The framework, called, CNTK, is based on a branch of artificial intelligence called deep learning, which seeks to help machines do things like recognize photos and videos or understanding human speech by mimicking the structure and functions of the human brain. Tech giants like Microsoft, Google and Facebook have invested heavily in deep learning research for years, going so far as to hire many of academics who pioneered the field. Now, just as academics publish their research so that it can be critiqued and advanced by other researchers, these companies are releasing their deep learning software in much the same way
Last year Google open sourced its artificial intelligence engine TensorFlow, which the company uses for many of its own applications, including voice recognition in Android and even its flagship search engine. Soon after, Facebook open sourced designs for custom hardware designed to run the latest AI algorithms and China’s largest search engine, Baidu, open sourced its the artificial intelligence training software.
Microsoft actually released CNTK, which is similar in many ways to Google’s TensorFlow, back in April, months before Google released its own framework, but the code was restricted to non-commercial use. Now Microsoft is letting anyone, including corporations, use CNTK for whatever they want. “We want this to be useful not just for academics but for commercial artificial intelligence and deep learning companies,” says Xuedong Huang, Microsoft’s chief speech scientist.