ARCHITECHT Daily: Pinterest might be the killer app for computer vision—because data

I never use Pinterest. I barely follow TechCrunch Disrupt. And yet, I found myself nodding along whil
ARCHITECHT
ARCHITECHT Daily: Pinterest might be the killer app for computer vision—because data
By ARCHITECHT • Issue #77 • View online
I never use Pinterest. I barely follow TechCrunch Disrupt. And yet, I found myself nodding along while reading this Disrupt interview with Pinterest president Tim Kendall, in which he describes how Pinterest is now showing ads for products visually similar to other things a user has searched for or pinned. Pinterest isn’t trying to cure cancer or power autonomous cars, but—damn!—has it found a great application for deep learning and computer vision. 
Commercially speaking, Pinterest might be the perfect application of these technologies. Its business, essentially, is pictures of things and strong positive signals in the form of “pins.” Deep learning makes it possible to take what you like and show you more stuff like that. If Pinterest can show ads—so someone can actually buy something they like, or at least know where to buy something—it’s giving advertisers (and possibly consumers) a truly unique and relevant experience.
As I’ve written before, the Pinterest use case is both quite mundane and also a testament to how far deep learning has come in the past few years. But what makes Pinterest noteworthy is not that it’s using deep learning—seemingly everyone is today—but that it found a killer application for it.
Venture capitalists like to talk about competitive moats, and some (many?) now view data as a potentially very large moat. (Here’s Jake Flomenberg from Accel talking about data moats; here’s Jerry Chen from Greylock writing about them.) Using deep learning is not a moat, in part because everybody now has access to the tools for doing it, and in part because it can’t magically make bad data valuable. You build a moat by gathering data that’s unique, provides strong signals and is relevant to whatever your monetization strategy is—and then applying the right machine learning approach to it.
Pinterest has done some good work molding deep learning libraries to its use case, but that could be a lot of wasted effort it it hadn’t nailed the data part first.
P.S. In more deep learning news, Google also announced on Wednesday that cloud users can now build on top of Google Tensor Processing Units. More on that tomorrow but, in the meantime, chew on what that might mean for Nvidia.
P.P.S. I realize the publication time of this newsletter is slipping later, mostly as a function of the other duties I find myself doing more now (e.g., sales, conference planning, reconnecting with sources, etc.). I am determined to figure out a schedule that will allow me to publish by 8 a.m. PT every day. Bear with me.

Sponsor: Cloudera
Sponsor: Cloudera
Artificial intelligence
Cloud and infrastructure
Google made a couple of cloud computing announcements before its big I/O conference this week:
If I’m looking at the cloud market based solely on what I’ve seen in 2017 so far, I might be inclined to think that Google and Microsoft are positioning themselves very well to win new workloads over Amazon Web Services. This is especially true on the database and IoT fronts, where the former two companies have launched some very compelling products. On the other hand, AWS still dominates “serverless” discussions with Lambda and seems to be getting solid traction with its Alexa-based machine learning tools. Let’s give it a couple years to play out …

Media partner: GeekWire
Media partner: GeekWire
All things data
Listen the the ARCHITECHT Show podcast. New episodes every Thursday!
Listen the the ARCHITECHT Show podcast. New episodes every Thursday!
Did you enjoy this issue?
ARCHITECHT
ARCHITECHT delivers the most interesting news and information about the business impacts of cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and other trends reshaping enterprise IT. Curated by Derrick Harris. Check out the Architecht site at https://architecht.io
Carefully curated by ARCHITECHT with Revue. If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here. If you don't want these updates anymore, please unsubscribe here.