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OPLIN 4cast #371: Google of the future

Posted in 4cast

DeepMind logoA couple of weeks ago, Google confirmed that it had purchased DeepMind, a London artificial intelligence company. This set off a flurry of speculation in the technology press: What is Google planning now? Nobody but Google knows for sure, but some of the best technology journalists think they have it figured out, though they don’t completely agree. We will probably know soon enough what the Google of the future will be, but it seems certain that this latest acquisition has something to do with Google’s core objective to make all of the world’s knowledge accessible.

  • Google’s game of Moneyball in the age of artificial intelligence (ReadWrite/Dan Rowinski)  “This is exactly what Google is doing: exploiting market inefficiency to land undervalued talent. Google determined that intelligent systems and automation will eventually be served by robotics and has gone out of its way to acquire all of the pieces that will serve that transformation before any of its competitors could even identify it as a trend. By scooping up the cream of the crop in the emerging realm of robotics and intelligent systems, Google is cornering the market on talented engineers ready to create the next generation of human-computer interaction.”
  • Google acquires human-like AI company for $500 million, Skynet is now a real possibility (ExtremeTech/Sebastian Anthony)  “…DeepMind appears to be in the business of creating artificial general intelligence (AGI). The co-founder and apparent brains of the operation, Demis Hassabis, has published some papers on AGI. AGI (sometimes referred to as strong AI) is different from conventional AI (weak AI) in the sense that it is capable of performing (and learning from) very general tasks. Most AI (weak AI) is programmed to perform a very specific task…. AGI, on the other hand, is programmed so that it solves problems in a much more human way. Where weak AI is usually characterized by speed and accuracy, strong AI is more closely linked to reasoning, planning, self-awareness, consciousness, and communicating in natural language. In other words, if you want to build useful, human-like robots, you need a really good AGI.”
  • Google buys A.I. company for search, not robots (New York Times/Nick Bilton)  “People who work with Google but could not be named because they were not allowed to speak publicly for the company, said the acquisition of the artificial intelligence software had nothing to do with robots, but everything to do with semantic technology and the ability to understand what people were asking for online and answer in a very human way.”
  • More on DeepMind: AI startup to work directly with Google’s search team (Re/code /Liz Gannes and James Temple)  “So what will Google do with DeepMind? Artificial intelligence is core to many teams at Google, from the self-driving car to the search results page. Jeff Dean (the Google executive running the team that DeepMind is joining) was the lead author on a paper in 2012 that boasted of training a deep network ‘30 times larger than previously reported in the literature’ for the purposes of large visual object recognition tasks and speedy speech recognition. He also worked on a somewhat famous project where a neural network of 16,000 computers presented with stills from 10 million YouTube videos taught itself to recognize cats.”

Purchasing fact:
In addition to DeepMind, Google has recently purchased at least six robotics companies.