Google releases its artificial intelligence software into the wild


Sophie Curtis

November 11, 2015

Google is open-sourcing its machine learning system, TensorFlow, in the hope that it will accelerate research into artificial intelligence

Google has announced that it is releasing its artificial intelligence software into the wild, allowing third-party developers to contribute to its evolution.

Artificial intelligence – or what Google describes as “machine learning” – is making computers and gadgets smarter every day.

From image recognition to voice translation and noise cancellation, Google uses machine learning in many of its products, and has pumped a huge amount of its research and development budget into improving these systems.

Earlier this year, for example, Google engineers released the bizarre results of an artificial intelligence experiment, which saw photos interpreted and edited by the company’s “neural network”, which has been trained to detect faces and other patterns in images.

The latest iteration of its machine learning system is known as TensorFlow, which Google claims is faster, smarter and more flexible than its predecessor, DistBelief, which Google used to demonstrate that concepts like “cat” could be learned from unlabeled YouTube images.

“We use TensorFlow for everything from speech recognition in the Google app, to Smart Reply in Inbox, to search in Google Photos,” said Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google, in a blog post . “It’s a highly scalable machine learning system – it can run on a single smartphone or across thousands of computers in data centres.”

However, even with all the progress Google has made with machine learning, it admits that it could still work much better.

Computers today still can’t do what a four-year-old can do effortlessly, like knowing the name of a dinosaur after seeing only a couple examples, or understanding that “I saw the Grand Canyon flying to Chicago” doesn’t mean the canyon is hurtling over the city.

This is why the company is “open-sourcing” the system, allowing third-party developers to access the raw computer code, adapt it, and start using it in their own applications.

“We’ve seen firsthand what TensorFlow can do, and we think it could make an even bigger impact outside Google. So today we’re also open-sourcing TensorFlow,” said Mr Pichai.

“We hope this will let the machine learning community – everyone from academic researchers, to engineers, to hobbyists – exchange ideas much more quickly, through working code rather than just research papers. And that, in turn, will accelerate research on machine learning, in the end making technology work better for everyone.”

He added that TensorFlow may be useful wherever researchers are trying to make sense of very complex data, from protein folding to crunching astronomy data.

The news comes as new research released by online marketing technology company Rocket Fuel, reveals that almost twice as many people believe artificial intelligence can solve big world problems compared to those who think it is a threat to humanity.

Stephen Hawking has famously been quoted as saying that the rise of artificial intelligence could see the human race become extinct, warning that technology will eventually ”supersede” humanity, as it develops faster than biological evolution.

However, the research reveals that only 21 per cent of Britons see artificial intelligence as a threat or are scared by it, while 42 per cent are excited or think it can solve big world problems.

Meanwhile, despite reports that thousands of British jobs have already been replaced by machines, only 9 per cent of people believe that artificial intelligence will threaten their job, while 10 per cent think it will enhance it.

This article was written by Sophie Curtis from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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