Google is once again sharing its state-of-art artificial intelligence with the rest of the world.
Today at an event in San Francisco, the company unveiled a new family of cloud computing services that allow any developer or business to use the machine learning technologies that power some of Google’s most powerful services. Inside Google, these artificial intelligence systems deftly identify images inside apps like Google Photos; recognize commands spoken into Android Phones; and significantly improve the Google Internet search engine. Now others will be able to use them for many of the same purposes. During a lengthy keynote speech meant to highlight the company’s entire suite of cloud services—services it sees as an enormously important part of its future—Google new application programming interfaces (APIs) for identifying images, recognizing speech, and translating from one language to another, among other services.
The move is part of a widespread shift in the tech industry towards deep learning, a form of artificial intelligence that allows machines to learn tasks by analyzing vast amounts of digital data. Companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter have also made huge strides in the field, and many are openly sharing their technologies with others. This past fall, Google open sourced TensorFlow, the software engine that drives its deep neural networks. Microsoft has offered cloud services based on similar technologies. And now Google has done much the same. “This is the next transformation,” said Google chairman Eric Schmidt said on stage at today’s event.