People power drives artificial intelligence in a surprising number of ways and for a wide variety of purposes. Here are just a few instances in which people play vital roles in helping machines learn things about the real world:


Self-driving cars

Users: Automakers such as Toyota, Nissan and Ford; ride-hailing firms like Uber and Waymo.

Tasks: Look at dashboard-camera photos and draw boxes around objects like cars; trace photo elements such as walls, light poles, bridges and lane markers; label every pixel with digital paint marking it as a street, car, stop sign, pedestrian or cyclist.


Facial recognition

Users: App makers, researchers

Tasks: Put dots where requested, including on the corners of eyes and mouths in a photo.


Audio transcription

Users: Digital assistants, call centers

Tasks: Transcribe what is said, from a single word to phrases.


Sentiment analysis

Users: Call centers, social media services

Tasks: Read text to determine if the words are abusive or threatening or if the writer is angry or frustrated, so that a manager can be alerted.


Image labeling

Users: Online marketplaces like eBay

Tasks: Categorize items such as shirts and dresses, determining their style, color and fit.