Netflix is not only in the business of delivering content to its users - now the company is also working to create an artificial brain that should be capable of telling viewers what they want to watch. It's a strange system, because Netflix believes it would be able to outperform the movie recommendation prowess of a close friend.
Already, Netflix has a recommendation engine that by all accounts, doesn't work that well when compared to a real person. Sometimes, the company's recommendation software doesn't offer enough variety, making it one of the worst available. However, Netflix wants to change that by removing the reliance you have on your friend from across the street, and on something that you cannot see. The company is seriously looking into "deep learning", which is a branch of artificial intelligence that aims to solve difficult problems using computerized systems that are similar to the behavior and structure of the human brain.
This won't be the first time we've seen a company looking to deep learning to help better reach its users. Google has done it to help with voice recognition, and Facebook has done it to help with image tagging.
Netflix, however is taking a different route compared to Google and Facebook. Instead of creating its own software to do the hard work, the company is aiming to use Amazon's cloud service to run its deep learning algorithms. By using Amazon's cloud service, Netflix should be able to train a new machine in a mere 47 minutes, compared to the 20 hours on current efforts. It's a huge gain, and it also shows how powerful Amazon cloud services are, along with deep learning.
Bear in mind though, it doesn't mean recommendations will begin to get better overnight. It would still take time and effort, but it should improve considerably over the older model. Netflix users should be quite happy with the new changes, whenever the company plans to make it available. Chances are, this new change might happen behind the scenes, so we may never know when.
The big question we need to focus on right now is - do Netflix users need a better recommendation system?
Tricky question. You see, there are several movie websites that regularly recommend new content for viewers, and this is a trend that has been going on for countless years. Websites recommending content is quite popular, and it shows that movie and TV show viewers are quite content with searching Google or Bing for what could turn out to be the next best thing.
However, there might be some users who are not keen on searching the search engines for recommended content, and this is where Netflix's new deep learning feature would come in handy.
At the end of the day, it's a yes, and a no to this question. Still, we believe viewers may prefer seeking recommendation from persons who have seen several contents before, rather than from what Neflix is working on right now.