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Teach to identify causal relationships in nature

Main Project Information
Presented By Biomimicry Institute
Goal Train an AI to inspire life-friendly innovation
Task Identify basic concepts in short blocks of text.
Where Online only
Description is making it easier for people to share and organize biological literature so that it can be used to inspire innovators around the world as they search for resilient and regenerative solutions this century's greatest challenges. You can help by training a new learning algorithm to identify organism names and causal relationships from the abstracts of peer reviewed literature that describe how organisms and other living systems survive and thrive on Earth.

For the past several years our team has been investigating ways to improve the quality and breadth of ​the biology content available on One of the challenges we currently face is that the process of manually assigning functions and living systems to biological strategy records is time consuming and requires specialized knowledge. So earlier this year we started working with a small group of data scientists and programmers to automate these components of AskNature’s content generation process via several machine learning algorithms. If we’re successful, future content contributors will be able to quickly select from ranked lists of suggestions rather than having to manually cull through options from long lists.

The suggestions this tool makes will only be as good as the associations we manually teach it, and with your help, we hope to generate enough associated data (upwards of 10,000 submissions) to get started.

Participating is easy; our colleagues have created a short online survey in which you’ll read the title and abstract of a biology article and then identify key concepts described therein. Each time you take this survey you’ll be training this algorithm to make associations accurately and consistently.

Each time you take the survey you’ll be shown the title and abstract from a peer reviewed article that may be appropriate to include on AskNature. If it is relevant, you’ll be asked to identify relevant functions and living systems, and copy/paste the phrases that led you to make those associations. If it’s not relevant you should still submit, since we’re also teaching the algorithm to distinguish between text that may be useful vs text that isn’t.

How to Join

Read our training materials and then take a short survey that's available to the general public. That's it!

Project Timing Our goal is to collect 10,000 submissions by the end of August, 2017. Help us get there by making as many submissions as you have time for! Once we've adequately trained this algorithm, it will be used to make it much faster and easier to grow our indexed content at, a leading online resource for biologically inspired design.
Social Media
Ideal Age Group Middle school (11 - 13 years), High school (14 - 17 years), College, Graduate students, Adults, Families, Seniors
Ideal Frequency Every day
Average Time Less than an hour
Spend the Time indoors
Type of Activity On a lunch break, Exclusively online, At school, At night, At home
Training Materials
Tags abstract, ai, article, artificial intelligence, biological, biologist, biology, biomimicry, comprehension, literature, machine learning, natural language processing, online, paper
Project Updated 09/14/2017