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Amazon Releases Technology behind Product Recommendations

Amazon uses artificial intelligence (AI) to power its search and product recommendation systems, and now other companies will be able to use it and tinker with the sophisticated technology.

Wired reported on Monday that Amazon unveiled the open source AI framework called DSSTNE (pronounced “destiny”). “Now any company, researcher, or curious tinkerer can use it for their own AI applications.”

Amazon provided its reason for making the technology open to outside developers:

“We are releasing DSSTNE as open source software so that the promise of deep learning can extend beyond speech and language understanding and object recognition to other areas such as search and recommendations. We hope that researchers around the world can collaborate to improve it. But more importantly, we hope that it spurs innovation in many more areas.”

But Wired said Amazon has a strong incentive to create a system that can make good predictions based on less data. “By open sourcing DSSTNE, Amazon is increasing the likelihood that some smart person somewhere outside the company will help the company think of ways to make the system better,” it wrote.

Engadget said making DSSTNE open source indicates Amazon wants help after spending years adapting its algorithms to produce the most relevant suggestions when making product recommendations, which it said can “make the difference between a one-off order and an unexpected spending spree.”

It humorously suggested, “If that means it’ll stop Amazon suggesting we buy something we’ve already bought, then we’re all for it.”

But joking aside, it will be interesting if Amazon competitors are able to use the framework to help their systems to provide a better shopping experience in both search and recommendations.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.