Colaboratory, or Colab for short, spun out from an internal Google Research project in late 2017. It’s designed to allow anyone to write and execute arbitrary Python code through a web browser, particularly code for machine learning, education and data analysis. For the purpose, Google provides both free and paying Colab users access to hardware including GPUs and Google’s custom-designed, AI-accelerating tensor processing units (TPUs).
In recent years, Colab has become the de facto platform for demos within the AI research community. It’s not uncommon for researchers who’ve written code to include links to Colab pages on or alongside the GitHub repositories hosting the code. But Google hasn’t historically been very restrictive when it comes to Colab content, potentially opening the door for actors who wish to use the service for less scrupulous purposes.