Machine learning is only as good as the
training data you put into it. So, it’s super important to use high quality data, and lots of it. But if data is important, it’s worth asking where does training data come from? Often, computers are collecting training data from people like you and me, without any effort on our part. A video streaming service might keep track of what you watch, then it can recognize patterns in that data to recommend what you might want to watch next. Other times, you’re directly asked to help, like when a website asks you to spot street signs and photos, You’re providing training data to help a
machine learn to see, and maybe even one day drive. Medical researchers can use
medical images as training data to teach computers how to recognize and diagnose diseases. Machine Learning needs hundreds and thousands of images, and training direction from a doctor who knows what to look for, before it can correctly identify disease. Even with thousands of examples, there can be problems with the computer’s predictions. If X-ray data is only collected from men, then the computer’s predictions may only work for men. It may not recognize diseases when
asked to diagnose the X-ray of a woman. This blind spot in the training data
creates something called bias. Biased data favors some things, and de-prioritizes or excludes others. Depending on how training data is collected, who is doing the collecting, and how the data is fed, there is a chance that
human bias is included in the data. By learning from bias data, the computer may make biased predictions, whether the people training the computer
are aware of it or not. When you are looking at training data, ask yourself two questions: Is this enough data to accurately train a computer? And, does this data represent all possible scenarios and users without bias? This is where you, as the human training, play a crucial role. It’s up to you to give your machine unbiased data. That means collecting tons of examples, from lots of sources. Remember, when you pick and choose data for machine learning, you’re actually programming the algorithm, using training data instead of code. The data IS the code. The better the data you provide, the better the computer will learn.