Microsoft releases beta of version 2.0 of its Cognitive Toolkit to 'democratize AI'

Microsoft is releasing a beta of its Cognitive Toolkit for developers looking to make use of deep-learning techniques in their apps and services.

Microsoft is releasing a beta of its second version of its Cognitive Toolkit (formerly known as CNTK) today, October 25.

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The new version of the toolkit -- which is on GitHub and available via an MIT open source license -- is designed to help with speech, image recognition, and search-relevance tasks.

The latest Cognitive Toolkit beta release provides developers with support for Python and C++. The new version also adds support for a "reinforcement learning," a concept in artificial intelligence (AI). The latest version also is faster than other toolkits of its kind, especially when working with big datasets distributed across multiple machines, which is important for deep learning work, Microsoft officials said.

The Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit was designed to run on multiple GPUs (including Azure's GPU offering that is currently in preview) and is optimized to take advantage of NVIDIA hardware and Azure networking.

Microsoft has used the Cognitive Toolkit internally in its work around Microsoft Cognitive Services, Cortana, and Skype Translator.

Microsoft released the first version of CNTK on Github in January 2016.

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