Diego Oppenheimer is worried that the Googles and the Facebooks will dominate the world of artificial intelligence.
It’s a legitimate worry. Elon Musk and Sam Altman are worried about the same thing. That’s why they created a startup called OpenAI. In recent years, Google and Facebook have snapped up so many researchers at the heart of the deep learning movement, an AI movement that’s rapidly reinventing everything from speech recognition to security. So, Musk and Altman grabbed several top AI researchers from Google and Facebook and vowed to share their work with the world at large.
Now, Oppenheimer and his startup, Algorithmia, are doing their part in the battle against AI hegemony. Algorithmia is what Oppenheimer calls an open marketplace for algorithms—code that companies and developers can use to beef up their websites and apps—and this marketplace now includes deep learning algorithms that handle tasks like face recognition and character recognition. Whereas OpenAI shares raw AI research, Algorithmia offers working algorithms designed to slot right into new services. “Maybe the future was already invented,” Oppenheimer says. “It’s just stuck in academic papers.”
It’s part of a much larger effort to democratize AI. Startups like Clarifai, Nara Logics, and MetaMind (now owned by Salesforce.com) also offer tools for building deep learning into any application. And giants like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are building cloud computing services that work in similar ways.
Algorithmia uses the same marketplace model that startups have applied to so many other goods and services, including everything from artisanal crafts and graphic design to real estate and good ol’ retail. Anyone can upload an algorithm to the market, and then anyone can pay to use it.