Average Jane, Where Art Thou? – Recent Avenues in Efficient Machine Learning under Subjectivity Uncertainty

In machine learning tasks an actual ‘ground truth’ may not be available. Then, machines often have to rely on human labelling of data. This becomes challenging the more subjective the learning task is, as human agreement can be low. To cope with the resulting high uncertainty, one could train individual models reflecting a single human’s opinion. However, this is not viable, if one aims at mirroring the general opinion of a hypothetical ‘completely average person’ — the ‘average Jane’. Here, I summarise approaches to optimally learn efficiently in such a case. First, different strategies of reaching a single learning target from several labellers will be discussed. This includes varying labeller trustability and the case of time-continuous labels with potential dynamics. As human labelling is a labour-intensive endeavour, active and cooperative learning strategies can help reduce the number of labels needed. Next, sample informativeness can be exploited in teacher-based algorithms to additionally weigh data by certainty. In addition, multi-target learning of different labeller tracks in parallel and/or of the uncertainty can help improve the model robustness and provide an additional uncertainty measure. Cross-modal strategies to reduce uncertainty offer another view. From these and further recent strategies, I distil a number of future avenues to handle subjective uncertainty in machine learning. These comprise bigger, yet weakly labelled data processing basing amongst other on reinforcement learning, lifelong learning, and self-learning. Illustrative examples stem from the fields of Affective Computing and Digital Health — both notoriously marked by subjectivity uncertainty.

Björn W. Schuller received his diploma, doctoral degree, habilitation, and Adjunct Teaching Professor in Machine Intelligence and Signal Processing all in EE/IT from TUM in Munich/Germany. He is Full Professor of Artificial Intelligence and the Head of GLAM at Imperial College London/UK, Full Professor and Chair of Embedded Intelligence for Health Care and Wellbeing at the University of Augsburg/Germany, co-founding CEO and current CSO of audEERING – an Audio Intelligence company based near Munich and in Berlin/Germany, and permanent Visiting Professor at HIT/China amongst other Professorships and Affiliations. Previous stays include Full Professor at the University of Passau/Germany, and Researcher at Joanneum Research in Graz/Austria, and the CNRS-LIMSI in Orsay/France.

He is a Fellow of the IEEE, Fellow of the ISCA, Golden Core Awardee of the IEEE Computer Society, President-Emeritus of the AAAC, and Senior Member of the ACM. He (co-)authored 900+ publications (h-index=79), is Field Chief Editor of Frontiers in Digital Health and was Editor in Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, General Chair of ACII 2019, ACII Asia 2018, and ACM ICMI 2014, and a Program Chair of Interspeech 2019, ACM ICMI 2019/2013, ACII 2015/2011, and IEEE SocialCom 2012 amongst manifold further commitments and service to the community. His 40+ awards include having been honoured as one of 40 extraordinary scientists under the age of 40 by the WEF in 2015. He served as Coordinator/PI in 15+ European Projects, is an ERC Starting Grantee, and consultant of companies such as Barclays, GN, Huawei, or Samsung.