CrowdFlower, a crowdsourced data-cleaning and tagging platform, has closed a fresh $10 million in funding in a round led by Microsoft Ventures, Canvas Ventures, and Trinity Ventures. The San Francisco-based company has now raised a total of $38 million.
Founder and CEO Lukas Biewald (who I’ve known and been friendly with since college) said that the company’s current focus is on a new artificial intelligence product.
Ultimately, the platform’s designed to improve over time so that the more human-generated labels are fed in, the more intelligent it becomes. It’s worth noting here that the uploaded data can be anything from images and text to URLs and addresses.
Microsoft’s involvement, through its Microsoft Ventures division, is consistent with the computing giant’s moves elsewhere in the A.I. realm.
Using an approach that he described as “human in the loop,” CrowdFlower AI allows businesses to perform tasks with algorithms and machine learning, but bring in human judgment when they’re not quite as confident in their technology — and then the human work makes the algorithms smarter. (CrowdFlower has built AI technology and a crowdsourced workforce, but customers can also plug in their own tech and remote labor pools.)
While Biewald sees many businesses embracing this hybrid approach, I wondered whether improvements in AI mean that it’s a shrinking opportunity.
“Maybe eventually machines will automate everything that AI does, but at that point AI is practically sentient,” he replied. “We’d be in a pretty weird world.”