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Sekerci: Google’s TensorFlow, the next step for artificial intelligence

Burak Sekerci, Columnist

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Artificial intelligence is the next big technological leap for mankind. It is the next frontier in technology and will shape and change our lives entirely, bringing controversial issues with it.

In addition to advances Tesla’s new autopilot technology and the Apple Watch, alternative artificial intelligence platforms are being developed by big names in the industry. A major part of these artificial intelligence advancements came in a recent announcement that Google has created a new artificial intelligence engine called TensorFlow. Like Google’s Android software, the TensorFlow is open sourced, meaning the source code is open for anyone to edit and update. It looks like Google has achieved another magnificent engineering feat. The main takeaway from this situation is not that Google created an AI platform, but rather that Google created an AI platform and made it available to the millions of people who have access to a computer and an Internet connection.

By making this software available to so many users around the world, Google now has the upper hand on AI development over other tech companies. Right now, TensorFlow is the most powerful AI tool out in the market, and those interested in technology and AI will likely explore this software. Young engineers will be able to gain experience working with the TensorFlow software, and subsequently when they look for jobs in the AI field many engineers will already have experience. And those Google hires in the future will know the ins and outs of its AI software, benefitting the technological firm in addition to the prospective employees.

Additionally, Google has effectively donated a huge program to the AI community. It will allow AI to move forward even more quickly and more powerfully because anyone can access the source code. Researchers around the world will be able to create their own learning tools — AI is effectively a learning machine — and share with everyone. As a result, users can enjoy the AI software while researchers can use others’ advancements to enhance their own tools. Technological advancements are not done overnight, and it takes an incredible amount of energy to create these programs. With open source programs and platforms like the TensorFlow, these advancements can more easily become a reality.

We McCormick students are often advised that collaboration is good for everybody, especially in the engineering world. Google has just redefined collaboration by open sourcing its AI platform, a remarkably impactful decision by Google’s management team. The benefits of this open sourcing will come for Google, software users, engineers and the industry as a whole. This kind of collaborative decision-making will be the building block of a better, more intelligent future.

Burak Sekerci is a McCormick junior. He can be reached at buraksekerci2017@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com.

The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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