What sort of silicon brain do you need for artificial intelligence?

Using CPUs, GPUs, FGPAs and ASICS to make sense of AI The Raspberry Pi is one of the most exciting developments in hobbyist computing today. Across the world, people are using it to automate beer making, open up the world of robotics and revolutionise STEM education in a world overrun by film students. These are all laudable pursuits. Meanwhile, what is Microsoft doing with it? Creating squirrel-hunting water robots. Over at the firm’s Machine Learning and Optimization group, a researcher saw squirrels stealing flower bulbs and seeds from his bird feeder. The research team trained a computer vision model to detect squirrels, and then put it onto a Raspberry Pi 3 board. Whenever an adventurous rodent happened by, it would turn on the sprinkler system. Microsoft’s sciurine aversions aren’t the point of that story – its shoehorning of a convolutional neural network onto an ARM CPU is. It shows how organizations are pushing hardware further to support AI algorithms. As AI continues to make the headlines, researchers are pushing its capabilities to make it increasingly competent at basic tasks such as recognizing vision and speech. As people expect more of the technology, cramming it into self-flying drones and self-driving cars, the hardware challenges…

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