Help wanted: Google Photos wants your assistance in training its machine learning algorithms

Android Police is reporting that Google Photos has been asking its users to help improve its algorithms. While this is not Google’s first foray into crowdsourcing help in improving its recognition software, the latest survey, which is rolling out to users on Android, is asking for volunteers to label their images.

Last year, Google Photos asked users to identify faces in images to help improve its facial recognition technology. More recently, Google added a survey to the app, asking users to confirm the accuracy of search results. The latest addition to Google Photos takes it a step further. As Rita El Khoury at Android Police writes, ‘Basically, you’ll be doing some work for free, if you feel like it, and the end result is everyone gets better image and object recognition.’

Machine learning requires a large, accurate data set to help train algorithms. The more data, the better an algorithm can be tuned and trained. For Google Photos, the algorithm needs as many labeled images of as many subjects as possible. Further, not only do people have many different photos in their Google Photos library already, we all capture images differently. A proper training data set doesn’t just include many images, it includes variety of subjects, light, angle, color and more. Ideally, with the help of users, Google Photos will be able to produce more accurate search results.

Screenshots of the ‘Improve Google Photos’ option in the Google Photos app, used with permission from Dr. Rita El Khoury, Managing Editor at Android Police.

If you’d like to participate and help shape the future of Google Photos, you can find a dialog box at the bottom of the ‘Search’ tab in the Google Photos application. The text reads, ‘Help improve Google Photos’ and when you click on the box, you then ‘Get started’ by answering questions about your photos. Google Photos will present images to you and you type what you consider important in each of the selected images. The first batch includes 10 images, but you can skip images or do more if you’d like.

After the labeling exercise, you can participate in additional training exercises, including one in which you determine if certain photographs are worthy of being printed. This is an interesting task given that Google Photos recently began offering a monthly premium print subscription. This subscription sends users 10 photo prints per month for $6.99, shipping included. Another addition to Google Photos includes asking users to identify which photos show a certain holiday or event.

9to5Google links to a Google Photos Help document about the latest addition to the Google Photos app. In its document, Google states that ‘It may take time to see your contributions impact your account, but your input will help improve existing features and build new ones, like improved suggestions on which photos to print or higher quality creations that you would like.’ As of now, this feature is only available on Android devices.