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Google: The future is now
Don’t think that machine learning is the future — it is with us now.
That was the message shared by Google Asia Pacific’s chief marketing officer Simon Kahn at a recent breakfast event organised by BritCham. I was part of the 90+ participants at the event and wanted to share some of the insights I gleaned.
Already, machine learning has permeated much of our everyday lives. Banks are using voices as authentication tools rather than passwords, not to mention the spoken search facilities with Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant.
Users of a car auction business in Japan can now scan and send in photos of their cars for a quick price estimate. Want to see if a table or chair would fit with your design concept? Furniture giant Ikea now has an app where you can place 3D images of furniture on a virtual photograph of your room.
BMW too is developing virtual showrooms where you would hold up your phone, scan round the room and be able to view the range of cars you would normally see at a physical store.
Photos are now be sorted by type and location on our smartphones, a job that most of us frequently put off! How great is it that we can now single out of the 1000s of pictures we now take (and that’s just a few months for me!) and just view the ones of a particular person, or ones of coastlines, or ones of dogs!
So, what is Google’s role in all of these, you may ask?
As many would know, Google started off in 1998 in the search engine business, where a search was performed every 10 seconds. Today, it has grown to a company of 64,000 Googlers (how the company fondly calls its employees) with over 2.3 million searches per second and over 100 products. Its focus has changed over the years, with the company adopting a media mindset within a technology firm.
Today, Google’s engineers are now using focusing their efforts on propelling the future forward through artificial intelligence, machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Their race to the future is broken down into three main areas: speed, optimisation and scale. Machine learning provides solutions that are quicker, better and more scalable than a human process.
And the future, as Mr Kahn puts it, is limitless. It isn’t just a one-way involvement between man and machine. Bots are now evolving around us and more predictive about how they can be involved.
Imagine if you were with a friend and making plans for dinner. A bot recommends a great Italian place near to you both as it knows your exact location and love for pasta — all without you asking.
Imagine if your bank suggests ideas from your spending and saving patterns, recommending investment plans from unspent money in your account. And the list goes on.
While it was great to hear about this exciting disruption, it was reassuring to also hear how Google planned to tackle issues such as cyber security, personal data protection and job loss risks. The tech giant has already set up ethic committees and groups looking at the implications of these developments for the future.
As the tech world continues to push the boundaries of change and innovation, the one thing for sure is that things will only continue to develop in our lifetime and for future generations. Right now, I joke with people about life before computers, the internet and mobile phones - what will our kids look back on joke about?!