Microsoft is looking to step up its A.I. efforts with the acquisition of machine learning company Bonsai and has now officially announced the signing of an agreement to move that acquisition forward. The goal of the deal is for Microsoft to provide itself and developers on its Azure A.I. platform with scalable but comprehensive A.I. "brains." The company defines that term as a machine learning model for autonomous systems to suit all types of real-world A.I. implementations. To that end, Microsoft hopes to leverage the Berkley-based M12 portfolio company and its novel approach to teaching A.I. systems. The result is expected to be widespread improvements to Azure and both its development environment and tools. That, in turn, would give the company an end-to-end solution for both building and maintenance of A.I. solutions for autonomous systems.
Bonsai's approach to teaching A.I. systems moves the "low-level mechanics" of the process into the abstract, allowing for easier specification of autonomous tasks for A.I. systems. Training of the A.I. is conducted in a simulated environment and doesn't actually require A.I. expertise. It's effectively a deep, general-purpose system that allows for the implementation of automation in a wide variety of enterprise environments with model generation and management packaged alongside APIs and SDKs. Microsoft says that training an A.I. with the tools only requires that the individual conducting the training is an expert in what the A.I. is being trained to do. With the acquisition, the company will leverage the approach and associated tools alongside Azure Machine Learning. That runs on the Azure Cloud backed by Microsofts own GPUs and Brainwave, effectively encompassing the entire broad-use machine training system in one end-to-end solution.
Beyond helping Microsoft improve its own enterprise level A.I. development process, the company also says it is looking to break down the barriers which traditionally prevent developers from working with A.I. That means creating and incorporating a process for teaching artificial intelligence without the need for expertise in that process, effectively making it easy enough for a more generally-knowledgable developer to accomplish. The two companies haven't technically merged just yet. However, Microsoft says the acquisition will be the first step in making that possible, through innovations in prebuilt and easy-to-develop custom solutions.