Facebook trains A.I. to ‘see’ using 1 billion public Instagram photos

A person using Instagram.

Lorenzo Di Cola | NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pugs, Ferraris, mountains, brunches, beaches, and babies — Instagram is full of them. In fact, it’s become one of the largest image databases on the planet over the last decade and the company’s owner, Facebook, is using this treasure trove to teach machines what’s in a photo.

Facebook announced on Thursday that it had built an artificial intelligence program that can “see” what it is looking at. It did this by feeding it over 1 billion public images from Instagram.

The “computer vision” program, nicknamed SEER, outperformed existing AI models in an object recognition test, Facebook said.

It achieved a “classification accuracy score” of 84.2% when it attempted a test provided by ImageNet, which is a large visual database designed for use in visual object recognition software research. Basically, it tests whether an AI program can identify what’s in a photo.

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