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Apple appears to be the latest company to venture into an increasingly popular branch of artificial intelligence research known as deep learning. The work could lead to substantive improvements to Apple’s Siri personal digital assistant.

Apple has been hiring a string of people well trained in speech recognition, and is in the process of constructing artificial neural networks to process information in ways similar to the ways our brains do, according to an article yesterday from Wired.

The report points to the growing acceptance of deep learning among large technology companies. Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Netflix have already made moves in this area, for a variety of reasons, including the optimization of data center operations and improving video recommendations.

And Apple wouldn’t be the only company fueling the adoption of deep learning. Baidu recently hired one of Google’s deep learning gurus, Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng.

Meanwhile startups like Ersatz Labs and Nervana are trying to sell products and services that can help more companies do deep learning.

For Apple, the point could be quite different: helping their mobile devices understand as much as possible of what people say to them, just as Google and Microsoft could be up to similar work.

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