicidal thoughts.

Ultimately, the team's analysis of Twitter users discussing COVID-19 could allow them to find people who may be suffering unduly and may be entering a personal crisis. In other words, the tools they discuss could be used as a proxy diagnostic that could allow qualified professionals to offer an appropriate intervention for patients with paranoia. Perhaps it might also be used to guide decisions made by Twitter itself and its algorithms that lower risk for its vulnerable users.

Ellouze, M., Mechti, S., Krichen, M., Ravi, V. and Belguith, L.H. (2022) 'A deep learning approach for detecting the behaviour of people having personality disorders towards COVID-19 from Twitter', Int. J. Computational Science and Engineering, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp.353–366.
DOI: 10.1504/IJCSE.2022.124553

The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought tragedy, social and economic decline. However, humanity is finding ways to adapt to the so-called "new normal" in terms of healthcare, society, business, and finance. Writing in the International Journal of Electronic Finance, a team from India discusses how the pressure to move various aspects of our lives into the online world because of the pandemic has led to the mainstreaming of online financial transactions to an unprecedented degree.

Kamakhya Narain Singh of the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs within the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in the Indian government in Haryana and Shruti Malik of the Department of Management Studies at the JCBOSE University of Science and Technology also in Haryana, point out the obvious efficiency and efficacy of online financial transactions when compared to cash transactions. The team has looked at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the various restrictions and lockdowns that were put in place in an attempt to slow the spread of the disease, particularly on financial transactions. They have also considered how financial literacy affected the adoption of online finances, especially among low-income groups.

The team used a logistic regression model to analyse 2019 data from the National Centre for Financial Education 2019 survey of around 36600 households in the low-income bracket. Low income is defined as below 50000 Indian Rupees (just over US$600) annually for a given household.

The fundamental result from the analysis was that financial literacy was instrumental in the adoption of online banking by those in this group. Thus improved education and guidance in this area could improve the outlook for those people who might benefit from online finances in ways that were previously not possible. The researchers suggest that policymakers should look to improve financial literacy. They add that there needs to be better investor protection and a system for addressing customer complaints. They even have the radical idea of there being incentives put in place to encourage financial literacy among low-income households, a financial reward given at random on a regular basis to a household that uses online financial services.

The ultimate aim would be to nudge people in such a way that online financial services become the norm rather than cash transactions, such a nudge would improve processes in the financial sector but also protect people in a future crisis when we come to rely on the online world for the next new normal.

Singh, K.N. and Malik, S. (2022) 'COVID-19 crisis – an opportunity for mainstreaming digital financial transactions', Int. J. Electronic Finance, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp.269–290.
DOI: 10.1504/IJEF.2022.124479

When it comes to the donation of sperm or egg, gamete donation, there is an inherent ethical conflict – the right to privacy of the donor and the child's right to know their biological parent. Hanna Krushelnytska of the National Academy of Legal Sciences of Ukraine in Kyiv discusses the legal nature of gamete donation in the International Journal of Public Law and Policy.

Technology and medicine have brought us to a point in human history unlike any other, where we can carry out biological processes in vitro that once could only be done in vivo. As such, there are now many people in the world who were born through an unconventional meeting of sperm and egg. Technically, we might talk of "assisted reproduction" or "artificial reproduction", but there is, of course, nothing artificial about the person's humanity. The law, however, is often slow to keep up with technological advances and the moral dilemmas they often bring with them.

Krushelnytska has looked at legislation around the world surrounding donor anonymity and the rights of the children born through assisted reproduction. The conflicts are essentially enshrined in different laws wherein they are regarded as medical laws in some contexts but also commercial law where the legislation encompasses the transactions and payments that might be made. Of course, the laws are asymmetrical when considering sperm and egg and how those are obtained and used.

There is an urgent need for tangled legal structures to be unknotted and the rights of donors and children to be clarified. How this might be done successfully given the inherent conflicting status of the various parties remains to be seen.

Krushelnytska, H. (2022) 'On the legal nature of gamete donation', Int. J. Public Law and Policy, Vol. 8, Nos. 3/4, pp.256–270.
DOI: 10.1504/IJPLAP.2022.124428

Journal news

Prof. Yaodong Gu from Ningbo University in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology.

Prof. Kean C. Aw from the University of Auckland in New Zealand has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Biomechatronics and Biomedical Robotics.

Newly announced title: International Journal of the Energy-Growth Nexus

We are pleased to announce that the International Journal of Economic Policy in Emerging Economies is now an Open Access-only journal. All accepted articles submitted from 14 July 2022 onwards will be Open Access, and will require an article processing charge of US $1500.

Inderscience's Editorial Office is pleased to report that the following journals have improved the impact factor allocated to them by Clarivate' Science Citation Index Expanded:

International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing
International Journal of Environment and Pollution
International Journal of Exergy
International Journal of Materials and Product Technology
International Journal of Vehicle Design

Prof. Marina L. Gavrilova from the University of Calgary in Canada has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of the Digital Human.

Prof. Shingo Yamaguchi from Yamaguchi University in Japan has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Internet of Things and Cyber-Assurance.

Prof. Barbara Klein from the University of Michigan-Dearborn in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Information Quality.

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