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Project Adam in action. (Microsoft image.)

Microsoft Research has developed a new system for machine learning and artificial intelligence, called “Project Adam,” that advances the speed and efficiency of computers and their ability to learn.  Project Adam takes its cues from the human brain to absorb new data and teach itself new skills — such as distinguishing among different breeds of dogs.

That was the demonstration at the company’s Faculty Summit in Redmond this morning, as Microsoft brought out several different breeds of dogs on stage and showed how the technology could automatically distinguish among them in real time, using computer vision and insights from large sets of data.

Microsoft says Project Adam has achieved breakthroughs in machine learning by using distributed networks and an asynchronous technique that improves the overall efficiency and accuracy of the system over time. This is a critical area of technology as Microsoft and tech giants race to build intelligent, predictive systems that leverage mobile technologies and the cloud.

Microsoft says in a post that it has surpassed Google’s past efforts to use machine learning to distinguish among cats.

“Project Adam is 50 times faster—and more than twice as accurate, as outlined in a paper currently under academic review,” Microsoft says in the post. “In addition, it is efficient, using 30 times fewer machines, and scalable, areas in which the Google effort fell short.”

Here’s a Microsoft Research video explaining how it works.

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