Expect Deeper and Cheaper Machine Learning

Photo-illustration: Edmon de Haro Last March, Google’s computers roundly beat the world-class Go champion Lee Sedol, marking a milestone in artificial intelligence. The winning computer program, created by researchers at Google DeepMind in London, used an artificial neural network that took advantage of what’s known as deep learning, a strategy by which neural networks involving many layers of processing are configured in an automated fashion to solve the problem at hand. Unknown to the public at the time was that Google had an ace up its sleeve. You see, the computers Google used to defeat Sedol contained special-purpose hardware—a computer card Google calls its Tensor Processing Unit. Norm Jouppi, a hardware engineer at Google, announced the existence of the Tensor Processing Unit two months after the Go match, explaining in a…


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