Microsoft's John Platt Talks About Artificial Intelligence

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

 Artificial Intelligence
Microsoft Distinguished Scientist John Platt recently sat down the the company's Channel 9 to discuss his work in artificial intelligence and deep learning, and how this is now affecting products like Cortana and Project Adam.

Microsoft researcher John Platt has a lot of enthusiasm for artificial intelligence and machine learning. Platt coined the name "convolutional network". As a Microsoft distinguished scientist and deputy managing director of Microsoft Research Redmond, Platt has been working in AI now for 32 years.

In the video above from Microsoft's Channel 9, Platt tells about the work done on Cortana as well as Project Adam. Platt talks about some of history of AI in computer science, going back to Alan Turing.

"I would define artificial intelligence as software that is trying to emulate the human mind."

Platt explains the intertwined terms, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

"I would define artificial intelligence as software that is trying to emulate the human mind," he says. "That's often specific to a domain like, computers that can see - that's computer vision, or computers that can hear, like speech recognition."

"Then there are a series of specific techniques, which are machine learning," Platt continues.  "In machine learning, the techniques turn a data set into software. It is a soft of alternative way of programming."

John Platt

Deep Learning, Platt goes on is a kind of machine learning that addresses the so-called "problem of representation," where computers do not require human coding of data, like pixels into images. The reason it is called 'deep learning,' is that each layer of representation builds upon the previous ones, so that, as the system goes deeper, the representation becomes clearer.

When asked what the difference between Cortana and a search engine is Platt says that Cortana is a "dialogue system."  Platt, also talks about the deep learning components that now make up the Bing search engine.

Cortana Windows Phone

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He then talks about Project Adam, large-scale, commodity distributed systems can train huge deep neural networks. "Trishul [Chilimbi] and I are speculating about what kinds of amazing things we can build with Project Adam; what kind of large-scale systems can we build?"

Platt started his PhD at Caltech at age 18. According to Yann LeCun, Facebook's head of artificial intelligence, "John is one of the few people who never ceased to believe in neural nets (despite his hugely influential work on SVM [support vector machine]), and one of the few people to have played with convolutional nets back in the 1990's."

"So he knows a thing or two about deep learning," states LeCun.

SOURCE  Microsoft's Channel 9

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