Synthetaic is a startup workign to create data – especially images – with which artificial intelligence can be trained.
Founder and CEO Corey Jaskolski's past experiences include working with National Geographic (where he was recently named Explorer of the Year) and a 3D media startup. In fact, he told me that his time at National Geographic made him aware of the need for more data sets for conservation.
Sounds like a strange match? Well, Jaskolski said he was working on a project that could automatically identify poachers and endangered animals based on camera footage, and one of the biggest obstacles was the fact that there just aren't enough pictures of both poachers (who generally don't appreciate it, being photographed) or certain endangered animals in the wild to train the AI to recognize them.
He added that other companies are trying to create synthetic AI training data through 3D worldbuilding (in other words, "making a replica of the world you want to learn AI in"), but in many cases this approach is prohibitively expensive .
In contrast, the Synthetaic approach (pronounced “synthetic”) combines the work of 3D artists and modelers with technologies based on generative adversarial networks, making them far more affordable and scalable, according to Jaskolski.
To illustrate the “interplay” between the two halves of Synthetaics' model, he returned to the identification of poachers, for example. The startup's 3D team could create photorealistic models of an AK 47 (and other weapons) and then use opposing networks to generate hundreds of thousands of images or more showing that model against different backgrounds.
The startup also validates its results after an AI has been trained on the synthesized images by Synthetaic by testing this AI on real data.
For Synthetaic's early projects, Jaskolski said he wanted to work with organizations that do the jobs that make the world a better place, including Save the Elephants (which uses the technology to track animal populations) and the University of Michigan (the one AI developed that does this can identify different types of brain tumors).
Jaskolski added that Synthetaic customers do not need their own AI know-how as the company offers an “end-to-end” solution.
The startup announced today that it has raised $ 3.5 million in seed capital, led by Lupa Systems, through the participation of Betaworks Ventures and TitletownTech (a partnership between Microsoft and the Green Bay Packers). The startup, which has now raised a total of $ 4.5 million, is also part of Lupa's and Betaworks' Betalab program, in which startups are doing work that could help fix the Internet.