Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rise of the Machines: Why Artificial Intelligence Will Power Google's 'Core'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rise of the Machines: Why Artificial Intelligence Will Power Google's 'Core'

Article excerpt

Given a large enough set of data to work with, computers can develop their own strategies for noticing patterns and making judgements. That's the main idea behind machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence, which is already helping Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and other companies to translate languages, filter e-mail, and find information a user might want.

But at a quarterly earnings call on Thursday for Alphabet, Google's parent company, Google CEO Sundar Pichai reported that machine learning is about to change everything about the way tech companies tackle big problems.

"Machine learning is a core, transformative way by which we're rethinking everything we're doing," Mr. Pichai said during the call. "We're thoughtfully applying it across all our products, be it search, ads, YouTube, or Play ... We're in the early days, but you'll see us in a systematic way think about how we can apply machine learning to all these areas."

Google isn't the only company that's focusing in on machine learning. Machine learning allows Microsoft-owned Skype Translator to translate between spoken languages in near real time, since the system learns context and nuance through hearing words spoken.

Earlier this year, Facebook's AI Research division open-sourced machine learning code that could lead to better image and video recognition as well as intelligent ad placement.

The push toward machine learning is being driven by two factors. First, new data is being produced at a staggering rate: in 2012, humans created 2.8 trillion gigabytes of new information, and research firm IDC estimates that the total amount of information in the world now doubles about every 18 months. That's far too much data for any team of experts to make use of, but it's perfect for machines: the more information computers have to crunch through, the better their algorithms become at understanding relationships between different bits of information. …

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