TOKYO -- Sony will break from tradition among Japanese tech peers by making its artificial intelligence software freely available, as the company seeks to expand its presence in the field through outside collaboration with other businesses and research institutions.
The Japanese electronics company has developed AI independently since the 1990s but has decided to open-source its deep learning software known as a neural network library. The software, which learns by mimicking the neural networks in human brains, can be used in products.
Sony's software can be used for face and voice recognition based on deep learning abilities. The technology has been applied to predict the contract price of real estate transactions, for instance, and it is expected to be used in the development of home appliances and robots by third parties.
Though Japanese companies have made products that became worldwide hits, the development and application of such technology have been kept from the outside world. Sony has worked on AI since the technology's early days with products such as the Aibo robot dog but has allowed only itself to access the software.
In the global information technology industry, Google and other major U.S. companies have made their deep learning software freely available. Microsoft and Facebook are building followers through open source software, which leads to better quality since the opportunities for improvement increase.
Sony established an investment fund targeting AI startups last year. It has become the first Japanese business to join an AI industry group set up by Facebook and others.