Pienso creates AI model training tools without coding requirements

“So much of the AI conversation has been dominated by … large language models,” Jones said, “but the reality is that no one model can do everything. Pienso believes that any domain expert, not just an AI engineer, should be able to do just that.”Pienso guides users through the process of annotating or labeling training data for pre-tuned open source or custom AI models. “Pienso’s flexible, no-code interface allows teams to train models directly using their own company’s data,” Jones said. “This alleviates the privacy concerns of using … models, and also is more accurate, capturing the nuances of each individual company.”Companies pay Pienso a yearly license based on the number of AI models they deploy. It’s fostering a future where we’re building smarter AI models for a specific application, by the people who are most familiar with the problems they are trying to solve.”

The Ever-Evolving Landscape of AI Deployment

The Ever-Evolving Landscape of AI Deployment

AI may be the “it thing” of the moment, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s getting any easier to deploy. Despite its buzz and potential, it seems that AI deployment remains a slow and challenging process for many businesses.

According to a 2023 S&P Global survey, approximately half of companies with at least one AI project in production are still at the pilot or proof-of-concept stages. And while there are a variety of reasons for this slow progress, the most commonly cited challenges include data management, security, and limited compute resources.

Surprisingly, about half of the businesses surveyed stated that they aren’t even ready to implement AI and won’t be for another five years or more. However, there is hope on the horizon in the form of up-and-coming startups and established tech giants who are all determined to overcome the roadblocks to AI deployment. Examples of these companies include Google’s ML Hub, Kore.ai, and Viso to name a few.

One of the newer players in this market is Pienso, a platform that allows users to build and deploy AI models without the need for extensive coding. Founded in 2016 by Birago Jones and Karthik Dinakar, both MIT alumni, Pienso is built upon their extensive research at MIT’s Media Lab. Jones and Dinakar first met as graduate students and joined forces on a class project to create a tool that would help social media platforms identify and flag bullying content. However, they quickly realized that their model was missing a key piece – it was not trained on the appropriate data and could not accurately identify harmful content written in teenage slang.

After much trial and error, Jones and Dinakar discovered that the solution was to have subject-matter experts, in this case, actual teenagers, assist with training their model. This experience led them to develop tools to aid in this process, and eventually, they joined forces again to commercialize these tools, resulting in the birth of Pienso.

Jones, now serving as Pienso’s CEO, describes the platform as an AI suite built specifically for “non-technical talent.” In other words, for researchers, marketers, and customer support teams who have access to vast amounts of data for AI training but lack the resources and expertise to structure and analyze it.

“The current AI conversation is dominated by large language models, but the reality is that no single model can do it all,” states Jones. “In order to fully utilize AI’s potential in managing business processes and interacting with customers, it’s essential to have the ability to train and fine-tune your AI model. Pienso believes that any domain expert, not just an AI engineer, should have the capability to do just that.”

Pienso’s platform guides users through the process of annotating or labeling training data for pre-tuned open source or custom AI models. This process is crucial as AI models typically require these labels to learn and perform specific tasks. The platform can be deployed in both cloud and on-premises environments and seamlessly integrates with a company’s existing systems through APIs. However, it also has the ability to operate independently, ensuring sensitive data remains secure within its own environment.

Pienso has already proven its usefulness to a variety of companies. Sky, a popular UK broadcaster, is utilizing the platform to analyze customer service calls. An unnamed U.S. government agency has also tested Pienso in monitoring the tracking of illegal weapons.

Jones explains, “Pienso’s flexible, no-code interface empowers teams to train models directly using their own company’s data, addressing privacy concerns often associated with other models. Additionally, this results in more accurate models, as it captures the unique nuances of each individual company.”

Companies pay Pienso a yearly license based on the number of AI models they deploy. The more models a company utilizes, the higher the licensing cost. However, Pienso has purposely designed their pricing structure to allow companies the opportunity to test out models beforehand, enabling them to fully understand the potential of AI without making a significant upfront investment.

And it seems that this business model has caught the attention of investors. Pienso recently raised $10 million in a Series A funding round led by Latimer Ventures, with participation from Gideon Capital, SRI, Uncork, and Good Growth Capital.

Luke Cooper, of Latimer Ventures, shares the reasoning behind their investment: “We constantly hear about the need to democratize AI, but what sets Pienso apart is their approach to including domain experts in the equation. By empowering those who know their data best, they can unlock the full potential of their AI insights. Pienso is paving the way for a future where smarter, more specific AI models can be built by the individuals who have the best understanding of the problems they are trying to solve.”

This influx of funding, bringing Pienso’s total raised to $17 million, will be used to scale up their sales, marketing, and customer success teams, as well as to recruit top engineering talent and develop new features for the platform. With their unique approach and innovative technology, it’s clear that Pienso is poised to lead the charge in revolutionizing AI deployment for businesses of all sizes.

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Ava Patel

Ava Patel is a cultural critic and commentator with a focus on literature and the arts. She is known for her thought-provoking essays and reviews, and has a talent for bringing new and diverse voices to the forefront of the cultural conversation.

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