A Cartel of Influential Datasets Is Dominating Machine Learning Research, New Study Suggests

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A new paper from the University of California and Google Research has found that a small number of'benchmark' machine learning datasets, largely from influential western institutions, and frequently from government organizations, are increasingly dominating the AI research sector. The researchers conclude that this tendency to'default' to highly popular open source datasets, such as ImageNet, brings up a number of practical, ethical and even political causes for concern. Among their findings – based on core data from the Facebook-led community project Papers With Code (PWC) – the authors contend that'widely-used datasets are introduced by only a handful of elite institutions', and that this'consolidation' has increased to 80% in recent years. '[We] find that there is increasing inequality in dataset usage globally, and that more than 50% of all dataset usages in our sample of 43,140 corresponded to datasets introduced by twelve elite, primarily Western, institutions.' Criteria for inclusion is where the institution or company accounts for more than 50% of known usages.