Automate Data Labeling - Amazon SageMaker

Automate Data Labeling

If you choose, Amazon SageMaker Ground Truth can use active learning to automate the labeling of your input data for certain built-in task types. Active learning is a machine learning technique that identifies data that should be labeled by your workers. In Ground Truth, this functionality is called automated data labeling. Automated data labeling helps to reduce the cost and time that it takes to label your dataset compared to using only humans. When you use automated labeling, you incur SageMaker training and inference costs.

We recommend using automated data labeling on large datasets because the neural networks used with active learning require a significant amount of data for every new dataset. Typically, as you provide more data, the potential for high accuracy predictions goes up. Data will only be auto-labeled if the neural network used in the auto-labeling model can achieve an acceptably high level of accuracy. Therefore, with larger datasets, there is more potential to automatically label the data because the neural network can achieve high enough accuracy for auto-labeling. Automated data labeling is most appropriate when you have thousands of data objects. The minimum number of objects allowed for automated data labeling is 1,250, but we strongly suggest providing a minimum of 5,000 objects.

Automated data labeling is available only for the following Ground Truth built-in task types:

Streaming labeling jobs do not support automated data labeling.

To learn how to create a custom active learning workflow using your own model, see Set up an active learning workflow with your own model.

Input data quotas apply for automated data labeling jobs. See Input Data Quotas for information about dataset size, input data size and resolution limits.


Before you use an the automated-labeling model in production, you need to fine-tune or test it, or both. You might fine-tune the model (or create and tune another supervised model of your choice) on the dataset produced by your labeling job to optimize the model’s architecture and hyperparameters. If you decide to use the model for inference without fine-tuning it, we strongly recommend making sure that you evaluate its accuracy on a representative (for example, randomly selected) subset of the dataset labeled with Ground Truth and that it matches your expectations.

How it Works

You enable automated data labeling when you create a labeling job. This is how it works:

  1. When Ground Truth starts an automated data labeling job, it selects a random sample of input data objects and sends them to human workers. If more than 10% of these data objects fail, the labeling job will fail. If the labeling job fails, in addition to reviewing any error message Ground Truth returns, check that your input data is displaying correctly in the worker UI, instructions are clear, and that you have given workers enough time to complete tasks.

  2. When the labeled data is returned, it is used to create a training set and a validation set. Ground Truth uses these datasets to train and validate the model used for auto-labeling.

  3. Ground Truth runs a batch transform job, using the validated model for inference on the validation data. Batch inference produces a confidence score and quality metric for each object in the validation data.

  4. The auto labeling component will use these quality metrics and confidence scores to create a confidence score threshold that ensures quality labels.

  5. Ground Truth runs a batch transform job on the unlabeled data in the dataset, using the same validated model for inference. This produces a confidence score for each object.

  6. The Ground Truth auto labeling component determines if the confidence score produced in step 5 for each object meets the required threshold determined in step 4. If the confidence score meets the threshold, the expected quality of automatically labeling exceeds the requested level of accuracy and that object is considered auto-labeled.

  7. Step 6 produces a dataset of unlabeled data with confidence scores. Ground Truth selects data points with low confidence scores from this dataset and sends them to human workers.

  8. Ground Truth uses the existing human-labeled data and this additional labeled data from human workers to update the model.

  9. The process is repeated until the dataset is fully labeled or until another stopping condition is met. For example, auto-labeling stops if your human annotation budget is reached.

The preceding steps happen in iterations. Select each tab in the following table to see an example of the processes that happen in each iteration for an object detection automated labeling job. The number of data objects used in a given step in these images (for example, 200) is specific to this example. If there are fewer than 5,000 objects to label, the validation set size is 20% of the whole dataset. If there are more than 5,000 objects in your input dataset, the validation set size is 10% of the whole dataset. You can control the number of human labels collected per active learning iteration by changing the value for MaxConcurrentTaskCount when using the API operation CreateLabelingJob. This value is set to 1,000 when you create a labeling job using the console. In the active learning flow illustrated under the Active Learning tab, this value is set to 200.

Model Training
Automated Labeling
Active Learning

Accuracy of Automated Labels

The definition of accuracy depends on the built-in task type that you use with automated labeling. For all task types, these accuracy requirements are pre-determined by Ground Truth and cannot be manually configured.

  • For image classification and text classification, Ground Truth uses logic to find a label-prediction confidence level that corresponds to at least 95% label accuracy. This means Ground Truth expects the accuracy of the automated labels to be at least 95% when compared to the labels that human labelers would provide for those examples.

