Neural networks, which allow machines to learn in a similar way to the brain, have until recently mostly been the preserve of academia.
Now though Ersatz Labs has announced the launch from beta of its deep learning platform to allow businesses to benefit from the technology.
Ersatz is a deep learning platform that's available either as a cloud service or as a deep learning "appliance", a combination of neural network hardware and software geared toward large enterprises. Companies can use Ersatz to build and deploy neural networks so they can benefit from recent breakthroughs in the field without needing to hire neural network experts.
Neural networks are complex technology and the people who understand how they work are rare. Ersatz allows companies to automate and simplify many deep learning tasks, hiding the complex workings of the neural network behind an easy-to-use web interface and API.
After choosing a business specific objective, a company collects historical data related to the problem at hand, uploads this data, and instructs Ersatz to learn from it. After a "training" period, during which the neural network "learns" from the data, it will be able to make predictions about future results based on the examples it's been fed.
It uses Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to allow it to crunch numbers up to 40 times faster than their CPU-based counterparts. The cloud version charges a per-minute fee for the training phase making it accessible to organisations that wouldn't be able to justify running the technology in house.
"Machine learning has reached a major inflection point thanks to deep learning. Making this technology available with a platform like Ersatz will open up a whole new class of intelligent software," says Dave Sullivan, co-founder and CEO of Ersatz Labs.
"We're a long way from the type of machine intelligence we see in movies, but we’re a short way from some truly amazing applications that will only increase the importance and impact of data in our lives. I see neural computing - and deep learning specifically - as a major competitive advantage for companies in the near term. Long term, the technology will become ubiquitous".
Today's launch sees Ersatz emerge from a year-long beta during which over 2,200 customers signed up to use the platform. Users range from financial analysts and medical researchers to energy suppliers. You can find out more and take a product tour on the Ersatz Labs site.