Google CEO predicts end of physical computers in an "AI-first world"

03/05/2016

Google's vision of the future is one where physical computes are replaced by a smart assistant that follows you everywhere, according to its CEO.

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In its annual 'founders letter' posted on official Google blog on Friday, the tech giant's CEO Sundar Pichai said “to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”.

Touching upon artificial intelligence (AI), powerful computing platforms and cloud, he stressed that mobile phone has become the remote control for daily lives and people are communicating, consuming, educating and entertaining themselves on smartphones “in ways unimaginable just a few years ago”.

Google wants its artificial intelligence-powered services to work across all platforms, from phones and watches to living room speakers or a car's dashboard, and use that context to understand exactly what kind of information it can proactively provide.

This idea already exists in its app Google Now, which can warn the user of impending bad weather before they even ask for it.

However, in the future, Google envisages technolgy where a smart assistant could analyse its user's Google Maps and Calendar information to automatically send people a message if they're running late to a meeting, or proactively provide the right documents when they eventually got there, without them having to search.

“Search — the very core of Google, comes from mobile and an increasing number of them via voice. The company made this easy and via Google Now, user can get information like the weather in your upcoming vacation spot,” he posted.

Pichai said Google has been building the best AI team and tools for years and pointed out the recent win that DeepMind’s AlphaGo registered against legendary Go – a complex Chinese board game that is considered the “quintessential unsolved problem” for machine intelligence — player Lee Se-dol.

On the motive of “More great content, in more places”, Pichai wrote that the company’s core mission has improved discovery, creation, and monetisation of content from indexing images, video, and the news, to building platforms like Google Play and YouTube.

In the letter, Pichai added: "A key driver behind all of this work has been our long-term investment in machine learning and AI. It's what allows you to use your voice to search for information, to translate the web from one language to another, to filter the spam from your inbox, to search for "hugs" in your photos and actually pull up pictures of people hugging ... to solve many of the problems we encounter in daily life. It's what has allowed us to build products that get better over time, making them increasingly useful and helpful."

Google is not the only company betting big on artificial intelligence. Rival Facebook is also building a smart assistant called M, while Amazon's digital assistant Alexa makes its Echo speaker a hub for all sorts of productivity tasks, and countless startups are trying to automate specific aspects of your life.

Read the letter here

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