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👋 Welcome to AIcrowd

Hi there, and welcome to AIcrowd. In this first blogpost, I’d like to say a few words about where we come from, and what we believe.

AIcrowd is the next step of something we used to call crowdAI(.org) - a platform for data science challenges that my lab built at EPFL. Launched in the spring of 2016, crowdAI was built on the simple idea that crowdsourcing AI development could be a solution to a problem that many organizations face, which is the lack of access to AI expertise. At the time, my lab was exploring the use of image recognition for plant diseases, and while we knew that the problem could be addressed with deep learning, we lacked the expertise in the lab to make serious progress, fast.

By pure coincidence, a new grad student called Mohanty joined the lab at about the same time, and it turned out that he had a very good grasp of deep learning. And while we were building crowdAI, he tackled the plant disease recognition problem with deep learning, which eventually resulted in this paper. Despite Mohanty’s progress, we still wanted to use crowdAI to address this problem, and it thus became our first challenge.

Over the next months and years, we started running more challenges. A big moment for us came when we were chosen to run an official NIPS (now NeurIPS) challenge in 2017. This gave us a lot of exposure in the machine learning community, which in turn led to more challenges. In 2018, we were even chosen to run two NeurIPS challenges, and eventually the demand in the platform became so high that it became clear to us that we wouldn’t be able to run this at a professional level as a university project. So Mohanty and I decided to create a company, called AIcrowd, and start all over again.

And so here we are, with a brand new design, and a brand new technology behind the scenes. And we’re super excited to embark on this new journey with you. So that’s where we come from.

What we believe

At AIcrowd, we believe a few things that we want to share here, because it will shape what AIcrowd will be.

  • We believe that AI is an enormous technical power that will affect all organizations in one way or another.

  • We believe that AI is still in its early days, and that while the technology has matured considerably in the past few years, it is still in its infancy.

  • We believe in the wisdom of the crowd, and that a large group of people, with the right coordination tools, can achieve incredible things in a short amount of time.

  • We believe that in many situations, it is more valuable to make rapid progress in the open, rather than to make slow progress behind closed doors. As a side effect, many more people can benefit from the openly shared results.

Because we believe in these things, we believe that developing AI solutions in a crowdsourced way, out in the open, is something of great value to organizations, as it will allow them to accelerate their progress in AI development in order to achieve their goals faster. It is also of great value to the broader community, who will benefit from the shared results and learnings along the way. This is the value we want to create at AIcrowd.

We hope you’ll join us on this journey. We’re keen to share our experiences here on the blog.

See you around!