Science

Synthetaic raises $3.5M to train AI with synthetic data

Updated 21st October 2020 | 10:56 IST

Synthetic may be a startup working to make data — specifically images — which will be wont to train AI.

Founder and CEO Corey Jaskolski’s experience includes work with both National Geographic (where he was recently named Explorer of the Year) and a 3D media startup. In fact, he told me that his time with National Geographic made him conscious of the necessity for more data sets in conservation.

Sound like an odd match? Well, Jaskolski said that he was performing on a project that would automatically identify poachers and endangered animals from camera footage, and one among the main obstacles was the very fact that there simply aren’t enough existing images of either poacher (who don’t generally appreciate being photographed) or certain endangered animals within the wild to coach AI to detect them.

He added that other companies try to make synthetic AI training data through 3D worldbuilding (in other words, “building a reproduction of the planet that you simply want to possess an AI learn in”), but in many cases, this approach is prohibitively expensive.

In contrast, the Synthetic (pronounced “synthetic”) approach combines the work of 3D artists and modellers with technology-supported generative adversarial networks, making it much more affordable and scalable, consistent with Jaskolski.

To illustrate the “interplay” between the 2 halves of Synthetaic’s model, he returned to the instance of identifying poachers — the startup’s 3D team could create photorealistic models of an AK-47 (and other weapons), then use adversarial networks to get many thousands of images or more showing that model against different backgrounds.

The startup also validates its results after an AI has been trained on Synthetaic’s synthesized images, by testing that AI on real data.

For Synthetaic’s initial projects, Jaskolski said he wanted to partner with organizations doing work that creates the planet a far better place, including Save the Elephants (which is using the technology to track animal populations) and therefore the University of Michigan (which is developing an AI which will identify different types of brain tumours).

Jaskolski added that Synthetic customers don’t need any AI expertise of their own, because the corporate provides an “end-to-end” solution.

The startup announced today that it’s raised $3.5 million in seed funding led by Lupa Systems, with participation from Betaworks Ventures and TitletownTech (a partnership between Microsoft and therefore the Green Bay Packers). The startup, which has now raised a complete of $4.5 million, is additionally a part of Lupa and Betaworks’ Betalab program of startups doing work that would help “fix the web .”

 

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