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What do Google, Amazon, IBM, Apple, Microsoft and all the airlines and car companies want?

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03 February 2014



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They want to communicate more accurately, resolve issues faster and with higher levels of satisfaction than at present. They also want to enable more complex communication. And they want to do it amiably. As we move toward the Internet of Things, more players will enter the fray – all having the same goal.

Google appears to be acquiring people and companies to build a better human interaction interface. This interface can be the front-end of search, IoT devices, robotics and voice systems. Even if Google keeps their algorithms private, the first to deploy complex communication modules that can understand and resolve queries is going to have a big winner on their hands.

Certainly Google is going all out in this endeavor:

  • Ray Kurzweil has been at work at Google for over a year now to develop natural language understanding. If successful, Google’s computers will be able to pick up semantic meaning enabling people to ask more complex questions.
  • Just last week Google acquired DeepMind, a British AI start-up with some high-profile investors and a whiz kid founder (Demis Hassabis). DeepMind’s forte appears to be smart recommendations for online commerce.
  • Facebook attempted to buy the deep learning group within DeepMind but Google outbid them.
  • Deep learning is AI that trains AI to recognize patterns within streams of data instead of programming immense decision trees. For example, DeepMind trained software to play an Atari video game without teaching it the rules. The software had to learn through trial, errors and low scores.
  • Google has hired and bought up leading researchers in AI for years including Sebastian Thrun, Peter Norvig and Geoffrey Hinton.

In a recent New Yorker article by Gary Marcus, Hyping Artificial Intelligence, Yet Again, it was clear that AI has received a lot of enthusiastic press attention over the years but hasn’t delivered upon those promises. Perhaps Google is on the right track toward converting all that desire into reality.

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Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report, and is also a panel member for Robohub's Robotics by Invitation series.
Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report, and is also a panel member for Robohub's Robotics by Invitation series.





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