Netflix has announced that it is making a big investment in “deep learning,” an artificial intelligence (AI) technique used to mimic the reasoning of the human brain. The goal of this effort is to improve their recommendations engine and make it even better at predicting what you want to watch next, based on far more nuanced data than simply the genres or actors you like.
But Netflix is far from the first consumer-facing tech company to invest in AI learning. In fact, a new series of reports from Cooper Smith at BI Intelligence finds that the big-name social networks have also been making a heavy push into big data learning lately.
The reports look at the kinds of data the different social networks will be processing and the ways in which they will begin to incorporate AI techniques into how they learn about users’ behaviours and interests, and then feed that data back into the content and advertising they show individuals.
From the report on social big data and AI:
Facebook ingests approximately 500 times more data each day than the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), according to Booz & Co. Twitter is storing at least 12 times more data each day than the NYSE. But the reality of social media big data is that only a tiny fraction of its potential is currently being realised.
To begin capturing and using that data, consumer Internet companies are racing to build out their AI talent. Some of the major acquisitions cited by Smith:
- Facebook launched a new research lab dedicated entirely to advancing the field of AI. Deep learning expert Yann LeCun is directing the efforts of the lab.
- Google acquired DeepMind, a company that built learning algorithms for e-commerce, simulations, and games, for $US400 million. Google also hired deep learning pioneer Geoff Hinton to improve products such as Android voice search.
- LinkedIn acquired Bright, a company that focused on data- and algorithm-driven job matches, for $US120 million — its largest acquisition to date.
- Pinterest acquired VisualGraph, a company that specialised in image recognition and visual search. VisualGraph CEO Kevin Jang helped build Google’s first machine vision application to improve image search.
Like these social networks, Netflix is interested in serving the most relevant content to its users, and, with its recent foray into original content, anticipating what Netflix want to see in their next favourite series. AI will be the battleground where social networks and referral services that already have huge bases of users will now look to keep those users tuned in and more reliant than ever on the services they provide.