September 29, 2020

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New Tech Will Unlock Access to Deep Learning for NZ

Machine Learning

A team from New Zealand’s University of Waikato has received funding for a research project that could make it far easier for a huge range of everyday technological solutions to get off the ground.

According to a recent press release, a NZ$ 1 million Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) Endeavour Fund grant has been announced for a three-year User-Friendly Deep Learning research project led by computer science professors.

This research could result in a complex machine-learning technology, which could be made available in a simple form for a huge range of commercial applications.

Machine learning, which is linked to Artificial Intelligence (AI), is the study of algorithms and statistical models that computer systems use to perform tasks without instructions.

It relies mainly on patterns and images.

The Problem

  • Many economic, environmental, and social questions require accurate decision-making based on data consisting of a large number of highly correlated variables.
  • Most organisations face significant barriers to the use of this technology because of the set-up cost involved and the lack of expertise in New Zealand.
  • There are companies that provide off-the-shelf solutions for standard tasks such as object identification and image classification.
  • However, it is still often very challenging to obtain good tailor-made machine learning solutions for specific problems, particularly when little data is available for machine learning.

The Solution

  • The project will address this, thereby producing a user-friendly software platform that removes this bottleneck.
  • The platform will unlock access to deep learning technology for a much wider sector of the New Zealand economy.
  • Access to the technology could provide a huge boost for small and medium enterprises that cannot invest in the people needed to do the required technological development.

About the Project

  1. The project’s idea centres on constructing a system so that anyone with an idea or a need can have a prototype solution built that validates their proposition.
  2. Another unique facet of the research proposal is the ability to tweak models so they reach the ultimate in accuracy, via direct user involvement with the system.
  3. The difference here is putting the human in the modelling loop as well.
  4. Normally, humans would produce a dataset at the start for the computer to use and then be pretty hands-off.
  5. That would be the extent of their involvement in the process and their only opportunity to input knowledge into the process.
  6. However, their model will have the user be much more intimately involved in the cycle of doing the training.
  7. The team’s first task will involve building a number of prototypes early on to test responses.
  8. The whole system will be constructed in a sort of vanilla form quite quickly in order to get some user interaction going. It is good to do that testing early on rather than leaving it to the end.
  9. The Endeavour Fund is about addressing a problem that has not been solved.