In case you haven’t heard, it’s AI’s world, and we’re just living in it. If there was any remaining doubt, it was settled in May when Google CEO Sundar Pichai proclaimed the arrival of the “AI-first world.” To accommodate this new AI-focused reality, Google announced it’s placing its AI machine-learning technologies at the heart of all of its products.
Speaking at his company’s I/O 2017 developers conference, Pichai discussed the rising profile of AI and machine-learning capabilities in everything from Google Photos, to Google Home, to the cameras on Android-based smartphones. The announcement represents a fundamental shift in Google’s strategy as it transitions its focus away from mobile technology and toward AI, as reported by VentureBeat.
The company said Google Photos is being enhanced with new machine-learning-based features, including the capability to recognize individuals in pictures and prompt users to share those pictures with those people. Google Home is adding new functions like proactive notifications that provide useful information, free and easy voice-controlled phone calls and the capability to respond to questions on connected televisions.
Pichai also rolled out Google Lens, which uses machine-learning techniques to transform cameras into search engines. Google Lens can recognize real-world objects and then perform actions based on what it detects. For example, the system can recognize a prominent city building and then identify the name of the landmark for the user. It also can connect to a Wi-Fi network simply by looking at a sticker on a router and recognizing its sign-on information.
The I/O 2017 event also was highlighted by the debut of the second generation of Google’s Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), a microchip designed to optimize the processing of data-intensive AI tasks, according to Fortune. The new TPUs are suited for training and inference duties in deep-learning applications.
Other AI-related announcements at I/O 2017 included news that Google’s speech-recognition technology has exceeded 95 percent accuracy. Google’s strategic shift to AI reflects a broader transition in the overall technology business. Top tech firms including Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft are vying to take the lead in the AI market by building AI frameworks and platforms.
To rapidly enhance their capabilities, these companies are engaged in a race to acquire startups that possess critical AI technologies. More than 200 private companies with AI algorithms have been purchased since 2012, according to the market research firm CB Insights. In the first quarter of 2017 alone, more than 30 AI startups were bought.
Among the most notable acquisitions was Google’s purchase of Kaggle, which offers a platform that hosts predictive modeling and analytics competitions.
With Google’s latest announcements at I/O 2017, it’s clear the technology business has moved into the era of AI.
Tyler Schulze is vice president, strategy & development at Veritone. He serves as general manager for developer partnerships, cognitive engine ecosystem, and media ingestion for the Veritone platform. Learn more about our platform and join the Veritone developer ecosystem today.