Artificial intelligence and machine learning are undoubtedly the major areas of innovation for the tech community. If you are a techie you will want to know what companies like Google are investing in. What are the new technologies these companies are advancing and the research priorities they are supporting or sponsoring?
Google has been a powerful force in championing the use of Artificial Intelligence. A plethora of AI functionalities hides within google apps, be it the smartphone assistants or image recognition and translation features.
In fact, deep learning is the area of artificial intelligence where the real magic is happening right now. For instance, the Google search engine is powered by AI (deep learning). The search engine was always driven by algorithms that automatically generate responses to queries. But these algorithms amounted to a set of definite rules. Google engineers could readily change and refine these rules. And these algorithms didn’t learn on their own. But now, Google has incorporated deep learning into its search engine so that there is continuous learning in the algorithms. And with its head of AI taking over the search, the company seems to believe this is the way forward.
But why is Google interested in deep learning in the first place? Aren’t you curious?
Well, there’s a simple reason for this – it works! Incorporating deep learning has enabled data scientists to crack a number of issues which had proved challenging for decades, like speech and image recognition, natural language generation, etc.
The very first publicly-discussed explorations of deep learning possibilities began with the Google Brain project in the year 2011. And just the following year, Google announced that it had built a neural network, which is designed to simulate human cognitive processes, running on 16,000 computers and is capable, after studying around 10 million images, of identifying cats.
In the year 2014,
Google signalled how important deep learning was to its business with its acquisition of Deep Mind, a UK-based deep learning specialist. The pioneering work of the startup involved connecting cutting-edge neuroscience research to machine learning techniques, resulting in systems that acted like “real” intelligence (i.e. the human brain).
Language processing is the second area where Google has implemented deep learning. Google Assistant speech recognition uses deep learning in order to understand spoken commands and questions. Google’s translation tool also comes under the Google Brain umbrella and operates in a deep learning environment.
The third key use of deep learning at Google is to provide video recommendations on YouTube, by studying a viewers’ habit and preferences when they stream content and working out what would keep them engaged. Google already knew from the data that suggesting videos that viewers might want to watch next would keep its users hooked, keeping the advertising dollars rolling in. Google Brain is once again the brain behind this technology.
In 2015, Google open-sourced its TensorFlow machine learning and deep learning-focused programming platform, to allow anyone to develops neural network-based solutions using the same technology they use themselves. And through its Cloud Machine Learning Engine, Google also offers storage and processing power to third parties which want to put the technology to use without investing upfront in computer infrastructure.
Also, Google’s self-driving car division, Waymo, has incorporated deep learning algorithms into their autonomous systems, to make self-driving cars more efficient at analyzing and reacting to the conditions around them.
Google has been an effective force in pioneering, championing and bringing deep learning to the masses. And thanks to their research and investment, now anyone can benefit from these technologies and put them to work with their own data. A lot of people are pinning their hopes on deep learning providing some great leaps in coming years, in every field from medicine to exploring space – and the groundwork done by Google will play a big part in that.