Masked Autoencoding Does Not Help Natural Language Supervision at Scale

Self supervision and natural language supervision have emerged as two exciting ways to train general purpose image encoders which excel at a variety of downstream tasks. Recent works such as M3AE and SLIP have suggested that these approaches can be effectively combined, but most notably their results use small pre-training datasets (<50M samples) and don't effectively reflect the large-scale regime (>100M examples) that is commonly used for these approaches. Here we investigate whether a similar approach can be effective when trained with a much larger amount of data. We find that a combination of two state of the art approaches: masked auto-encoders, MAE and contrastive language image pre-training, CLIP provides a benefit over CLIP when trained on a corpus of 11.3M image-text pairs, but little to no benefit (as evaluated on a suite of common vision tasks) over CLIP when trained on a large corpus of 1.4B images. Our work provides some much needed clarity into the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of self supervision for large-scale image-text training.

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