Dbrain pitches a new token paying users crypto to train artificial intelligence

One of the continuing challenges that artificial intelligence programs face is how they receive and process the information they need to take actions.

While the algorithmic tools that developers have harnessed to automate a dizzying number of different processes are incredibly good at processing information, these machine learning programs need to be taught what information to process — and for now it’s up to the humans that AI will eventually replace to train them.

Dbrain, is a new startup that’s aiming to make sure that if people are going to be replaced by machines, they can at least get paid to train their replacements.

With a pitch that “Dbrain makes AI happen”, the company is offering to pay users of its service in a cryptocurrency for the privilege of teaching machine learning-based programs what to learn.

The company says it’s aiming its tokens at the roughly 2 billion underbanked who don’t have access to traditional bank accounts and therefore can’t take advantage of the opportunity to train artificial intelligence.

That’s a lofty goal for sure, but the company has secured $2.5 million in seed funding from undisclosed sources for its project and is a member of Microsoft’s Bizspark program.

And unlike other companies that have taken their crypto money and run, Dbrain actually has launched an initial version of its web application and a Telegram bot.  Further, the company has managed to land the seal of approval from Nvidia, which allowed the team at Dbrain to join its artificial intelligence-focused “Inception” incubator program.

Datasets, the brain food for all digital brains, are critical to the success of a machine learning program. If machines learn the wrong things the results can be disastrous. Just look at the MIT study, which found gender and skin-color bias in commercial artificial intelligence systems. The examination of facial-analysis software showed error rate of 0.8 percent for light-skinned men, 34.7 percent for dark-skinned women.

The goal of the Dbrain app is to create a cryptographically secure network that will link gig economy workers with data scientists to create datasets that will be used to train artificial intelligence applications.

These days, those projects are typically organized through service like Amazon Mechanical Turk, which can cost two to ten times as much, according to the company.

While Dbrain has taken a distributed blockchain approach, companies like MightyAi,  use fiat currency to pay out to users.

“Talented and highly-skilled engineers are vital for AI development. But the truth is, their tech won’t work without the input from less-skilled workers in developing countries, who analyze, markup and create those large datasets,” says chief executive Dmitry Matskevich in a statement. “We at Dbrain want to create a community which is involved in income distribution as much as in the development process. Anyone can join the platform, earn crypto and become a part of AI-driven industrial revolution”.

The company’s hybrid blockchain uses a public chain built on top of Ethereum and proprietary cryptographic protocols. The tasks on the platform are validated by other gig workers and when the task is complete the platform sense the results off to be validated by other workers. The “subjective proof of crowdwork” protocol validates the quality of the labeling.

By securing the work on the blockchain, the company says that it can protect data owners’ interests and prevent leaks — while allowing engineers to work with previously mapped datasets without accessing the direct data provided by companies.

“Creating AI solutions in previous ventures, we tried to solve the problem of combining privacy and high-quality data mapping in different ways: mturk, dedicated data mapping farms in India, in-house specialists. First two cases required us to transfer our data to the third parties, while the latter lacked speed: we simply couldn’t afford hiring 100 data mappers in-house. Blockchain comes to be a solution,” said Aleksey Hahunov, Dbrain’s chief technology officer, in a statement.

Unlike some teams of crypto founders, Dbrain’s clutch of computational wizards have developed products before, the company says. Previously, they worked on Icon8, a chatbot for editing pictures. That project racked up 7.5 million users and was the top chatbot on Telegram.