Google has long been ahead of the curve on artificial intelligence (AI), and things just got a lot more interesting.
Today, the tech giant released TensorFlow, a new AI system that’s used in everything from recognising speech on a noisy footpath to finding photos of your pet dog Fluffy.
And in a rare move for Google, it’s making its software open source, meaning anyone can access and edit the code.
The software passes complex data structures, or tensors, through a neural network, or artificial brain, hence the name Tensor Flow. This process is a core part of deep learning, a powerful AI tool that is used in many of Google’s products.
Google says the new program is five times faster than its first-generation system, and can be run on thousands of computers or a single smartphone. Google uses it in everything from Search to Photos to Inbox. For example, it’s what lets Google Translate detect foreign words on a street sign and translate them in real-time, as shown above.
The reason for making TensorFlow open source is to spur innovation and make it easier for researchers to share their ideas and code, a Google spokesperson told Business Insider.
Currently, Google has only released a version of the new technology that runs on a single machine, but it plans to release a multiple-machine version in the future, the spokesman said.
But Google is not making everything open source. “It’s sharing only some of the algorithms that run atop the engine. And it’s not sharing access to the remarkably advanced hardware infrastructure that drives this engine,” Wired’s Cade Metz reported.
According to Google, TensorFlow can also be used for other types of machine learning, or for things you might use a supercomputer for — from protein folding to analysing astronomy data.
“We’ve seen firsthand what TensorFlow can do, and we think it could make an even bigger impact outside Google,” the company wrote on its blog. “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.”
Google made this YouTube video describing what TensorFlow is:
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