Meta is looking for kids’ drawings to improve its AI model

17 Dec 2021

Image: Meta

With new software that animates children’s drawings, Meta hopes to build AI that can ‘understand the world from a human point of view’.

Meta has developed AI technology that can animate human-like figures in children’s drawings, making them dance, skip and jump.

While existing AI technology can easily animate well-made drawings of human-shaped figures, it often finds it harder to identify what to animate in children’s drawings because of their abstract shapes and forms, which are otherwise understood by parents and teachers.

By uploading children’s drawing to a Meta prototype system, parents can make the human-like figures come to life using the upgraded AI.

The Facebook parent company is hoping that these uploads will improve its AI software’s recognition technology. To that end, it allows parents to opt-in to allow their children’s drawings to be used to improve the AI model.

“While many AI tools can handle realistic images of humans, children’s drawings add a level of variety and unpredictability that makes identifying what’s being portrayed much more complex,” said a blog post from Meta announcing the new feature.

“Our goal was to build an AI system that can identify and automatically animate the human-like figures in children’s drawings with a high success rate and without any human guidance,” the company added.

The software accomplishes the animation in four steps. First, it identifies the human-like figure in the child’s drawing, then it isolates it from all the non-human elements (such as trees) in the drawing. It then identifies the joints in the figure and, in the final step, employs standard AI methods to animate it.

“By teaching AI to work effectively with children’s drawings, we hope this project will move us closer to building AI that can understand the world from a human point of view,” Meta claimed.

Meta has invested billions in ARand VR research this year, with much more in the pipeline for the development of its virtual metaverse.

Building the metaverse will require automated animation so that users can appear as avatars in virtual meetings and events.

Demonstrating meetings in the metaverse, Financial Times journalist Henry Mance tweeted a video yesterday (16 December) showing his avatar interviewing that of Meta VP of global affairs Nick Clegg.

Mance described his experience of meeting someone in the metaverse as “disorienting”, “oddly intimate” and “not that easy”. He noted that his list of questions disappeared from the virtual screen, prompting him to take off his Oculus headset to read his written notes every time.

“Would I do it again? Yes,” he concluded.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic