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Alexander Smola (via LinkedIn)
Alexander Smola (via LinkedIn)

Both Amazon and Google are advancing their efforts in machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence that lets computers learn without being explicitly programmed. It’s often associated with cloud computing, because it requires the considerable computing power the cloud makes easily available.

Amazon’s efforts will get a boost when Alexander Smola, a professor in the machine-learning department at Carnegie Mellon University, leaves that position July 1 to head Amazon’s cloud machine-learning platform. Smola revealed his plans in this blog post.

“This is a terrific task, and it was an offer that I could not turn down,” Smola wrote. “We will strive to turn the state of the art in machine-learning research into the state of the art in industry.” He will work from a lab in the Bay Area, he said.

Smola began teaching at Carnegie Mellon in January 2013, following stints working as a principal research scientist Yahoo in 2008 through 2012 and as a visiting scientist at Google in 2012 and 2013-2015, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Google's Zurich offices (via Google)
Google’s Zurich offices (via Google)

For its part, Google announced today that it will create a European machine-learning research group, to be headquartered in its Zurich engineering offices, already the largest outside the U.S. Efforts there will center on machine intelligence, natural-language processing and machine perception, Google said.

Google’s Zurich offices developed the technology behind Knowledge Graph — a behind-the-scenes enhancement to Google’s search function introduced in 2012 — and created the speech-recognition portion of Google’s Allo messaging app, announced in May. (Graph is an increasingly popular technical term used to describe how a set of objects are connected.)

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