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Apple's AI Team Publishes First Research Paper Focused on Advanced Image Recognition

photos-iconEarlier in December, Apple announced that it would begin allowing its artificial intelligence and machine learning researchers to publish and share their work in papers, slightly pulling back the curtain on the company's famously secretive creation processes. Now, just a few weeks later, the first of those papers has been published, focusing on Apple's work in the intelligent image recognition field.

Titled "Learning from Simulated and Unsupervised Images through Adversarial Training," the paper describes a program that can intelligently decipher and understand digital images in a setting similar to the "Siri Intelligence" and facial recognition features introduced in Photos in iOS 10, but more advanced.

In the research, Apple notes the downsides and upsides of using real images compared with that of "synthetic," or computer images. Annotations must be added to real images, an "expensive and time-consuming task" that requires a human workforce to individually label objects in a picture. On the other hand, computer-generated images help to catalyze this process "because the annotations are automatically available."

Still, fully switching to synthetic images could lead to a dip in the quality of the program in question. This is because "synthetic data is often not realistic enough" and would lead to an end-user experience that only responded well to details present in the computer-generated images, while being unable to generalize well on any real-world objects and pictures it faced.

This leads to the paper's central proposition -- the combination of using both simulated and real images to work together in "adversarial training," creating an advanced AI image program:
In this paper, we propose Simulated+Unsupervised (S+U) learning, where the goal is to improve the realism of synthetic images from a simulator using unlabeled real data. The improved realism enables the training of better machine learning models on large datasets without any data collection or human annotation effort.

We show that this enables generation of highly realistic images, which we demonstrate both qualitatively and with a user study.
The rest of the paper goes into the details of Apple's research on the topic, including experiments that have been run and the math proposed to back up its findings. The paper's research focused solely on single images, but the team at Apple notes towards the end that it hopes to sometime soon "investigate refining videos" as well.

The credits on the paper go to Apple researchers Ashish Shrivastava, Tomas Pfister, Oncel Tuzel, Josh Susskind, Wenda Wang, and Russ Webb. The team's research was first submitted on November 15, but it didn't get published until December 22.

At the AI conference in Barcelona a few weeks ago, Apple head of machine learning Russ Salakhutdinov -- and a few other employees -- discussed topics including health and vital signs, volumetric detection of LiDAR, prediction with structured outputs, image processing and colorization, intelligent assistant and language modeling, and activity recognition. We'll likely see papers on a variety of these topics and more in the near future.


Top Rated Comments

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12 weeks ago
Bunch of sad half witty replies fishing for likes. Try to post some quality discussion next time guys
Rating: 40 Votes
12 weeks ago

Bunch of sad half witty replies fishing for likes. Try to post some quality discussion next time guys


Ok, what? You mean like Apple spent more time on describing the new iMessage at WWDC than any other feature for iOS10? Clearly highlighting emoji as the flagship feature for iOS10? Oh, and lets not forget, they were too busy with emoji to realize they have a horrible battery bug in iOS10? I mean, using Apple's built in flashlight app shouldn't drain 10% of my battery for 4 minutes of use should it? Or shutting down when my phone is at 37% just yesterday only to plug it in and it be back at 37% then drain somewhat normal only to shut down again at 12%? And no, the health of my battery is just fine, or is the Apple Store lying to me when they checked. Or how about how they completely compromised the user experience of the new MBP by sacrificing 25% battery capacity to thin it down and make it lighter for a device that sits on a fixed surface for 99% of the users. Or how about Siri has gotten worse as time as gone on, while competitors get better and better each year?

So please, take your pick and lets have some "quality discussion". All I usually see is people offering validated criticism and then the other half defending apple as if it was their child and blaming the user. You're right, Apple can never do any wrong. They are always right and never wrong. Silly me, my messed up iPhone battery life is a new iOS feature, or is it because I'm using an iPhone 5S and as Phil said, I should be upgrading since it's ancient.

Edit: And as far as Photos go, maybe they should actually do something about families because their current "family share" features are a complete joke.
Rating: 22 Votes
12 weeks ago
If anybody wants to play around with AI image recognition, CloudSight ('http://cloudsight.ai/api') (scroll down to the Try it Out area) allows users to upload an image for recognition. It can be pretty cool to see how accurate its tagging is.



This image was described as "grey jar carton and bottle sketch" after uploading.

Rating: 19 Votes
12 weeks ago
I'm not sure if it is the competition getting better, but I feel as though Siri is getting dumber by the minute. Context requests are out of the question, it isn't current with sports anymore, and I've found myself being cut off with "sorry I didn't get that" while in a quiet room.

Siri stopped being a useful tool ever since they dropped "raise to speak". I find myself using my Pixel for anything requiring hands free.
Rating: 19 Votes
12 weeks ago

Bunch of sad half witty replies fishing for likes. Try to post some quality discussion next time guys

That's all I see here anymore...a race to critique Apple for making thin devices, requiring dongles and make fun of Siri. Oh and everyone gets bonus points for using the word "courage" in any post. Pathetic commenters.
Rating: 18 Votes
12 weeks ago

Bunch of sad half witty replies fishing for likes. Try to post some quality discussion next time guys


When there's something of quality to write about, I'll write about it.

Until then, release joke products, receive joke replies.

Quid, pro, quo.
Rating: 12 Votes
12 weeks ago

Bunch of sad half witty replies fishing for likes. Try to post some quality discussion next time guys


Exactly. This is why MacRumors is becoming unreadable as of late. These are the kinds of comments who's member I instantly add to my ignore list:

Woah, woah, woah. We're not interested in artificial intelligence and autonomous learning, they play second fiddle to the real issues. What we really want to know is how thin it is? And can it be thinner?


Can Apple make an AI that shows them how to eliminate dongles?


I must have hundreds on my list by now. MacRumors needs its own AI to weed out these kinds of comment trolls.
Rating: 11 Votes
12 weeks ago
Note that this is a conference paper, not a journal paper, and Apple allowing this is needed to attract high calibre researchers. Browsing through it it seems aimed at technologies 5+ years into the future, for UI that are way beyond Siri.

The ironic thing is that Siri remains a POS. Just about good enough for timers, but don't ask her anything mildly complex (not even complicated) like:
Me: "Add a reminder about defrosting the fish. Actually no, remove the reminder and add it to my calendar instead, for 3pm tomorrow afternoon. "
Siri: I didn't find any appointments about "Reminder" for tomorrow afternoon.
Me: Thank you Siri, you suck
Rating: 11 Votes
12 weeks ago

Bunch of sad half witty replies fishing for likes. Try to post some quality discussion next time guys

Recognize that your complaint and my response to it contribute nothing to the quality of the discussion either. Maybe we both should take your advice and post something quality and relative to the topic.
[doublepost=1482774037][/doublepost]I mentioned when it was first announced that this (researchers being allowed to publish) is one of the best thing coming out of Apple's AI push. Peer review and recognition is one of the cornerstones of research. I bet the group is happy their work can be recognized and possibly appreciated. Happy for them.
Rating: 10 Votes
12 weeks ago
Can Apple make an AI that shows them how to eliminate dongles?
Rating: 8 Votes

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