When you hire a freelancer to write a mobile app, that person likely has written many apps before. They will have a good handle on how long the project would take, or how much they need to charge you to make a profit.
Research and development projects are rather different, because with those you never know how long the research part would take before you come up with anything useful. Managing R&D projects is difficult, outsourcing is even worse (but, none of those is impossible).
Most artificial intelligence projects you’d want to do these days are heavily front-loaded. A lot of thought and effort has to be put into the first iterations, and you’ll only get to see the result much later. Even the simplest and most generic recommendation engine can be derailed by a perfectly normal looking site’s perfectly clean data, if that particular niche or traffic is less predictable than others.
Artificial intelligence projects mostly fall in the R&D category then, which is alright because yours truly just wrote an advice piece on Managing outsourced machine learning projects. Read it over at the RemoteML blog.
We are also happy to give advice to companies manage outsourced R&D, so do feel free to give us a call!