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Google prepares for AI-first era

News, 16 November 2016

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA: Google is deploying artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in a growing variety of applications as it prepares for an "AI-first" era.

The internet giant, famed for its so-called "moonshot" projects, has recently introduced these ideas to Play Music and Play Store, for example, but its ambitions go far beyond these.

"Building general artificial intelligence in a way that helps people meaningfully—I think the word 'moonshot' is an understatement for that," said CEO Sundar Pichai.

"I would say it's as big as it gets," he told Fast Company.

To that end, Google has also introduced a number of devices, including the Google Home speaker and Pixel smartphone, that come with embedded support for Google Assistant, its rival to Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa.

"We think of the Assistant as of an evolution of Google search," said John Giannandrea, SVP/Search, Research, and Machine Intelligence.

"It's a superset in some senses," he explained. "If you said to Google search, 'Get me a pizza,' nothing happens. Our aspiration is that the assistant will go and get you a pizza. We don't today, but that's our aspiration."

And if Google aspires, chances are it will happen: Fast Company noted that Google has more experience teaching computers to understand language, photos, and other forms of information than anyone else.

Google Assistant is also central to its ambitious plans to make a dent in the hitherto untouched messaging app market with Allo, which has the ability to deliver AI-generated, situation-based automatic replies such as "sounds good" and "not really".

"We think that's a paradigm shift in technology," said Nick Fox, VP/Communications. "It's one that we think we're well suited to address and well suited to solve because of our deep investment in machine learning and AI over the years."

Data sourced from Fast Company, Google, Digital Trends; additional content by Warc staff