Tagging.tech presents an audio interview with Jonas Dahl about image recognition
Tagging.tech presents an audio interview with Mark Sears on crowdsourcing
Henrik de Gyor: This is Tagging.tech. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today, I’m speaking with Mark Sears. Mark, how are you?
Mark Sears: I’m doing great, Henrik, Thank you.
Henrik: Mark, who are you and what do you do?
Mark: My name is Mark Sears. I’m Founder and CEO of Cloud Factory. We spend a lot of time leveraging an on-demand workforce to structure data. We take a lot of unstructured data per clients and we process that in the cloud using a combination of human and machine intelligence. We do that for a lot of, mostly tech companies. We work a lot with technology companies that are looking for an API driven workforce to do tons of different use cases very relevant often to tagging tech would be things like tagging images for the purpose of machine learning. Or tagging images in terms of core business processes for things like intelligence. We do transcription and translation. We do a lot of document processing, again, trends like processing receipts and invoices. We do web research going out to do human powered screen scraping for lead generation, serum enrichment.
A lot of different, very tedious, routine, repetitive work. We do it in a bit of a different model. Again, what we refer to as cloud labor. The ability for organizations to send their work to the clouds and have it come back done accurately, quickly, cost-effectively in hours if not minutes. So that’s kind of the world that we claim.
Henrik: Mark, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with crowdsourcing?
Mark: When we think of crowdsourcing, we often like to look at it compared to maybe more traditional outsourcing model. We actually consider ourselves to be somewhere in between. So, my view of the world is that traditionally having a large number of people working in a delivery center … Offshoring, outsourcing. You need to get work done. This is one option that obviously a lot of companies have used in the last 20 years. Is to send that work to a team, maybe thousands of people that are sitting in urban India, Philippines or China. That’s one way to get a lot of this type of paperwork done.
Another way, that’s more popular, recently, is to send it to a crowd and to do crowdsourcing. Our kind of view of the world is that crowdsourcing and sending out work to anonymous crowds, someone who maybe just signs up online and there’s not a really high level of engagement, accountability or ability to get quality from out of an anonymous, faceless crowd. We see that on one side of the spectrum. We see the other side of the spectrum being a traditional outsourcing. The view of the world that we have is right in between. It’s the idea of having an on-demand workforce that is leveraging automation and is highly efficient because of technology. But, at the same time, is not an anonymous crowd. We actually know and train, professionally managed and curated crowd. I think that’s a roundabout way of talking about how we view the world that I’ve seen and learned through a lot of different projects … The biggest challenge is often quality.
It’s really harnessing the tower of an anonymous crowd is something that’s quite hard to do. So we love kind of playing in the hybrid and finding that radical middle where you get the best of all worlds in terms of quality, scalability, elastically, cost-effectiveness, speed of turn around, etc. to accomplish your large data work projects.
Henrik: Mark, as of April, 2016, how do you see crown sourcing changing?
Mark: Moving forward, there’s no question that the rise of robots and the flattening of the world are two major trends that are affecting, not just crowdsourcing, but really the future of work and really how enterprises get their work done. As we think of both of those trends, the world becoming more and more flat because of mostly the internet as well as just the cost of devices to access the internet. We’ve had 1.1 billion people have come online in the last five years’ And there’s another billion expected in the next five years.
So you have this massive, global workforce that are now able to contribute to the tagging, and again, the routine repetitive work that every organization has deep inside that needs to get done. This new, untapped potential in being able to do online work and to leverage the talent that is equally distributed around the world. Again, acknowledging that opportunity is not. And so, we can really flatten the world with the internet with crowdsourcing and other online work approaches.
The other side of it again, is automation and the rise of robots. Any project or solution that is not thinking first how do we automate this … Is going to be left behind. We absolutely have to leverage technology. Automation takes on a different forms. Actually, automating the work itself, using AI, ML, etc, to automate pieces of our tagging, labeling, video, audio, transcribing processing type of workloads is definitely essential to do that. But a lot of the technology just is not there. Looking first to see what pieces can you actually automate.
