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March 29, 2018

Linux Foundation Launches Open AI Effort

( PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Shutterstock)

The Linux Foundation launched a deep learning initiative this week designed to create a “neutral space for harmonization and acceleration” of AI, machine learning and deep learning technologies. The initial focus will be an AI standardization effort.

The open source project called LF Deep Learning Foundation seeks to make the emerging AI technologies widely available to data scientists and developers, the group said during this week’s Open Networking Summit in Los Angeles.

Founding members include several Chinese technology giants that are pouring huge sums into AI research as part of a national strategy to dominate AI. They are: China’s search giant Baidu; networking giant Huawei (SHE: 002502); Tencent, often referred to as China’s Facebook; and telecommunications equipment vendor ZTE (SHE: 000063).

Other members include Amdocs, AT&T (NYSE: T), networking startup B.Yond, Indian IT services specialist Tech Mahindra (NSE: TECHM)

and workload management specialist Univa Corp.

Organizers said the group’s initial focus will be the Acumos AI Project also launched this week that aims to build an open source framework for AI model development and sharing. The “umbrella” organization also will support individual AI, machine learning and deep learning projects.

AI leader Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU), which has staked its future on advancing AI research, and Tencent (HKG: 0700) each said they intend to contribute projects to Linux initiative. “LF Deep Learning enables the open source community to support entire ecosystems of projects in these spaces,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation.

Acumos AI, the initial project supported by the deep learning group, aims to standardize the AI infrastructure stack and components to encourage the sharing of AI models and workflows. The goal is to allow data scientists and model trainers to focus on innovating by providing a turnkey AI development platform.

The Linux Foundation noted that many AI tools are difficult to implement and require significant domain expertise. Acumos would provide “a visual workflow to design AI and [machine learning] applications, as well as a marketplace for freely sharing AI solutions and data models,” it said.

AT&T and Tech Mahindra contributed the initial Acumos code.

Amdocs (NASDAQ: DOX), Chesterfield, Mo., a software and services vendor to media companies, said it would provide data tools and models to the deep learning initiative.

The open AI effort begins as China and other countries have released ambitious AI development strategies over the last year aimed at dominating the field. Those blueprints have prompted calls from U.S. groups to develop a national strategy designed to preserve the current U.S. lead in AI research.

As global competition heats up, the Linux Foundation initiative represents one of the first attempts at standardizing AI development tools while applying the open-source development model to an otherwise heated technological rivalry.

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