Microsoft Cognitive Services push gains momentum

The machine-learned smarts that enable Microsoft’s Skype Translator, Bing and Cortana to accomplish tasks such as translating conversations, compiling knowledge and understanding the intent of spoken words are increasingly finding their way into third-party applications that people use every day.

These advances in the democratization of artificial intelligence are coming in part from Microsoft Cognitive Services, a collection of 25 tools that allow developers to add features such as emotion and sentiment detection, vision and speech recognition, and language understanding to their applications with zero expertise in machine learning.

“Cognitive Services is about taking all of the machine learning and AI smarts that we have in this company and exposing them to developers through easy-to-use APIs, so that they don’t have to invent the technology themselves,” said Mike Seltzer, a principal researcher in the Speech and Dialog Research Group at Microsoft’s research lab in Redmond, Washington.

“In most cases, it takes a ton of time, a ton of data, a ton of expertise, and a ton of compute to build a state-of-the-art machine-learned model,” he explained.