AT&T is building an open-source marketplace for AI apps

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AT&T says it wants to make artificial intelligence accessible to everyone. And to do that, it will be collaborating with Tech Mahindra to build an open source AI platform called Acumos that will serve as a marketplace for accessing, using, sharing and enhancing AI apps.

The rationale behind Acumos is that creating new AI apps is complex and expensive. According to AT&T, the only way the industry can keep up with customer demand for AI apps is to simplify deployments, lower the barrier to entry and find a way to make such apps reusable and accessible to … well, anyone who wants to use them.

The Acumos platform aims to do just that. Hosted by The Linux Foundation and powered by the AT&T Indigo platform, Acumos is an extensible framework for machine learning solutions that provides the capability to edit, integrate, compose, package, train and deploy AI microservices.

Simply put, says AT&T, “it’s an AI marketplace where applications can be chained to create complex and sophisticated AI services.”

From the release:

Take someone who wants to create an AI application for video analytics. The Acumos platform gives them a variety of applications to choose from, like location tracking and facial recognition. The simple platform interface lets you choose AI capabilities and stitch them together automatically so they function as a single application. In this case, the new service could identify where the video was shot based on background landmarks, and identify the speakers in it – design and deploy in a single interface and with minimal additional code development.

Content curation, autonomous cars, drones, and augmented reality/virtual reality are other areas where AI models could be used with the Acumos platform.

Frameworks for AI apps development is nothing new – Amazon, Google and Microsoft have already released software frameworks for just that purpose. But Mazin Gilbert, vice president of Advanced Technology at AT&T Labs, said that the basic goal of Acumos is to not just take AI open-source, but to make building and deploying AI apps as simple and easy as creating a web site.

“We’re opening up AI,” Gilbert said. “We’re focusing on the telecommunication, media and technology spaces, starting with the network. The platform will be available to anyone and the more users who adopt it, the better it will get.”

Gilbert noted that AT&T used a similar model to launch the ONAP operating system for virtualized networks. “But in that case, though, we spent years developing our own internal platform, called ECOMP, before releasing it into open source via The Linux Foundation.”

Acumos will be different in that AT&T will take the framework open-source more quickly so developers can get cracking to accelerate development of the platform, he said.

The Linux Foundation expects to launch the project early next year. Other companies are invited to join in the coming weeks as the Acumos Project establishes its governance model.

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