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Recent improvements in speech and image recognition have come as companies such as Google build bigger, more powerful systems of computers to run machine-learning software. Now a relative minnow, a private company called Sentient with only about 70 employees, says it can cheaply assemble even larger computing systems to power artificial-intelligence software.

The company’s approach may not be suited to all types of machine learning, a technology that has uses as varied as facial recognition and financial trading. Sentient has not published details, but says it has shown that it can put together enough computing power to produce significant results in some cases.

Sentient’s power comes from linking up hundreds of thousands of computers over the Internet to work together as if they were a single machine. The company won’t say exactly where all the machines it taps into are. But many are idle inside data centers, the warehouse-like facilities that power Internet services such as websites and mobile apps, says Babak Hodjat, cofounder and chief scientist at Sentient. The company pays a data-center operator to make use of its spare machines.

You gotta love those workarounds. ;-) To read more, click here.