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Visual semantic search for a million NFTs with Alchemy, OpenAI's CLIP & Pinecone — easy as A⁠-⁠P⁠-⁠E!

A gif showing bounding box drawn over the image of a cougar in a dark forest

It was Spring '22. The snow was meltin', the birds were singin', and my fellow ape Xi Chen was deep in the rabbit hole of crypto & NFTs. As he navigated this labyrinth, he often found himself screaming "ooooo-oo-ah-ah-oooo" which is ape-speak for — "Yo, why can't I simply search for NFTs by describing what's in the image". Why? I can only speculate but I presume he wanted to search for something like "ape driving a lambo". I mean, I know that's what I'd do! As a bonus, if there were none, when we did get our first Lambo trading NFTs, we could sell a picture of us driving it as an NFT to get a second Lambo! An ape can dream!

Building a simple AI-powered, human-in-the-loop system to manage wildlife camera trap images & annotations

A gif showing bounding box drawn over the image of a cougar in a dark forest Cougar in Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve by Felidae Conservation Fund

In the summer of 2021, after three years of volunteering with Code Nation as an instructor and a brief stint with Code for SF, I was ready for something new! Wading through the web on a mission to find a new nonprofit, I stumbled onto a LinkedIn post from Felidae Conservation Fund. As their name suggested, they were a wildlife research & conservation organization that studied wild cats, specifically mountain lions. For someone who grew up on David Attenborough, the word "conservation" alone was enough to spark a sense of excitement but when I learned that they needed a cloud-based AI solution to improve their data pipelines, I was sold!

In this post, I briefly chronicle my journey designing and building this AI-powered, human-in-the-loop system to manage Felidae's camera trap images & annotations. If you're interested in the role of technology in wildlife conservation, building computer vision applications or working with nonprofits, you might find this post useful. If you want a high-level overview before jumping into this post, you can also check out this slide deck.