And then also, of course, there’s the delivery and the receipt of the work. Being able to have the API to be able to send the work in and have it sent back once the work is completed, that automation. Having the automation of the workflow is well to streamline and speed things up and make things more cost-effective.
There’s automating the actual work and there’s the automating of processes of getting the work done and delivering and receiving that one. Really, I see that’s a huge trend that everyone is how do we make this more streamlined, more efficient, faster, more cost effective, less manual touches in these projects to really, really make things more effective. That does include, as well, trying to automate as much of the work that we can do -That’s one thing that we have really seen just the desire and requirement to find the right mix of human and machine intelligence for every project. For every solution. It really is different for every solution.
Trying to automate as much as we can with the approach, but obviously, there’s a lot of nuances in doing, kind of split, AB testing to kind of understand really what is the best, total cost of ownership of the solution depending on how much automation you include. Those are two trends definitely play into the future of getting this type of work done.
Henrik: Mark, what else would you like to share with people looking into crowdsourcing?
Mark: I think the key thing is understanding self serve versus full serve. There’s no question there’s power in leveraging a global workforce and accessing online and being able to send your repetitive data projects to a crowd. The question is that there is experience in doing that. A lot of people do like to have a self serve approach and accessing it themselves. Other people prefer to have experts that are there to help along the way in terms of making sure that you’re getting the quality out of the crowd that you’re expecting.
I think that as we look at the landscape, one way, I think somebody should be thinking about their project is, am I ready to do this on my own or is it better to maybe work with a little more enterprise-grade approach? We often encourage people to think about that span. If you’ve got a smaller project that you need done really quick, quality is not the highest priority. It’s going to be more that you just need it done quick and cheap. I think self-serve options to send that work out and get it back it really where you want to be going.
If you have a larger project or an ongoing project, one that requires really getting good, accurate work done, maybe there’s an opportunity to find a portion of that to be automated. All of those things, I think, you want to be looking for a little bit more of an enterprise-grade. Maybe a full service, professional service type approach. I think is a key thing that we would recommend that people think through as they begin to look at crowdsourcing as a way to get their project done.
Henrik: Mark, where can we find more information about crowdsourcing?
Mark: Crowdsourcing as a term has definitely been broad and changed. I think the usual source of Googling crowdsourcing is going to lead you in a lot of different directions from crowdfunding to Wikipedia to a lot of different directions. There definitely are some sources that are out there, but there’s not that many players that are really in this space. I think it’s great to take a look at everyone’s approach in terms of how, exactly the tools that they provide access to … Where you’d access the crowd. The services that they provide. How they manage, recruit and train and vet their workforce, their crowd. I think probably the best way is really to get out there and explore some of the different options that are available from different partners.
Specifically, in terms of finding some other places online to learn crowdsourcing.org is one good resource. Specifically, they have a cloud labor tab that has some good information. You can follow along and see how people are leveraging these distributed, virtual labor pools to fulfill a large variety of tasks. That’s one great place. Obviously, our particular take on the world at cloudfactory.com is another option … Thoughts and resources and some articles and such again that help people think through how to really leverage the technology platform with a global workforce to accomplish their large data projects.
Henrik: Well, thanks Mark.
Mark: Thank you.
Henrik: For more on this, visit Tagging.tech. Thanks again.
For a book about this, visit keywordingnow.com
Tagging.tech presents an audio interview with Joe Dew about image recognition
Joe Dew: I’m well. How are you?
Henrik: Good. Joe, who are you and what do you do?
Joe: I am the Head of Product for a company called JustVisual. JustVisual is a deep learning company focused on computer vision and image recognition. We’ve been doing this for almost eight years. What my role is in the company is…think of me as the interface between engineering and computer vision scientist and end customers.
We have a very deep technology bench and technology stack that does very sophisticated things, but translating a lot of that technology and capabilities to end‑consumers can be a challenge. Likewise, we have customers who are interested in the space, but aren’t really clear how to use it. My role is to translate their needs into requirements for engineering.
Henrik: Joe, what are the biggest challenges and successes you’ve seen with image and video recognition?
Joe: I think the biggest challenge is, for a little perspective, is that the human brain has evolved for millions of millions of years to be able to handle and process visual information very easily. A lot of the things that we as humans can recognize and do ‑‑ even a two‑ or three‑year‑old child can do ‑‑ is actually quite difficult to do for computers and takes a lot of work.
