PASS: An ImageNet replacement for self-supervised pretraining without humans

Part of Proceedings of the Neural Information Processing Systems Track on Datasets and Benchmarks 1 (NeurIPS Datasets and Benchmarks 2021) round1

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Yuki Asano, Christian Rupprecht, Andrew Zisserman, Andrea Vedaldi


Computer vision has long relied on ImageNet and other large datasets of images sampled from the Internet for pretraining models. However, these datasets have ethical and technical shortcomings, such as containing personal information taken without consent, unclear license usage, biases, and, in some cases, even problematic image content. On the other hand, state-of-the-art pretraining is nowadays obtained with unsupervised methods, meaning that labelled datasets such as ImageNet may not be necessary, or perhaps not even optimal, for model pretraining. We thus propose an unlabelled dataset PASS: Pictures without humAns for Self-Supervision. PASS only contains images with CC-BY license and complete attribution metadata, addressing the copyright issue. Most importantly, it contains no images of people at all, and also avoids other types of images that are problematic for data protection or ethics. We show that PASS can be used for pretraining with methods such as MoCo-v2, SwAV and DINO. In the transfer learning setting, it yields similar downstream performances to ImageNet pretraining even on tasks that involve humans, such as human pose estimation. PASS does not make existing datasets obsolete, as for instance it is insufficient for benchmarking. However, it shows that model pretraining is often possible while using safer data, and it also provides the basis for a more robust evaluation of pretraining methods.