Computer Vision News - October 2020

AI application development platform 16 Snorkel.AI Braden Hancock and Paroma Varma are co-founders of California-based AI start-up, Snorkel, which spun out of the Stanford AI Lab last year. Devang Sachdev is VP of Marketing. All three speak to us about the origins of Snorkel, its journey to becoming a company, and how they are now focusing their efforts on Snorkel Flow, its end-to-end AI application development platform. The idea for Snorkel, Braden says, began to form when he and Paroma were “wet behind the ears” PhD students at Stanford University . “It was obvious that deep learning and these other very powerful models were changing the landscape of machine learning,” he recalls. “You no longer needed to spend somuch time focusingondeveloping very specific features for individual problems, but instead there were increasingly commoditized models available from excellent libraries like PyTorch and TensorFlow .” The pair realized that the bottleneck for high-performing machine learning was likely to shift more towards the training data that drives the features learned in these powerful models. By focusing on the data part of the machine learning stack they could unlock potential downstream. They set about taking what was a very manual process of labelling examples one by one – something that does not scale very well and is hard to outsource because it requires specific expertise – and making it programmatic. “We were really excited about making machine learning more accessible for people, ” Paroma tells us. “Training data was that first hold-up that people were facing when they were trying to apply all these state-of-the-art machine learning models to their own problems.” Through collaborations with industry as well as academia, they saw that people were able to take advantage of these state-of-the-artmachine learningmodels and apply them to their own problems because Snorkel was helping with that first step. Extending their focus from the data to that end-to-endmachine learning Braden Hancock Paroma Varma