Machine learning typically requires tons of examples. To get an AI model to recognize a horse, you need to show it thousands of images of horses. This is what makes the technology computationally expensive—and very different from human learning. A child often needs to see just a few examples of an object, or even only one, before being able to recognize it for life.

In fact, children sometimes don’t need any examples to identify something. Shown photos of a horse and a rhino, and told a unicorn is something in between, they can recognize the mythical creature in a picture book the first time they see it.

Hmm…ok, not quite.MS TECH / PIXABAY

Now a new paper from the University of Waterloo in Ontario suggests that AI models should also be able to do this—a process the researchers call “less than one”-shot, or LO-shot, learning. In other words, an AI model should be able to accurately recognize more objects than the number of examples it was trained on. That could be a big deal for a field that has grown increasingly expensive and inaccessible as the data sets used become ever larger.

How “less than one”-shot learning works

The researchers first demonstrated this idea while experimenting with the popular computer-vision data set known as MNIST. MNIST, which contains 60,000 training images of handwritten digits from 0 to 9, is often used to test out new ideas in the field.

In a previous paper, MIT researchers had introduced a technique to “distill” giant data sets into tiny ones, and as a proof of concept, they had compressed MNIST down to only 10 images. The images weren’t selected from the original data set but carefully engineered and optimized to contain an equivalent amount of information to the full set. As a result, when trained exclusively on the 10 images, an AI model could achieve nearly the same accuracy as one trained on all MNIST’s images.

Handwritten digits between 0 and 9 sampled from the MNIST dataset.

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By: Karen Hao
Title: A radical new technique lets AI learn with practically no data
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2020/10/16/1010566/ai-machine-learning-with-tiny-data/
Published Date: Fri, 16 Oct 2020 09:00:00 +0000

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