Why Google Is Willing to Give Away Its Latest Machine-Learning Software

Google researcher Jeff Dean unveiled the company’s open-source machine learning system TensorFlow on Nov. 9, 2015. Google Inc. Google’s move to give away its latest machine-learning software, key to its speech- and photo-recognition programs, isn’t as crazy as it may appear. The unit of Alphabet Inc. said Monday it is releasing its TensorFlow system for free under an open-source license.  That’s one of the company’s crown jewels, a machine-learning program that teaches computers to be smarter. But Google retains much of what makes its machine-learning effort special: massive piles of data, a powerful network of computers to run the software and a big team of artificial-intelligence experts to tweak the algorithms. “It’s not a suicidal idea to release this,” said Nello Cristianini, a professor of artificial intelligence at the U.K.’s…


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