The implication of this is that the expectations from users on precision and accuracy when it comes to visual recognition is very, very high. I like to say there’s no such thing as a visual homonym.
Meaning that, if you did a text search, for example, and you typed in the word jaguar and it comes back with a car, and it comes back with a cat, you can understand why the search result came back that way. If I had asked the question with a visual ‑‑ if I queried a search engine with an image ‑‑ and it came back with a car when I meant for a cat it would be a complete fail.
When we’ve done testing with users, on visual similarity for example, the expectations of the similarity is very, very high. They expect something like almost an exact match when they’re asking. It’s largely because we, as humans, expect that. Again, if you think about how we interact with the world digitally, it’s actually a very unnatural thing.
When you search for things, you have to translate that, oftentimes, into a word or a phrase. You type it into a box and it returns words and phrases at which point you then need to translate again into the real world.
In the real world, you just look at something, you say, “Hey, I want something like that.” It is a picture in your mind, and you expect to receive something like that. What we’re trying to do is solve that problem, which is very tricky thing for computers to do at this point. But, having said that, in the field there’s been tremendous improvements in this capability.
Companies from Google to Facebook to Microsoft, for example, are doing some very interesting work in that field.
Henrik: Joe, as of March 2016, how do you see image in video recognition changing?
Joe: I think the three big factors that are impacting this field is increasing rise in processing power of a hardware, just the chip technology, Moore’s law, that type of thing.
Secondly is a vast improvement in the sophistication of algorithms or, specifically, deep learning algorithms that are getting smarter and smarter in training.
The third is, the increase in data. There is just so much visual data now ‑‑ which has not been true in years past ‑‑ that can be used for training and for increase in precision and recall. Those are the things that are happening on the technology field.
The translation of all of these is the accuracy of image recognition and, for that matter, video recognition will see exponential improvements in the next few months even, let alone years. You started to see that already. You start seeing that in the client‑side applications and robotics, websites, and the ability to extract pieces out of an image and see visually similar results.
Henrik: Joe, what advice would you like to share with people looking at image and video recognition?
Joe: I think the understanding the use case is probably the most important thing to think about. Oftentimes, you hear about the technology and what it can do, but you need to really think thoroughly about what, exactly, do you want the technology to do.
As an example, a lot of the existing technology today does what we called image recognition, or the idea of taking an image or a video clip and essentially tagging it with the English language words. Think of it as translating an image into text. That’s very useful for a lot of cases, but oftentimes, from a use case ‑‑ from a user ‑‑ it’s not that useful.
If you take a picture of a chair, for example, and it returns back chair, the users says, “I know it’s a chair. Why do I need this technology to tell me it’s a chair?” But, “What I’m really looking for is a chair that looks like this. Where can I find it?” That is a harder question to answer, and that is not an exercise where you’re simply translating it to words.
We found that there are companies that use Mechanical Turk techniques, etc. to essentially tag images, but users have not really adopted to that because, again, it’s not that useful. That’s one thing, is think about the use case of what exactly do you want the technology to do.
A lot of the machine learning and deep learning systems involve a lot of training. The other part you need to think about is, what do you want the algorithm to train for? Is it simply tagging or is it to extract certain visual attributes? Is it pattern? Is it color? What is it that you actually want the algorithm to see, essentially?
Then the third area is, right now, user adoption of the technology is still pretty low. I think that as it becomes broader and broader and more commonplace, you start seeing it in more and more applications, it will increase in adoption, but the concept of using an image as a query is still very foreign to most people.
When you say visual search, it doesn’t really mean anything to them. There’s a whole user adoption curve that has to happen before they can catch up to the technology.
Henrik: Where can we find out more information about image and video recognition?
Joe: You can go to our site, justvisual.com, to give you some background of what we do. There’s just a lot of interesting companies and researches happening right now in the field. It’s little bit all over the place, so there isn’t necessarily one place that has all the information, because the field is changing so quickly. It’s exciting times for this field.
For a book about this, visit keywordingnow.com