  • For bounding boxes, the expected mean Intersection Over Union (IoU) of the auto-labeled images is 0.6. To find the mean IoU, Ground Truth calculates the mean IoU of all the predicted and missed boxes on the image for every class, and then averages these values across classes.

  • For semantic segmentation, the expected mean IoU of the auto-labeled images is 0.7. To find the mean IoU, Ground Truth takes the mean of the IoU values of all the classes in the image (excluding the background).

At every iteration of Active Learning (steps 3-6 in the list above), the confidence threshold is found using the human-annotated validation set so that the expected accuracy of the auto-labeled objects satisfies certain predefined accuracy requirements.

Create an Automated Data Labeling Job (Console)

To create a labeling job that uses automated labeling in the SageMaker console, use the following procedure.

To create an automated data labeling job (console)
  1. Open the Ground Truth Labeling jobs section of the SageMaker console:

  2. Using Create a Labeling Job (Console) as a guide, complete the Job overview and Task type sections. Note that auto labeling is not supported for custom task types.

  3. Under Workers, choose your workforce type.

  4. In the same section, choose Enable automated data labeling.

  5. Using Step 4: Configure the Bounding Box Tool as a guide, create worker instructions in the section Task Type labeling tool. For example, if you chose Semantic segmentation as your labeling job type, this section is called Semantic segmentation labeling tool.

  6. To preview your worker instructions and dashboard, choose Preview.

  7. Choose Create. This creates and starts your labeling job and the auto labeling process.

You can see your labeling job appear in the Labeling jobs section of the SageMaker console. Your output data appears in the Amazon S3 bucket that you specified when creating the labeling job. For more information about the format and file structure of your labeling job output data, see Output Data.

Create an Automated Data Labeling Job (API)

To create an automated data labeling job using the SageMaker API, use the LabelingJobAlgorithmsConfig parameter of the CreateLabelingJob operation. To learn how to start a labeling job using the CreateLabelingJob operation, see Create a Labeling Job (API).

Specify the Amazon Resource Name (ARN) of the algorithm that you are using for automated data labeling in the LabelingJobAlgorithmSpecificationArn parameter. Choose from one of the four Ground Truth built-in algorithms that are supported with automated labeling:

When an automated data labeling job finishes, Ground Truth returns the ARN of the model it used for the automated data labeling job. Use this model as the starting model for similar auto-labeling job types by providing the ARN, in string format, in the InitialActiveLearningModelArn parameter. To retrieve the model's ARN, use an AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI) command similar to the following.

# Fetch the mARN of the model trained in the final iteration of the previous labeling job.Ground Truth pretrained_model_arn = sagemaker_client.describe_labeling_job(LabelingJobName=job_name)['LabelingJobOutput']['FinalActiveLearningModelArn']

To encrypt data on the storage volume attached to the ML compute instance(s) that are used in automated labeling, include an AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) key in the VolumeKmsKeyId parameter. For information about AWS KMS keys, see What is AWS Key Management Service? in the AWS Key Management Service Developer Guide.

For an example that uses the CreateLabelingJob operation to create an automated data labeling job, see the object_detection_tutorial example in the SageMaker Examples, Ground Truth Labeling Jobs section of a SageMaker notebook instance. To learn how to create and open a notebook instance, see Create an Amazon SageMaker notebook instance. To learn how to access SageMaker example notebooks, see Example Notebooks.

Amazon EC2 Instances Required for Automated Data Labeling

The following table lists the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances that you need to run automated data labeling for training and batch inference jobs.

Automated Data Labeling Job Type Training Instance Type Inference Instance Type

Image classification



Object detection (bounding box)



Text classification



Semantic segmentation



* In the Asia Pacific (Mumbai) Region (ap-south-1) use ml.p2.8xlarge instead.

Ground Truth manages the instances that you use for automated data labeling jobs. It creates, configures, and terminates the instances as needed to perform your job. These instances don't appear in your Amazon EC2 instance dashboard.

Set up an active learning workflow with your own model

You can create an active learning workflow with your own algorithm to run training and inferences in that workflow to auto-label your data. The notebook bring_your_own_model_for_sagemaker_labeling_workflows_with_active_learning.ipynb demonstrates this using the SageMaker built-in algorithm, BlazingText. This notebook provides an AWS CloudFormation stack that you can use to execute this workflow using AWS Step Functions. You can find the notebook and supporting files in this GitHub repository.

You can also find this notebook in the SageMaker Examples repository. See Use Example Notebooks to learn how to find an Amazon SageMaker example notebook.