AI-training platform Mighty AI raises $14m from Intel, Google, Accenture

Mighty AI, formerly Spare5, will use the $14 million it raised from Intel, Accenture, and Google to extend its AI training platform and hire new staff.

Seattle-based startup Mighty AI, recently rebranded from Spare5, has raised $14 million in a Series A1 round led by Intel Capital, with participation from new investors Google Ventures (GV) and Accenture Ventures. Existing investors Foundry Group, Madrona Venture Group, and New Enterprise Associates also contributed to the round.

Founded in 2014, Mighty AI pays subject matter experts to fine-tune artificial intelligence (AI) engines so they can see, hear, talk, and "think" like humans. Businesses that are looking to use AI technology, but don't have the datasets required to set up effective AI software, are able to acquire the right datasets to train and scale their computer vision and natural language models.

"In the future, we will count on AI to make every aspect of our lives better," said Mighty AI founder and CEO Matt Bencke. "But, for AI models to do all this and more, they need to understand what and how we think. Mighty AI is the critical link between computer and human cognition, putting the right humans in the right learning loops."

The new funding, which adds to the $13 million previously raised by the startup, will be used to extend its so called "Training Data as a Service" platform and community of "Fives" -- a network of more than 100,000 individuals who conduct microtasks in their spare time, such as identifying and labelling objects in images or doing sentiment analysis of text.

Mighty AI will also use the funding to expand its team of data scientists, engineers, and product, sales, and marketing professionals.

In addition, Mighty AI has signed agreements with Intel and Accenture that will see the companies recommend and sell the startup's training data services to their customers globally.

The agreement outlines that Intel and Accenture's customers will have access to: Infrastructure such as the chips Intel builds; mathematical algorithms that process large amounts of calculations in parallel to "think"; training data that turns these blank slates into simulations of human knowledge; and the application of the resulting AI models in interfaces that make it easy for people to use.

"As our CEO, Brian Krzanich, has said, AI is not only the next big wave in computing; it's the next major turning point in human history," said Doug Fisher, Intel Corporation senior vice president. "Intel is investing in AI, with the goal of driving breakthrough performance while making AI solutions more accessible and easier to deploy for all ... To produce high quality data for training models to deploy, it is essential to obtain clean, accurate human annotations at scale."

In addition to artificial intelligence, in November 2016, Intel Capital announced that it would be investing more than $250 million over the next two years to help make fully autonomous vehicles a reality. Krzanich said at the time that data is the new oil and pointed to several ways autonomous cars will collect data, such as cameras, radar, sonar, GPS, and LIDAR. It's projected each vehicle will generate around 4TB of data a day.

"You could say oil is the key technology that allowed the automotive world we know today," Krzanich wrote in a blog post at the time. "When it comes to the car of the future and automated driving experiences, however, data is literally the new oil. Data has the potential to radically change the way we think about the driving experience."

Accenture has also been increasing its focus on artificial intelligence. In May 2016, it formed a new business unit in partnership with IPsoft focused on spurring adoption of AI in the enterprise.

Meanwhile, Google created a new research group dedicated to artificial intelligence in mid-2016 in line with its CEO Sundar Pichai's AI-centric strategy. In April that year, Pichai said he foresees a time when devices will completely vanish, to be replaced by omnipresent artificial intelligence, and that the company's investments in AI are preparing it for such a world.