Google AI Engineering: Kicking Open the AI Door

For Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella who are always on the look-out for the next venture for Google and Microsoft respectively, Artificial Intelligence (AI) seems to be the technology that will shape the future. Both of these Indian born CEO’s have laid out their strategy for this market. In the latest Avenger movie, Iron Man’s software assistant Jervis is hacked by a more powerful code. While this intriguing twist bewitched the fans, it also raised an important question. Will AI help humans in solving its biggest problems or will it create an Orwellian future where machines will overpower and control humans?

Microsoft has built its Azure cloud for developers to use its AI for creating new solutions in the market segment. On the other hand Google has announced that it will create a team of inventors to focus exclusively in the AI branch of technology for individual consumers. In a strategic move, Google has decided to invest in a lean team of engineers to lead this venture, who will have more scope of independence by not being bogged down by a larger team.

AI can be a helpful tool. Many people are complaining about a shortage of extra pair of hands. Google is fast improving its Google AI Assistant to help users have a conversation with their phone in their native language about what they are seeing through their devices. In December, scientists from Google AI research division published a paper in JAMA, the Journal of America’s physicians. They showed that a deep learning program could diagnose a cause of blindness from retina images as well as a doctor.

Google has also decided to hand over specific checks ranging from $1 to $10 million for the entrepreneurs who are looking to funding their AI projects. They also will be providing mentorships and other services to the developers. This startups can be the seeds that will build a more robust root for Google to later enable its larger AI ventures. This investment team will be led by Anna Peterson who serves as the Vice President of Google Engineering. In the past she helped scale up the Android users from 40 million to over a billion. There are up to 2 billion Android devices and any breakthrough in AI will have an impact on other Google services also.

The new AI venture arm of Google, led by a team of engineers rather than by venture capitalists, shows that Google AI is looking for technical and value driven startups that can give it a boost over its rival Microsoft. However there are many Chinese companies backed by the government that are investing heavily in AI research and technology. Even though America with its one door policy is the leader in AI technology, it could face competition from China in the future.

The artificial Intelligence sector saw investments of over a billion dollars in the previous year. Last year Apple acquired Emotient that helps computers to recognize emotion through facial expressions. For instance it helped doctors rate pain for patients that couldn’t speak. While Apple could use it to make an emotionally aware Siri that understands your mood, it could also use it develop an artificial intelligent personality. As Ms Li chief Scientist of Google AI summed it ‘I believe AI can deliver this transformation at a scale, we have never seen and imagined before’. Lets hope that this transformation is used for human progress and freedom only.

AI is getting easier to develop as the developer platforms mature. The AI sector and industry could have huge impact particularly in manufacturing, medicine, driverless cars, customer services, calendaring, sales, hospitality and services.

Read more about Artificial Intelligence in the tech world, here.

Jon Buck
Jon Buck
Jon Buck is based in Delhi, India. He enjoys researching, analyzing, and commenting on the cutting edge of the technology world, as well as palak paneer with veg fried rice.

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