Truera applies explainability AI research to grow its model evaluation platform

As AI is applied in more industries and areas of society, there’s a growing league of startups focused on building testing tools for companies and governments to assess the state of their models and potential compliance issues and they might be on to something: Google Cloud chief AI scientist Andrew Moore recently predicted that the majority of the AI development pipeline will some day be made up of testing and validation. But, Truera, previously known as AILens, says it’s building a different kind of platform based on the research of cofounders Anupam Datta and Shayak Sen, whose explainability AI research considers causality and cooperative game theory as well as fairness and bias research.

Datta, who is on leave from his job as a professor at CMU, told VentureBeat the research that went into the creation of Truera began in 2014 when CMU researchers uncovered forms of gender bias in online advertising but lacked tools to understand how to measure that detected bias. The Truera platform can detect and help mitigate problems that occur in AI models, like bias imbalances, changes in data distribution that can impact predictions, or model stability over time, a feature that Datta said customers are using more as a result of anomalies brought on by COVID-19.

Datta says a core tenet of Truera’s approach is to consider models free of heavily weighted bias toward a specific demographic group not just more robust and capable, but also better for business.

“Even from that point, the thesis was that explainability is key to guard against social harms and to build higher quality models. It wasn’t like either-or,” Truera president and chief scientist Anupam Datta told VentureBeat in a phone interview. “In some ways, the same set of methods that let you delve deeper into models, how they are working, how do we assess or adopt them responsibly, are also the things that will help better quality models move into production, and therefore will also be good for the world and for business. These two requirements are not in conflict. They are well aligned.”

Today, Truera focuses on classification and regression models as well as deep neural networks like convolutional neural networks (CNN). The company does not provide services for some particular forms of AI today like recommendation algorithms.

In 2019, AI startup Truera raised a $5.1 million funding round to build and grow its service made to help businesses and governments understand decisions made by AI models and perform quality assessment evaluations.  Greylock Partners led the funding round with participation from Wing VC and Conversion Capital. The funding will be used to build the first version of the Truera product, assemble the company team, and launch the platform. Initial customers are focusing on the use of the platform for verification of compliance in highly regulated industries like banking or insurance.

Truera was founded in 2019. The company is based in Redwood City, California and has about 15 employees.

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