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The public cloud division of Chinese ecommerce company Alibaba Group today is introducing new artificial-intelligence (AI) services targeting two specific industries, health care and manufacturing.

The Alibaba Cloud is touting an ET Medical Brain and an ET Industrial Brain, each of which encompasses a number of services. The latter will give companies tools for monitoring the production process, improving energy efficiency, and predicting when maintenance will be needed.

Also today, Alibaba is announcing the launch of version 2.0 of its PAI machine learning service. Alibaba introduced the original PAI in 2015. The new version lets customers choose from more than 100 algorithms, supports multiple deep learning frameworks, and enables one-click application programming interface (API) deployment, according to a statement.

These services are coming alongside core computing infrastructure that people can rent by the hour, as well as storage, networking, and security services.


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Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary of Amazon.com, leads the cloud infrastructure market, while Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM SoftLayer are believed to be trailing most closely behind it. Alibaba Cloud claims to have 765,000 paying customers, including Nestle and Philips. In 2014, AWS said it had 1 million customers. The biggest clouds have largely steered clear of focusing their general-purpose machine learning and AI services on industries. That said, IBM does pitch its Watson technology for health care use cases, and Google’s DeepMind AI research group does have a health program. The Google Cloud also fields a genetics service.

Currently, Alibaba offers computing services out of data centers in Australia, mainland China, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, the Middle East, Singapore, and the U.S.

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